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MTA opposes government’s reform plans

May 9th, 2019

As the General Assembly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) adopts counter-proposals to the radical reform of scientific research envisaged by the government, a left-wing commentator thinks Cabinet Minister Palkovics has, for the first time, failed in his effort to appease opposition to the government.

The MTA General Assembly adopted a resolution demanding that the network of its research institutions should remain within the Academy’s framework. In a concession to the government, they suggested that their management should be in the hands of a new body whose chairman should be chosen by consensus between the competent Minister and the Academy, and where the government should have one third of the votes. The government originally wanted to attach most of those research centres to various universities, then suggested that they should be overseen by a new, government appointed agency. Before the MTA vote on Monday, Mr László Palkovics, the Cabinet Minister for Innovation and Research said that if his proposal was rejected by MTA, the government would draft new legislation to put it through.

In Népszava, Kata F. Szabó describes Mr Palkovics as an exceptionally successful crisis manager, but suspects that this time his tactics have failed. As a State Secretary in charge first of of public education then of higher education, he managed to quell nationwide protests against the centralization of the primary and secondary school systems, then against increasing government control over universities. In both cases he successfully dragged out the negotiations until the protests ran out of steam. This time, however, Szabó writes, the academicians have stood firm and the Minister will either have to resort to openly confrontational methods or retreat.

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