László Sólyom

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László Sólyom

László Sólyom [ ˈlaːsloː ˈʃoːjom ] (born January 3, 1942 in Pécs ) is a Hungarian lawyer , librarian , politician and was the country's president from 2005 to 2010 .

Education and university career

Sólyom obtained the general university entrance qualification in Pécs and studied law at the University of Pécs . In 1964 he earned a doctorate. A year later he trained as a librarian at the Széchényi National Library . He continued his studies at various universities ( Hamburg , Cologne and Berkeley ) with various scholarships .

He worked in the court of Kispest as a trainee lawyer, from 1966 to 1969 he taught at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena . He then worked at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Parliament Library .

Sólyom taught at Loránd Eötvös University from 1983 to 1996 , after which he was appointed professor at the Péter Pázmány Catholic University in Budapest . From 2002 he also taught at the German-speaking Gyula Andrássy University .

He worked with the constitutional lawyer Georg Brunner , with whom he wrote several non-fiction books on constitutional law. Between 1999 and 2000 he was visiting professor at the University of Cologne . His research areas are constitutional law and civil law .

Career in public life

Sólyom only became politically active in the late 1980s. He was an advisor to unofficial environmental movements and took part in the “Lakitelek Meeting” (lakitelki találkozó) , where the country's leading opposition figures met to discuss the situation in Hungary. There the Christian conservative party MDF (Hungarian Democratic Forum) came into being in 1987, of which he became a founding member. In 1989 he was a member of the party presidium for a short time.

Sólyom took part in the “National Round Table Negotiations” (Nemzeti Kerekasztal-tárgyalások) and was involved in the drafting of the current Hungarian constitution . He is considered a staunch advocate of an "invisible constitution".

From 1989 to 1998 Sólyom was the presiding judge of the Hungarian Constitutional Court . That is why he left the MDF and has been non-party ever since. During his tenure, the death penalty was declared unconstitutional, the principle of indemnity was given priority and freedom of expression was strengthened.

Sólyom was a co-founder and board member of the environmental and civil rights organization Védegylet in 2000 , which campaigned strongly for his candidacy for president. After his election, he gave up his presidium office.


In 2005 Védegylet proposed Sólyom first as president. 110 intellectuals with different views of the world later joined. First his ex-party, the MDF , later Fidesz spoke out in favor of him. He always saw himself as a candidate for the civil sphere. Sólyom is considered liberal-conservative.

The election took place on June 6th and 7th, 2005. His opponent was the socialist parliamentary speaker Katalin Szili . The small coalition partner, the liberal SZDSZ , did not take part in the election because its MPs returned the ballot papers immediately upon receipt.

The Hungarian parliament had 386 members at that time, of which the governing parties had 198 (MSZP 178, SZDSZ 20), the opposition 177 (Fidesz 169, MDF 8), the independent 11 members (9 from the MDF, 2 from the Fidesz parliamentary group) .

In the first ballot (June 6th) the Fidesz group did not take part either to find out how much support there is for Szili. 183 MPs voted for Szili and 13 for Sólyom.

Fidesz took part again in the second ballot (June 7th). 178 MPs voted for Szili and 185 MPs for Sólyom. A two-thirds majority is required in the first two ballots (257 votes).

Sólyom was elected President of Hungary in the third ballot (June 7th) with a simple majority (185 voted for him, 182 for Szili) and succeeded Ferenc Mádl on August 5th, 2005 . His term of office is five years.

Between and after the ballots there were unusually harsh and sharp political accusations for a presidential election (voting for the other candidate, unconstitutionality, violation of the principle of secret voting, etc.). Therefore, voices were raised in support of an indirect presidential election. Nevertheless, Sólyom's election as an opposition candidate was considered historic.

After Fidesz won a two-thirds majority in the April 2010 general election , the new government turned its back on the uncomfortable Sólyom. Instead, she nominated Parliamentary Speaker Pál Schmitt for election on June 29, 2010. Sólyom's term of office ended on August 5, 2010.

Sólyom speaks German , English and French .


Sólyom is married to the teacher Erzsébet Nagy, has two grown children and nine grandchildren.


In 1998 he was honored with the Humboldt Prize . In the same year he received the Great Cross of Merit with a Star in Germany . In 1999 he was awarded an honorary doctorate (Dr. hc) from the University of Cologne. He has been a corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Magyar Tudományos Akadémia, MTA) since 2001 . He has received several state honors. In October 2006 he received an honorary doctorate from the JW Goethe University Frankfurt a. M.

Fonts (selection)

  • The garb of the Basic Law: two constitutional icons - Hungary and Germany . Berlin: Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2017

Web links

Commons : László Sólyom  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The Press: Hungary: The Tragic End of László Solyom , June 28, 2010.
  2. Humboldt and Paul Prize Winners | Humboldt Association Hungary. Retrieved November 10, 2019 .