Following that out of the blue, the central government voted on Tuesday to strip the capital of its authority over the decision-making about the Városliget (City Park) developments, the next day the opposition-led Assembly still voted in the amendment that would nix the construction of the last three buildings of the controversial Liget project. The government insists on sticking to their earlier promise and does not plan to build anything the incumbent leadership of the capital opposes.
As we previously reported, just one day before the Budapest Assembly’s Wednesday meeting, a government decree determined that the capital will not have the authority to amend construction rules. Most viewed this move as proof that the central government, contrary to the Prime Minister’s earlier promise, won’t give up on the project and still plans to realize its entirety (the fate of the already kick-started projects is not doubted anymore).
Wednesday debate in Assembly: Local Fidesz points to gov’t decree
In a debate before the amendment was passed, Fidesz group leader in the Budapest Assembly Zsolt Láng, pointed to the central government’s decision from one day earlier and called its approval “unlawful,” arguing that it went against a government decree fixing the project’s building regulations issued on Tuesday which says the capital will not have the authority to amend building rules set out in the decree.
Meanwhile, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony said the city’s leadership had offered to compromise on the project with the government by allowing completion of construction projects that were already underway in the area.
Opposition representatives of the assembly also criticized Fidesz for their statistics on the proportion of green areas, claiming they are based on false calculations. While Fidesz says that green areas wouldn’t decrease in the park, the opposition claims Fidesz calculations included the boating pond and the grass growing on the roofs of the buildings, something which shouldn’t be equal to centuries-old trees.
Zugló mayor outraged, Socialists announce referendum
Reacting to the government’s move, the opposition MSZP (Socialist Party) said they were prepared to initiate a referendum on the project to transform Budapest’s City Park (Liget) into a cultural venue if the government did not withdraw a decree on the building regulations concerning the project.
Addressing a press conference ahead of a meeting of the Budapest municipal assembly, Csaba Horváth, the mayor of the 14th district (Zugló, to where City Park officially belongs), called it “outrageous” that the government had published a decree on City Park’s building regulations a day before the city assembly had a chance to approve them.
Government: “storm in a teacup”
At his regular press briefing, the PMO Chief blamed the Budapest leadership and stated that contrary to their Tuesday decree, the remaining three buildings wouldn’t be realized. Gergely Gulyás argued that the government only moved to issue the decree about “…the listed sites’ buildings and structures which can be established in compliance with building regulations” because the Budapest Assembly had earlier voted in the ban on construction in the City Park that had been submitted without negotiating with the Budapest Public Development Council (FKT- consisting of five governmental and five Budapest Assembly members), something that breached their agreement.
Nevertheless, they still adhere to their position: the three buildings won’t be realized until the capital changes its opposing position.
featured image: ongoing works in the City Park; via Zoltán Máthé/MTI