On Wednesday, Forbes Magazine released its sixth list of Hungary’s most influential women, which now has two members of Viktor Orbán’s cabinet in the top three: Minister for Family and Youth Affairs Katalin Novák at the very top and Justice Minister Judit Varga in third position.
Forbes wrote that Novák — who, in addition to her ministerial position is also the vice-president of Fidesz and a member of parliament — is “the architect and the face of the family support program that has become the government’s main campaign tool, who was able to gather huge resources for her plans even to the detriment of other ministries. Her influence is further enhanced by the fact that, as the head of Fidesz’s foreign relations, she is also in charge of relations with the European People’s Party.”
Second is Prime Minister Orbán’s daughter, Ráhel, (31), described by Forbes as “the invisible hand behind the tourism and fashion industry”.
Last year’s new entrant to the list, then “rising star” Justice Minister Judit Varga, dubbed by Dutch and German media as “Orbán’s charm cannon”, jumped to the third spot.
The top ten in the public life category also includes the minister without portfolio in charge of national wealth, Andrea Bártfai-Máger, in fourth position. An economist by training, she had a long career in the banking sector and was appointed to her current position in 2018. This year, she slipped three positions from being first last year. Her ubiquitous media presence due to the coronavirus pandemic propelled Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller straight to the eighth position on the list, followed by Orbán’s spouse, Anikó Lévai, in ninth position.
As “plus one” to the usually ten-strong list, biochemist Karikó Katalin was also included. She is vice-president of medical firm BioNTech, assistant professor of the University of Pennsylvania and most notably co-developer of the mRNA-mediated immune activation now used in modern COVID-19 vaccines.
Title image: Minister for Family and Youth Affairs Katalin Novák. (MTI/Márton Mónus)