The Municipality of Budapest, headed by Gergely Karácsony, the leader of the opposition party Dialogue, has decided to curtail freedom of speech and the press with a resolution adopted by the General Assembly of Budapest on Wednesday. The proposal, voted through by the leftist majority, mandates that at least 4 pages be reserved for the messages of the Municipality of Budapest in any newspaper that is distributed free of charge on public grounds.
“This is beyond arrogant and ruthless. Hiding behind Erzsébet Gy. Németh and Csaba Horváth, Karácsony and co. are using the necessity of economic assistance to adopt legislation that lacks even minimal democratic justification and whose sole aim is to advance their political propaganda.” reacted the Fidesz-KDNP group in the General Assembly, led by Zsolt Láng when it became clear that it would become impossible to distribute a free newspaper on Budapest’s streets, unless it devotes four entire pages to content that it is given by the Municipality of Budapest. “Comrade Rákosi (the dictator of the Stalinist regime in Hungary 1949-1956) would have been proud of a scheme like this.” they added.
Péter Kovács, the mayor of the 16th district of Budapest also commented on the resolution, “I don’t even know what to say. It seems this is allowed to happen in 2020 in Budapest under the leadership of Gergely Karácsony. “Communist era propaganda was nothing compared to this.” he added.
The resolution clearly states that only those will be allowed to distribute their papers on public grounds that reserve four pages, free of charge, for the municipal authorities to publish any content they choose.
An interesting peculiarity of the resolution was that it was submitted to a vote in the General Assembly of Budapest as an element of the economic rescue package, in order to hide it from curious eyes until it was too late.
The city council members from Fidesz-KDNP moved to have a vote on the amendment separately form the entire package. They stressed that it is impossible to pass such a resolution in a democracy. However, in the end, the leftist majority voted yes, and the resolution was adopted.