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Prime Minister moves into his new office in the Buda Castle District

January 1st, 2019

As the building of the new office of the Prime Minister has been completed in a refurbished former monastery on Castle Hill, opinions diverge on whether that fact symbolises the separation of powers or the PM’s pivotal role in the current political setup.

In Népszava, former MSZP Chair Ildikó Lendvai mocks Parliament Speaker Lászó Kövér’s opinion that the transfer of the Prime Minister’s office ‘will be a celebration of democracy’. Mr Kövér argued that it was undemocratic to have both Parliament and the Prime Minister’s office in one and the same building. (The President’s office was also there until 2003. During his first term as PM, Mr Orbán had the Sándor Palace rebuilt on Castle Hill. The palace hosted the Prime Minister’s Office before it was destroyed in World War Two. His Socialist successor, Péter Medgyessy refused to move over and the offices of the President were moved there instead from the Parliament building.) Lendvai sarcastically writes that even if the government cut telephone lines between Castle Hill and Parliament, and even if it pulled down the Chain Bridge to cut Buda Castle from Pest, the Prime Minister would still remain the real man in charge of Parliament, since under the Fidesz Party Charter he nominates Fidesz candidates for seats in Parliament.

On Mandiner, Gergely Szilvay  rejects an argument by Katalin Jánosi, Imre Nagy’s granddaughter, who interpreted the transfer of the PM’s Office to Castle Hill as an expression of pretentiousness. At a protest demonstration against the removal of her grandfather’s monument from its original site (See BudaPost, December 31), she said Imre Nagy lived in a flat he rented from his salary. Szilvay retorts that Imre Nagy lived in a villa that had been confiscated from a family of Holocaust survivors. His main argument, however, is that Mr Orbán will not live on Castle Hill. It is his office that has been transferred there. The pro-government columnist concedes that the decision to move Imre Nagy’s statue half a mile north from its original site can reasonably be disputed, but that discussion, he writes, has no relevance to the transfer of the Prime Minister’s office.

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