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Government Forced To Negotiate As Land Bill Requires Two-Thirds Majority

Tamás Székely 2015.04.15.

Hungary’s Farm Minister Sándor Fazekas has said he will comply with a call by Fidesz group leader Antal Rogán to consult the opposition concerning a bill on leasing state-owned land that failed to pass on Tuesday. Earlier today a final vote on the amended land management bill on transferring asset management rights of state-owned land, including national parks, to the National Land Management Fund (NFA) lacked the two-thirds majority needed for it to pass. The government bill received 125 votes in favour and 71 against. Four lawmakers of the ruling Fidesz party, three ministers among them, voted against.

Antal Rogán later said that Farm Minister Sándor Fazekas, Economy Minister Mihály Varga and Defence Minister Csaba Hende had voted against the bill by mistake. The directorates of national parks currently manage some 300,000 hectares of protected land, and this stock is growing, environmentalists said earlier. If the bill passes, the NFA will take over the management of most of these lands. Rogán told a press conference today that the bill enjoys broad support among governing party lawmakers. He said the aim is that a single organisation should be in charge of managing all types of state-owned property, based on unified rules, in order to create transparency.

The radical nationalist Jobbik party has called on the government to “forget about” taking away the right to manage national parks. Zoltán Magyar, the party’s spokesman, noted that the bill, which he said aimed to take away national park land, had failed, giving environmentalists some breathing space.

The Socialists (MSZP) welcomed the postponement, which they said meant that “the law of land distribution has been knocked down”. “In a Fidesz party weakened by internal conflicts, even Viktor Orbán is unable to push everything through,” Gábor Harangozó, the party’s deputy leader, said, adding that the bill was unacceptable as it would put national parks in an impossible situation and “place land assets into the hands of Fidesz clientele”.

The left-wing opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) said national parks have “temporarily escaped”. Tibor Nagy-Huszein, the party’s deputy leader, told a press conference that there were several questionable parts of what he called a “batch law”. Under one provision, the owner would be allowed to transfer the responsibility of farming the land to local councils, which in turn could get fostered workers tasked with the job. In another provision Nagy-Huszein said commercial fishing is banned completely from natural waters. He said fishing on Lake Balaton and Lake Tisza was banned already in 2013 without any explanation.

The green opposition LMP called on Fazekas to refrain from re-submitting the bill to parliament. Benedek R Sallai, a spokesman for LMP, told a press conference that LMP is happy that the opposition had pulled together to prevent the bill from passing but gave warning that its sponsors could ask for a new vote by Friday.

via hungarymatters.hu photo: Gergely Botár – kormany.hu