|4th President of Hungary|
6 August 2010 – 2 April 2012
|Prime Minister||Viktor Orbán|
|Preceded by||László Sólyom|
|Succeeded by||László Kövér (Acting)
|Speaker of the National Assembly|
14 May 2010 – 5 August 2010
|Preceded by||Béla Katona|
|Succeeded by||László Kövér|
|Vice President of the European Parliament|
14 July 2009 – 13 May 2010
|Member of the National Assembly|
14 May 2010 – 5 August 2010
13 May 1942 |
|Olympic medal record|
|1968 Mexico City||Team Épée|
|1972 Munich||Team Épée|
Schmitt was a successful fencer in his youth, winning two gold medals at the Summer Olympics. Later, he served as an ambassador during the 1990s and was a Vice President of the European Parliament from 2009 to 2010. After briefly serving as Speaker of the National Assembly of Hungary in 2010, Schmitt was elected as President of Hungary in a 263 to 59 vote in the Parliament of Hungary. He was sworn in as President on 6 August 2010. On 2 April 2012, Schmitt announced to the Hungarian Parliament his resignation as President, following the outbreak of a controversy surrounding his 1992 doctoral dissertation.
Schmitt started a successful fencing career in 1955 competing for MTK-VM. After winning two Hungarian Championship titles in individual competitions he participated as part of the Hungarian National Fencing Team 130 times between 1965 and 1977. He won the team épée gold medal at the 1968 and 1972 Summer Olympics. He also won team and individual World Championships in fencing, and collected several second and third-place finishes until his active career ended in 1977. He later became the Chief of Protocol of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and presided over the World Olympians Association between 1999 and 2007.
Between 1983 and 1989, Schmitt was the general secretary of the Hungarian Olympic Committee and under-secretary of sports between 1981 and 1990. In 1989 after the End of Communism in Hungary he became president of the Hungarian Olympic Committee. He later became a diplomat, serving as Hungary's ambassador to Spain (1993–1997) and Switzerland (1999–2002). While in Spain he was also accredited to Andorra from 1995.
In 2002 he ran for the position of mayor of Budapest, but his independent candidacy also supported by Fidesz was unsuccessful. In 2003, he became a deputy president of Fidesz. He led the party list of Fidesz in the 2009 European elections in Hungary and was elected as a Member of the European Parliament with the Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Union, to the Bureau of the European People's Party and was vice-chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Culture and Education.
Schmitt chaired the Delegation to the EU–Croatia Joint Parliamentary Committee. On 14 July 2009 he was elected one of the 14 Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament. He became the Speaker of the National Assembly of Hungary after the Hungarian parliamentary election in 2010.
President of Hungary
In the 2010 Hungarian presidential election, Schmitt was elected President of Hungary by the National Assembly, for a term commencing on 6 August. He succeeded László Sólyom. He was elected with the support of the Fidesz and Christian Democratic People's (KDNP) parties, receiving 263 out of 322 votes. András Balogh of the Socialist Party received 59 votes.
Schmitt had been the deputy president of Fidesz and the speaker of the Hungarian Parliament. From the first free elections in 1990, the nominating party has typically picked one of its high-ranking members for president: for example the SZDSZ nominated Árpád Göncz, who was a founding member of the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ). The previous MSZP government's nominee was Katalin Szili, an MSZP member who was the then speaker of the Hungarian Parliament. Schmitt signaled a positive relationship with the Fidesz-KDNP government, saying: "In the current situation, when we undertake rebuilding the country economically, socially and morally, it is imperative that the president get along with the prime minister, as well as all leaders and government members." Schmitt said he did not intend to take an obstructionist stance towards the government, and sought a more active role in the political process such as the drafting of the country's new constitution. After taking office, Schmitt resigned all posts and offices previously held. Soon after his election Schmitt came under heavy attack from some opposition parties, that refused to attend the presidential inauguration, citing high costs and a late invitation.
Drafting of a new constitution began in 2010, and was finalized by 11 April 2011, being adopted by Parliament on 18 April. Schmitt signed the new constitution into law on 25 April and it went into effect on 1 January 2012.
As a supporter of the second cabinet of Viktor Orbán, already it was probable before his appointment that the presidential position is his reversioner.[clarification needed] This confirmed that he proclaimed it at the time of the starting of his presidential activity, he wants to be "man of the people", and would like to favour and help the current government's work.
He created a sensation by personally identifying himself with the government's politics repeatedly in an interview with Time on 15 October 2010. In particular, the subject of the last sentence was "we, the government." The interview in its entirety can be found on the website of the Office of the President.
In November 2010, during a presidential speech he declared one of his major goals to be the preservation and fostering of the Hungarian language and stressed that this would be made compulsory by law. However, after this speech the website of the Office of the President published statements that were full of grammatical and stylistic errors and were ridiculed by the general public.
By 31 December 2010, Schmitt had signed nearly one hundred bills which had been voted on by the National Assembly; he did not send any none back for consideration by the parliament, nor submit any to the Constitutional Court for judicial review.
Academic misconduct and resignation
In 1992 Pál Schmitt defended his dissertation for a doctor of philosophy degree summa cum laude at the Testnevelési Egyetem (University of Physical Education). In the year 2000, this institution was merged into Budapest's Semmelweis University to become one of its Faculties. On 11 January 2012, the website of the Hungarian magazine HVG accused Schmitt of plagiarizing the work of a Bulgarian sport expert in his doctoral dissertation. Nikolay Georgiev's Analyse du programme olympique (des Jeux d’Olympiade) had been finished in 1987, and Schmitt's dissertation, completed in 1992, appears to be almost entirely a translation of this work. The accusation was denied by the Office of the President, which explained that Schmitt and Georgiev were friends and had worked together, from the same sources. Additional plagiarized sources, including 17 pages written by the German sport sociologist Klaus Heinemann, were identified later. Semmelweis University announced that a fact-finding committee would investigate the matter. The fact-finding committee's report, issued on 27 March, confirmed the plagiarism (word-by-word translations of "unusually large extent"), but blamed the Testnevelési Egyetem for not revealing the copied sources, and fell short of putting any blame on Schmitt ("the author may have thought that his dissertation satisfied the requirements"). However, a minority report was issued by the single non-faculty member of the committee, which called for the revocation of Schmitt's doctoral degree. On 29 March 2012 the Senate of Semmelweis University decided to revoke the degree.
On 2 April 2012 Schmitt announced his resignation as President, saying that he felt the plagiarism debate had divided the country. He reiterated that his conscience was clear, vowed that he would complete a PhD program, and threatened to launch a lawsuit against Semmelweis University. On 15 May 2013, Schmitt formally surrendered his doctorate after an academic remedy committee declared that his thesis did not meet the criteria, either in terms of content or formal requirements.
On 22 March 2014, Schmitt said in a short interview that he had given up his plans for graduating as a PhD, but instead would write a monograph on the effects of sports on the environment and sustainable development, which would have been the theme of the promised degree thesis.
In January 2016, Schmitt was appointed Chairman of the Budapest 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games Bid Committee. Schmitt said "as Guardians of the Bid, it is our role to ensure that Budapest 2024 truly reflects our collective commitment to the values of Olympism".
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pál Schmitt.|
- Biography at olympic.org
- Personal profile of Pál Schmitt in the European Parliament's database of members
- Declaration (PDF) of financial interests (Hungarian)
- Topic tag at Politics.hu
|President of the Hungarian Olympic Committee
|President of the World Olympians Association
|Speaker of the National Assembly
|President of Hungary