Pál Schmitt

The native form of this personal name is Schmitt Pál. This article uses the Western name order.
Pál Schmitt
4th President of Hungary
In office
6 August 2010  2 April 2012
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán
Preceded by László Sólyom
Succeeded by László Kövér (Acting)
János Áder
Speaker of the National Assembly
In office
14 May 2010  5 August 2010
Preceded by Béla Katona
Succeeded by László Kövér
Vice President of the European Parliament
In office
14 July 2009  13 May 2010
Member of the National Assembly
In office
14 May 2010  5 August 2010
Personal details
Born (1942-05-13) 13 May 1942
Budapest, Hungary
Political party Fidesz
Spouse(s) Katalin Makray
Children Gréta
Religion Roman Catholic
Olympic medal record
Men's fencing
Representing  Hungary
1968 Mexico City Team Épée
1972 Munich Team Épée

Pál Schmitt (Hungarian: Schmitt Pál, Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈʃmitː ˈpaːl]; born 13 May 1942) is a Hungarian Olympic fencer and politician who served as President of Hungary from 2010 to 2012.

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.[1] 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.[2]

Sporting career

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.[3][4] 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.

Political career

Pál Schmitt in 2011

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).[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]

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.[8] He was elected with the support of the Fidesz and Christian Democratic People's (KDNP) parties,[9] receiving 263 out of 322 votes. András Balogh of the Socialist Party received 59 votes.[10]

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."[11] 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.[12] 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.[13]

Drafting of a new constitution began in 2010, and was finalized by 11 April 2011, being adopted by Parliament on 18 April.[14][15][16] 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.[17][18] 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.[19]

He created a sensation[20][21] by personally identifying himself with the government's politics repeatedly in an interview with Time on 15 October 2010.[22] 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.[23]

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.[24][25][26][27]

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.[28]

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.[29] 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.[30] 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.[31] Additional plagiarized sources, including 17 pages written by the German sport sociologist Klaus Heinemann,[32] were identified later. Semmelweis University announced that a fact-finding committee would investigate the matter.[33][34] 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").[35] 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.[36] On 29 March 2012 the Senate of Semmelweis University decided to revoke the degree.[37][38]

On 2 April 2012 Schmitt announced his resignation as President, saying that he felt the plagiarism debate had divided the country.[2][39][40] 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.[41]

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.[42]

After presidency

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".[43]


  1. "Pal Schmitt elected new president of Hungary". Politics.Hu. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
  2. 1 2 Facsar, Fanni (2 April 2012). "Hungary's president quits over alleged plagiarism". CNN. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
  3. "Pál Schmitt Olympic Results". sports-reference.com. Retrieved 29 December 2010.
  4. "Hongrie: le conservateur Pal Schmitt élu président de la République" (in French). Agence France-Presse. 29 June 2010. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  5. "Profile: Pal Schmitt: Hungary's sporty new president". Earth Times. 29 June 2010. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  6. "Election results – 2002 mayoral election in Budapest". Valasztas.hu. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
  7. Simon, Zoltan (29 June 2010). "Hungary Premier Orban Nominates Schmitt for President". Bloomberg Businessweek. Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  8. "Fencing ace is Hungarian president". Press Association. 29 June 2010. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  9. Turner, Rob (29 June 2010). "Hungarian parliament elects former Olympian as new president". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  10. "Schmitt is Hungary's president". Straits Times. Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings. 29 June 2010. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  11. Dunai, Marton (29 June 2010). "Hungary's next president says will support govt". Reuters. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  12. Haiman Éva:. "Ellensúly helyett egyensúly – Beiktatták Schmitt Pált". Vg.hu. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  13. "Socialists, LMP snub "insulting" invite to inauguration ceremony". Politics.hu. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  14. Goulas Soup, Hungary's New Constitution, Economist, 7 Apr 2011 |
  15. "Hungary's new constitution drafted by next March, says Fidesz official", politics.hu, 2 August 2010; accessed 18 August 2010
  16. (Hungarian) accessed 13 March 2011
  17. "Elszólta magát Schmitt Pál – FN24". Fn.hu. 15 April 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  18. "Szent István a mérce Schmitt Pálnak – FN24". Fn.hu. 29 June 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  19. "Az emberek embere | Hetek Archívum". Hetek.hu. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  20. "Political Capital: Schmitt Pál: Független vagyok magunktól". Politicalcapital.hu. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  21. "Hungaropress". Hungaropress.hu. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  22. Hungary's Economic Game Plan (Time magazine)
  23. "KEH". Keh.hu. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  24. "Itthon: Helyesírási hibákkal van tele Schmitt Pál fogalmazványa". HVG.hu. 4 February 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  25. "Hírek: Védje meg a Hírszerzővel a magyar nyelvet Schmitt Páltól!". hirszerzo.hu. 19 November 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  26. "168 Óra – Nevetség tárgyává vált Schmitt Pál". 168ora.hu. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  27. "A Köztársasági Elnöki Hivatal honlapján megjelent újévi köszöntő helyesírási hibái". Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  28. Népszabadság Gábor Török: Schmitt új elnöki példát teremtett (in Hungarian) at nol.hu
  29. http://www.sote.hu/oktatas/tf/
  30. "Súlyos plágiumgyanú Schmitt Pál doktori értekezése körül". HVG.hu. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  31. "Schmitt Pál hivatala visszautasítja a plágiumvádakat". HVG.hu. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  32. "Nem mondott igazat Magyarország elnöke: Schmitt 17 oldalt emelt be egy német kutatótól". HVG. 19 January 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  33. "Közlemény". sote.hu (Press release) (in Hungarian). 17 January 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  34. Edith Balazs (18 January 2012). "Hungarian University to Probe Presidential Plagiarism Allegation". Bloomberg. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  35. SE-TSK Tényfeltáró Bizottság (29 March 2012). "Összefoglaló Schmitt Pál ún. kisdoktori értekezése tárgyában" (PDF). Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  36. Fluck, Ákos (27 March 2012). "Dr. Fluck Ákos bizottsági tagnak a Semmelweis Egyetem Testnevelési és Sporttudományi Kara által Schmitt Pál ún. kisdoktori értekezése vizsgálatára fel állított tényfeltáró bizottság jelentéséhez füzott Különvéleménye" (PDF). Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  37. Shrivastava, Sanskar (2 April 2012). "Hungarian President Pál Schmitt Resigned Over Plagiarized PhD". Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  38. "Press Release: Semmelweis University's Senate has revoked Pál Schmitt's doctorate (dr. univ.)" (Press release). Semmelweiss University. 30 March 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  39. "Schmitt Pál lemondott" (in Hungarian). 2 April 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  40. A.L.B (2 April 2012). "Hungary's plagiarizing president Schmitt quits". The Economist. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
  41. "Former president Schmitt formally surrenders title of doctor tainted by plagiarism" (Press release). Politics.hu. 16 May 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  42. "Így nem lesz soha doktor Schmitt Pál". HVG. 2014-03-22. Retrieved 2014-08-11.
  43. "Pál Schmitt appointed President of Budapest 2024 as full Bid Committee is announced". insidethegames.biz. 2016-01-15. Retrieved 2016-04-20.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pál Schmitt.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Gábor Deák
President of the Hungarian Olympic Committee
Succeeded by
Zsolt Borkai
Preceded by
Peter Montgomery
President of the World Olympians Association
Succeeded by
Dick Fosbury
Political offices
Preceded by
Béla Katona
Speaker of the National Assembly
Succeeded by
László Kövér
Preceded by
László Sólyom
President of Hungary
Succeeded by
László Kövér
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