picture of Budapest City Hall

The Budapest City Council voted on Tuesday to set up a special committee to investigate the issues surrounding the so-called City Hall affair. The head of the seven-member committee will be Fidesz district mayor Péter Kovács, who will serve with Zsolt Láng and Gábor Bagdy, also from the ruling government party, as well as Momentum’s Tamás Soproni as deputy chair, and Csaba Horváth (MSZP), Sándor Szaniszló (DK), and Márta V. Naszályi (Párbeszéd) as the remaining members of the group.

Before the start of the day’s agenda, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony said that the government was trying to stifle local municipalities and the capital, before turning to the allegations about the sale of City Hall. As he had stated multiple times in the past, Karácsony said that the capital had discussed the future of City Hall at the end of last year, but then unambiguously ruled out any possibility of offering it for sale.

The mayor also repeated his belief that Russian intelligence services were behind the leaking of audio recordings that supposedly concerned discussions around the sale of the 150-year-old building. Karácsony said that he is open to any investigation into the matter, as he had nothing to hide and all decisions and materials about these decisions have been made public.

Zsolt Láng, the leader of the Fidesz caucus in the City Council, said that three weeks had passed since the first reported news in news portal Index of the sale of City Hall, which he says has become the biggest scandal in Hungarian politics. Láng added that Gergely Karácsony may try to alarm them with talk of the Russian intelligence services, aliens, or people from Mars, but his words aren’t credible after contradicting himself so many times.

In reply, the mayor said he supported Zsolt Láng’s proposal to set up a committee to investigate the issue, and put it on the meeting agenda. The proposal to set up a committee of inquiry was then unanimously supported by the assembly at Tuesday’s meeting.

[Telex]

By Steven N.

Steven is the editor-in-chief of Hungarian Politics. He has been following the political scene in Hungary and the Central European region more or less since 1994.