The Hungarian parliament has passed a bill restructuring the relationship between state funding and what research is conducted by the country’s scientific sector in a move that domestic and international critics claim constitutes a ‘crackdown on science.’
The bill, which passed the right-wing Fidesz-dominated parliament by a vote of 131-53, transfers control over 15 research centers from the autonomous Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) to a new independent body, Eotvos Lorand Research Network (ELKH). The governing board of ELKH is to be composed of 13 members: six state delegates, six academic delegates, and a chairman appointed by the prime minister, with decisions made by simple majority. In addition, the new law provides for significant increases in state funding of scientific research, and creates the National Council on Scientific Policy (NTT) for the purpose of determining what directions deserve greatest focus.
Orban has argued that the increase and restructuring of provision of state funds is necessary to ensure that the research done is relevant and beneficial to the needs of the Hungarian people and the national economy. However, domestic protestors and international critics argue that the state’s refined control over the use of its resources constitutes a dangerous attack on a previously independent social institution.
The law pits the nationalist Orban against the globalist European Union, which has been chronically critical of Hungary’s demonstrations of sovereignty and Orban’s government since he took office, despite (or perhaps because of) his impressive prediction-defying economic success story, which has included exerting control over banking and financial sectors and reorienting the economy for the benefit of Hungarian workers and native capitalists and increasing employment.