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Debate over University of Theatre and Film rages on

August 17th, 2020

Left-wing and liberal authors accuse the government of dictatorial ambitions, after it appointed a pro-government board to run the Budapest University of Theatre and Film. A pro-government writer sees what is happening as part of a reasonable reform of higher education.

In its customary weekly editorial Magyar Narancs accuses the government of waging a war against anything and anybody in better shape than the pitiful state of Hungarian football which is lavishly subsidised through tax rebates. They view the decision to transfer control over the University of Theatre and Film from the Ministry of Human Resources to a public foundation as part of a project aimed at creating ‘darkness’, where it can remain in power forever. But as long as that darkness is not complete, the editors conclude, society ‘can still hope to chase out the leaders who betrayed them’, Magyar Narancs concludes.

In an interview with Demokrata, poet and writer László L. Simon, a Fidesz MP and former state secretary for Cultural Affairs defends the idea of the state running a few universities through foundations rather than directly through Cabinet ministers. The only such project that has raised uproar at home and abroad, he says, is the latest one and he attributes the controversy to liberal intellectuals who condemn them for what he calls using students as shields to protect their power positions in culture. Simon also condemns DK leader and former left-wing Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány who threatened the chairman of the foundation running the University with the prospect of ‘becoming a pauper’ if the opposition comes to power.

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