picture of people protesting

The Curia, Hungary’s High Court, validated referendum questions on Wednesday that had been submitted in July by Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony on Fudan University and the extension of a benefit for job seekers. The Curia upheld a previous ruling from the National Election Commission (NVB) at the end of August, which permitted two of Karácsony’s original five referendum questions.

The questions approved by the Curia are:

Do you agree that the maximum period for the payment of unemployment benefits should be 270 days?

Do you agree that the National Assembly should repeal Act LXXXI of 2021 on the Fudan Hungary University Foundation regarding the transfer of assets to the Fudan Hungary University Foundation?

NVB’s approval of the questions, however, were challenged in September by MP János Volner, who typically votes with the governing parties on all important matters despite being a nominally independent Member of Parliament.

In his submission, Volner referred to the lack of clarity on the question and maintaining obligations to international agreements, but the Curia rejected these appeals and upheld the decision of the National Electoral Commission in its Wednesday decision.

In April, a draft leaked in which the government had estimated the cost of building a Hungarian campus of the Chinese Fudan University at 540 billion Ft. (US $1.67 billion), with construction to be carried out primarily with Chinese raw materials, using Chinese labor, and through a Chinese-provided loan that Hungary would have to pay for.

Following the Curia’s decision on Wednesday, Gergely Karácsony wrote that “collecting signatures can start in a few days,” adding that he hoped to get 200,000 signatures this year.

This is an excellent opportunity for the opposition to get back on the streets and show its strength together, as we saw during the primary elections. It will be a test for us to be able to collect these signatures this year, but not impossible

-wrote Karácsony.

The mayor mentioned over a week ago that the Budapest City Council would not veto the 2023 World Athletics Championships over the Fudan University issue, as the two conditions to avoid the veto had been met. In addition, Mayor Karácsony believes the government and the Chinese have long given up on establishing a campus of the Chinese university in Hungary.

[444][Photo: Hungarians protesting the establishment of a Fudan University campus in Budapest, June 2021]

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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.