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Hungarian Dual Citizen Elected President of New Zealand Governing Party

Péter Cseresnyés 2019.12.02.

The New Zealand social democrat Labour Party has elected New Zealand-Hungarian dual citizen Claire Szabo as its new president. The 41-year-old politician, self-described as of Hungarian-kiwi origins, was elected at the party’s annual conference in Whanganui on Saturday, 444.hu reports.

At the age of 17, Szabo’s father fled Hungary in 1956, and started a new life in New Zealand. He worked as an engineer in the country. His daughter, Claire Szabo, was already born in the country, but traveled to Hungary for a few years at the age of 19. She lived in the country for five years, where she learned the Hungarian language and also acquired Hungarian citizenship. She then returned to New Zealand to work for Habitat for Humanity, a charity which builds houses for people with low incomes and also began her political career at the social democrats.

In her written statement to conference delegates, Szabo emphasized that she was the daughter of a refugee and a nurse, the wife of a teacher, and a working mother of two small children, who understands the challenges of everyday life. She also mentioned that her mother often worked night shifts and her father worked for the local council. They lived in a council-owned house that they had a chance to buy after some time; this taught her about the difference housing and home ownership can make.

She also pointed out she was looking forward to get the party “fighting fit” for the 2020 election.

The Labour Party chair vacancy was created after former president Nigel Haworth resigned in September amid claims he had mishandled complaints about a sexual assault allegation against a staffer and volunteer of the party.

Featured photo via Facebook