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The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban has passed a bill that will put the country’s most prestigious scientific institute under the control of the parliament.

The controversial bill which was passed by 66% of the parliamentary members, allows parliament to takeover a research institute that is overseen by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA). The new law will go into effect in September of 2019. All the information and research will require scientific institutes to hand over its research to Eotvos Lorand Research Network which is a state-owned board which reports directly to the prime minister.

The Government insists that the goal is to boost the funding and efficiency of Hungary’s under-performing research and development sector. The government has suggested it could cut or increase funding to MTA's research bodies depending on the areas they study. Critics of the Prime Minister say the move to take control of MTA, is part of a much larger systematic take of Hungary’s key institutions. Additionally, critics say that the next step for Orban’s government is to take control of academic and cultural institutions in an effort to rewrite history. This move and other like it was outlined by the Prime Minister shortly after his reelection.

Treat to Academic Thinking

The Prime Ministers first move towards tightening his grip on education came in 2013 when the national curriculum was put under centralized government control. While the introduction of academic works by fascists was the impetus for large protests in Hungary the campaign by the government has accelerated.

In 2018, university gender studies programs were terminated, and the prestigious Central European University was forced to move to Vienna. Currently, the MTA is not the only research institute fighting for its life. Last month, the 1956 Institute, was folded into the government-run Veritas Institute. Prime Minister Orban is reported to have built a network of friendly oligarchs to absorb subsidies coming from Brussels, home to the EU headquarters. This has put pressure on the Forint which can be view on iFOREX.

The Treat Could Reach Social Sciences

Laszlo Lovasz, the current President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) shared his concerns on the future of research. He said that that if the Ministry of Innovation can decide which project now take priority, they could undermine the independence of scientific research. Lovasz reminded Hungarian politicians that the European Commission had made a strong statement about the protection of the freedoms in science. The MTA's president believes that these changes could pose a greater threat to the independence of social science which is even more sensitive to abuse of power.

The process appears to be a slow erosion of the independence of the private sector. By grabbing control of science and education, the advancement of new technological and scientific processes will be completely controlled by the government. Historically this has led to weak economic growth as the only investment will come from government funds as the private sector will move to more lucrative hunting grounds.


Hungary’s Parliament Tightens its Hold on Scientists
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