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Row over Hungarian Chamber of Physicians

March 1st, 2023

A pro-government author agrees with the new law weakening the authority of the Hungarian Chamber of Physicians. Liberal commentators are divided over the issue. The law was passed comfortably by the large Fidesz majority in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.

The law terminates the mandatory membership of medical doctors in the Hungarian Chamber of Physicians. According to the Ministry of Interior, the Chamber abused its power and pressurised general practitioners to reject the government’s reform of primary healthcare services by not signing their new service contracts. Gyula Kincses, chairman of the Chamber denied the government’s allegation that the chamber threatened to suspend doctors who are willing to sign the new contracts.

Magyar Nemzet’s Ottó Gajdics welcomes the government’s decision to eliminate mandatory chamber membership. The pro-government commentator accuses the Hungarian Chamber of Physicians of siding with the opposition and trying to boycott health care services. Gajdics claims that opposition parties that cannot get into power through the democratic process are applying the strategy of Saul Alinskym, the theorist of radical left-wing activism, to paralyse public services. He condemns such acts as undemocratic and morally irresponsible.

On the Jelen website, Tamás Gomperz, a former health advisor and politician of the now defunct liberal SZDSZ party defines the proposal to weaken the Chamber as a ‘Communist-era measure’ intended to silence and eliminate independent organizations that dare to criticize the government. Gomperz believes that the bill will further weaken checks and balances in Hungary, rather than increasing freedom, as the government claims.

Mandiner quotes a Facebook comment by Zoltán Ceglédi, another left-wing liberal analyst and political advisor, who finds the elimination of mandatory chamber membership good riddance. Ceglédi recalls that in 2007, the Socialist-Liberal government abolished mandatory membership, which Fidesz reinstated in 2011. Ceglédi thinks that liberals should be consistent and oppose mandatory membership in any professional chambers.

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