Who’s who in the new Hungarian government and why it matters
End of the “superministry”
Structurally, the most crucial change is the end of the “super-ministry” of human capacities, which, among other things, dealt with culture, education and health, and has been heavily criticized for its mismanagement of COVID-19 pandemic. It is still unclear which ministry will take charge of education and health, but there is strong speculation that the Home Office will take care of both.
Although this decision may seem unusual at first glance, the Minister of the Interior Sandor Pinter is the only cabinet member to remain in office in Orban’s five governments, including the first (1998-2002), and is considered one of the prime minister’s most trusted allies.
Another trusted ally is Antal Rogan, who, as head of the Prime Minister’s Office, will control all civilian intelligence services – something unprecedented in Hungary.
There will be changes at the Ministry of Defence. The new minister will be Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky, a businessman with good Russian connections as well as the husband of government spokeswoman Alexandra Szentkiralyi. Last fall, Szalay-Bobrovniczky became a majority shareholder in the Czech company Aero Vodochody, from which the Hungarian government purchased 12 military aircraft.
Nearly two-thirds of ministers are familiar faces from the last Orban government, including the combative Minister of Justice Judit Varga, who will be the only woman in the cabinet. Still, at least Varga and his cabinet colleagues will be officially nominated by a female president for the first time, after Katalin Novak was sworn in. inaugurated on Saturday.
The structure and membership of the new Orban government reflects what the prime minister believes will be the most significant challenges over the next four years. It seems that health care, social issues and education – all without their own ministry – are not among them.