Budapest, September 26 (MTI) – The opposition Socialist and LMP parties have joined forces to protest against a government bill on how revenue from the sale of state farmland should be used. They argue that instead of ploughing the money into rural localities, as it had promised to do before, the government was now turning funds towards reducing the public debt.
At a joint news conference on Monday, Benedek R Sallai (LMP) and Zoltán Gőgös (Socialist) noted that the government had submitted two proposals to parliament on how the revenue should be spent.
A government law which required a two-thirds majority already specifies that the revenues can only be spent on rural projects and small and medium-sized farm holdings. At the same time, the government has said an amendment would be submitted to allow the revenues also to be spent on reducing the public debt. Gőgös also said the ruling Fidesz party wanted to decide the issue through a parliamentary decree when the Socialist Party had already initiated a referendum on the matter. The Socialists’ initiative of a national referendum on preventing the further sale of state-owned farmland was quashed in July by the National Election Office.
Gőgös called Fidesz’s manoeuvre a “cheap trick” to avoid declaring their position on whether they supported the referendum or not.
To pass such an amendment with a simple majority would also “legitimise all past land sales”, which the Socialists regard as improper, he added.
He insisted that the ruling party had “lied many times about reducing the public debt”. The Socialist politician said the biggest lie had concerned use of 3 trillion forints “stolen” from the pension system.
Both politicians said they refused to assist in Fidesz’s move. Neither would they accept the government using a simple majority law to change one that required a two-thirds majority.
Fidesz insisted in a statement that the opposition was “unpatriotic and unfriendly to farmers”. Even in government, the Socialists always defended the interests of foreign speculative investors and large landowners, in contrast to the Fidesz government, which has managed to keep farmland in the hands of Hungarians, the statement said.