Former Olympic Champion Elected President of Hungary

pal_schmittA two-time gold medalist of the summer Olympiad has been elected as the next president of the European nation of Hungary.

Pal Schmitt, 68, was elected by the Parliament of Hungary with an overwhelming majority of 263 out of 322 votes. He is set to succeed outgoing President Laszlo Solyom on August 5 this year. Solyom will end his five year term.

The President-elect is a leading figure in the Fidesz Party bringing concerns from the opposition that he will support the party’s efforts to change the constitution and limit press freedom.

Schmitt won the team épée gold medal (men’s fencing) at the 1968 Mexico City Summer Olympics and 1972 Munich Summer Olympics. He later became the Chief of Protocol of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and presided over the World Olympians Association between 1999 and 2007.

The role of president is largely ceremonial in the country. However, he can send any legislation back to parliament for consideration or refer them to the Constitutional Court.