BUDAPEST (Reuters) – A former Olympic champion who had just been re-elected mayor of a city in Hungary quit the ruling Fidesz party on Tuesday to limit the political fallout from a video purportedly showing him having sex with a young woman on a yacht.
Fidesz, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, portrays itself as a champion of Christian and family values, and Orban has criticised liberalism in Western society.
Zsolt Borkai, who won a gold medal in gymnastics at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and is married with two children, has apologised for actions he called a “mistake”.
But he said he would continue as mayor of Gyor in northern Hungary as an independent after being re-elected on Sunday despite the scandal.
“The events around me should not put Fidesz at a moral disadvantage,” Borkai told a news conference in Gyor that was shown by Hungary’s main independent news website, index.hu.
Borkai did not take questions at the news conference and he could not immediately be reached by Reuters by telephone. He said in a video message released last week that the footage on the yacht was “in part manipulated and in part genuine”, but did not deny having sex with the young woman.
It is unclear who shot the video or why it was taken during what Borkai described as a private trip on the yacht in the Adriatic Sea.
Though Borkai was re-elected in Gyor, Fidesz suffered its first election setback in a decade on Sunday when a coalition of opposition parties ousted the mayor of Budapest in a municipal election and Fidesz lost ground in big cities.
“The (Borkai) scandal was one of the factors that contributed to the opposition gaining ground in the election, as it dealt a blow to Fidesz’s campaign on Christian family values,” the Political Capital think-tank said.
Orban has not addressed Borkai’s case publicly.
(Reporting by Gergely Szakacs, Editing by Timothy Heritage)