Bálint Magyar, the education minister has appointed openly left-liberal figures to the management councils that are to help run the universities. The opposition is crying foul, but Magyar says personalities from the right declined the offer to participate.

Two finance ministers from the Horn government and two from the Medgyessy government could play a key role in the reform of Hungarian higher education. This, at least, is the hope of Bálint Magyar, who has appointed them to serve on the university management councils that are to be established on March 1. The 69 council members are appointed by the government to serve five year terms - and it is not only the former finance ministers who have to prove that there appointment is due to more than their previous political roles. They will be paid HUF150,000 per month while serving, pocket money in the kinds of circles these people move in. István Csillag, the Free Democrat economics minister under Medgyessy has also been appointed.

Only time will show if council membership will be a purely honorary role, or whether the seven to nine member boards - most of whom are appointed by the universities themselves - will become major players in university administration. Their legal powers are very limited: the councils are weakened supervisory bodies. This is because the Constitutional Court last year struck down provisions that would have allowed the minister to appoint his own management body above university senates. The new-style management councils will have a
purely advisory role.

The former politicians who were appointed all insist they were motivated by the task itself. But Magyar must himself be aware that the appointments seem somewhat unbalanced. He claimed to have asked two former economics ministers who served under Viktor Orbán to serve. But, citing other engagements, both declined. Thus, the right has only provided one 'almost minister,' László Urbán, who was asked by Viktor Orbán to serve as finance minister in 1998, but later withdrew.

The appointees are dominated by figures from the banking world. Urbán is managing director of the National Bank of Hungary, and György Surányi has twice served as the Bank's president. András Simor is head of Deloitte and Touche in Hungary, but was formerly president of the Budapest Stock Exchange.He will serve on the management council of the Franz Liszt Conservatory.

hvg.hu English version

Minister Keeps Party Job

On February 14, the beginning of the sessions at Parliament, István Hiller will resign from his post as Culture Minister and will keep his seat as president of the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP).

hvg.hu English version

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