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Former Deputy State Secretary Appointed to Head Atomic Authority for Nine Years

Ábrahám Vass 2022.01.04.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán named one of his former deputy state secretaries to head the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority (AOH) for the next nine years. A few months ago, Fidesz initiated to take the body out of the public’s control, which the ruling parties’ majority supported in Parliament. This gave the AOH independence from future governments. The body is especially important in light of the Paks upgrade project involving Russia, a highly contested topic in Hungary.

Andrea Beatrix Kádár began her professional career in the Foreign Ministry, making it to the high ranks of public administration during the Orbán administrations. Between 2012 and 2014, she worked in the Prime Minister’s Office as Deputy State Secretary heading the Bureau of National Security. In July 2014, she was appointed as Deputy State Secretary for Energy Affairs at the Ministry of National Development.

Atomic Energy Authority taken out of the future government’s oversight

Telex reported that AOH’s importance lies in the fact that it decides on the Paks 2 project’s construction permit, i.e. to approve the construction of two more power plant units by Russia’s Rosatom. Back when the authority still belonged to the government, they refused to give the green-light for the permit and ordered a further completion of the licensing procedure. This has in fact delayed the large-scale expansion project

As we previously reported, a government decision took the supervision of Hungary’s atomic energy production out of the public’s control, giving the AOH much more independence from future governments. The ruling gave the incumbent Prime Minister the ability to appoint the AOH president for a term of at least nine years, meaning that consecutive prime ministers will not be able to interfere with this appointment.

The government argued that it wanted to provide greater independence for the body, which the PMO Head claimed was also requested by the EU. But since the Paks upgrade, the Russian loan, and, to a larger extent, the use of nuclear energy in Hungary, are heated and much criticized topics, which the opposition has promised to revise if it wins the next election, it is easy to see why this decision, in which a future potential opposition government loses influence over the body, is highly contested.

Several other cases for “outsourcing” public institutes

In addition, the move fits well into a recent chain reaction of government rulings to move public institutions out of the government’s jurisdiction, which critics attribute to Orbán’s aim to maintain power and influence over huge assets, even in the case of a potential electoral defeat, which are not only questionable but also undemocratic, according to many.

Some 70% of the Hungarian universities have been put under the supervision of foundations, led mostly by right-wing and/or pro-Fidesz figures. That it wasn’t free of political considerations, Viktor Orbán himself confirmed when he said that “I cannot wholeheartedly recommend anyone on this board of trustees who is, otherwise, an internationalist-globalist. Because then universities would be taken in that direction too.”

Opposition Turns to Constitutional Court over Ruling Parties Outsourcing Public Assets and Unis
Opposition Turns to Constitutional Court over Ruling Parties Outsourcing Public Assets and Unis

They called it "unacceptable that the Orbán government, fearing an election defeat in 2022, is handing public funds to its strawmen."Continue reading

Moreover, the newly created Supervisory Authority for Regulated Activities will oversee tobacco trade, the lottery market, the contact list of liquidators, concession tasks, and even enforcement proceedings. It also coincides with decisions to move castles, harbors, parks, clinics, and lands formerly owned by the public into the hands of foundations created by the government.

The Fidesz administration also recently voted in a bill which stipulates that Chief Prosecutor Péter Polt (who has been regularly criticized by the opposition of playing according to the government’s rules) can only be removed from office by a qualified (two-thirds) majority instead of a simple majority.

Media Authority Denies Gov't-Critical Klubrádió's Bid
Media Authority Denies Gov't-Critical Klubrádió's Bid

On Thursday, Hungary’s media authority (NMHH) swept Klubrádió’s bid off the table for the 92.9 MHz frequency, formerly used by one of the last widely-available, government-critical radio stations in Hungary, without declaring a recipient. According to the head of the radio station, the decision is “cowardly, vile, and illegal,” while media watchdog IPI says Fidesz […]Continue reading

And in the latest move, the government-appointed András Koltay (former leader of the National University of Public Service) to head the Media Authority for the next nine years after Mónika Karas’s sudden resignation. Karas’s term would have been completed in September 2022, but due to her resignation, the Fidesz-led parliamentary majority had the chance to decide on her successor before next year’s general elections.

featured image illustration via Tamás Sóki/MTI


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