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Hungarian Press Roundup: Government Tables Controversial MTA Bill

Hungary Today 2019.06.07.

A pro-government columnist accuses the Academy of Sciences of trying to keep far left historical personalities in the symbolic national pantheon. A left-wing commentator hopes that the government may still reconsider its plans to move the Academy’s research centres to a new foundation.

Hungarian press roundup by budapost.eu

Background information: According to the bill on the reform of government-sponsored scientific research submitted by the Minister of Innovation and Technology to Parliament on Tuesday, the Academy’s 15 research centres will operate under the auspices of a public foundation whose chairman will be jointly chosen by the competent Minister and the President of the Academy. Half of the 12 board members will be delegated by the Minister, while the remaining six will be chosen by the Academy. The Academy has protested, claiming that the bill fails to respect safeguards established in a compromise agreement reached earlier with the government and demands that the board of the future foundation should take important decisions by a two-thirds majority.

In Népszava, Tamás Beck thinks ‘robbing the Academy of Sciences of its wealth may prove politically suicidal’. Greens and Liberals, he explains, have gained strength as a result of the European Parliamentary elections and exert pressure on the People’s Party to rein in Fidesz. As a first step, he remarks, the government has withdrawn the bill on the reform of the judiciary, dropping its idea to set up a new court structure to rule on matters involving public administration. By backing down on the reform of scientific research as well, Beck writes, PM Orbán would prove that he is a realist.

In Magyar Nemzet, György Pilhál excoriates the Academy for failing to object to streets being named after those he calls extreme left-wing historical figures in the northern Hungarian city of Salgótarján. The law says streets and squares cannot be named after supporters of totalitarian regimes or those who helped pave the way for them. Authorities, the law says, should consult the Academy of Sciences in each case where doubts arise. The left-wing majority of the Salgótarján city council dismissed requests to change the names of seven streets based on the opinion of the Academy of Sciences. ‘With all due respect to the academicians’, Pilhál writes ironically, all seven of the names are connected to the history of Communism.