Plenary On Contested Liget Project Abandoned

  • 21 Jul 2016 9:00 AM
Plenary On Contested Liget Project Abandoned
The plenary session of parliament initiated by the opposition to debate the contested Liget project has been abandoned for lack of a quorum. Wednesday’s session was convened by the parliamentary speaker to debate the initiative of the co-leader of the Dialogue for Hungary party, Tímea Szabó, who wants the law that greenlighted the contested Liget project in City Park to be scrapped.

Her initiative was supported by deputies of the opposition Socialist Party, green LMP and radical nationalist Jobbik parties, as well as by independent lawmakers.

The law which parliament passed in 2013 declares the Liget project, which involves building a new museum complex in City Park next to Heroes’ Square, a priority state project. Environmentalists have been protesting for months against the project they fear would ruin the popular public park.

The session began with addresses by lawmakers, but for a vote to be passed on the motion the presence of at least half of the assembly’s members would have been required.

Lajos Kósa, the ruling Fidesz party’s group leader, branded the plenary as “an unserious bluff”, since Szabó herself and many of supporting deputies had boycotted the vote.

He derided the exercise as a silly-season PR stunt. Kósa told a press conference that for the motion to be debated the sponsor should be present.

Szabó said she would resubmit a motion to hold a session by the early autumn. She insisted that the parliamentary speaker should have chosen a day when ruling party MPs were present.

Last week, Kósa said only a single member of Fidesz’s parliamentary group would turn up since he “does not want to assist the opposition’s charade”.

Meanwhile, Szabó said demolition work in City Park has released carcinogenic asbestos powder into the environment. The park’s lake has also been “contaminated”, she said.

A lawmaker of radical nationalist Jobbik said the failure of Wednesday’s session was proof that the governing parties were totally neglecting opposition initiatives. “The governing parties have now said ‘no’ to finding a solution to the Liget project that would serve the interest of every resident,” Lajos Kepli said.

A green opposition LMP representative said the session proved that Fidesz was uninterested in a public discussion of affairs. Instead of trying to find a solution to issues, the ruling party wants to force its own will onto Budapest, Antal Csárdi, the party’s representative in the City Council, said.

The Socialist Party’s Budapest chapter chief, Ágnes Kunhalmi, insisted every sign of a dictatorial state apparatus was apparent in the City Park, and the representation of the interests of the government in the project was “naked to the eye”.

The aggression experienced in the park, she said, demonstrated that Fidesz is afraid of its powers. She said the case of the City Park went beyond the fate of a park and spoke of “a weak municipal leadership and an even weaker, but more violent government policy”.

Gergely Csák, spokesman of the Ligetvédők (park defence) NGO, said that Fidesz refused to listen to the wishes of the country not to have concrete in the City Park. He told reporters in front of Parliament that the issue of protecting the park was not just a local one but the whole country was preoccupied with the matter.

Republished with permission of Hungary Matters, MTI’s daily newsletter.

MTI photo: Balogh Zoltán

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