Bernadett Szél barred from giving lecture at Budapest’s Corvinus University

November 10, 2017

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Politics Can Be Different (LMP) prime ministerial candidate Bernadett Szél was barred from giving a lecture at Budpest’s Corvinus University, reports index.hu.

Szél was invited by the student organization Economists in Public Policy (KDSZ) to share her party’s public policy vision for public health-care, education and the national economy.

The event would have been held on November 21 had the university’s leadership not cancelled it. Index.hu contacted the Directorate of Communications of Corvinus, which confirmed that the university had barred Szél’s event.

The Directorate of Communications argued that “the university is committed to the values of university autonomy, freedom of speech and dialogue,” and would always give home to scientific and public policy debates. According to the directorate, Szél’s lecture would not have fit into either of these categories.

“So far, we have not provided a place for public campaign events with a party political interest, and will not do so hereafter,” said the university spokesman. Over the years many politicians have been welcomed by the university.  In 2015 for example, Budapest Mayor István Tarlós was allowed to speak and take questions on any topic.

Corvinus also hosted the debate between Momentum Movement chair András Fekete-Győr and Balázs Fürjes, the government commissioner responsible for the Olympics about holding Olympics in Budapest, during which the withdrawal of the Hungarian application for the 2024 Games was announced.

The university also hosted two prime ministerial debates, although it was called Budapest University of Economics at the time. One, in 1998, was between Socialist (MSZP) Prime Minister Gyula Horn and a young Viktor Orbán. Then in 2002, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán debated with his MSZP challenger Péter Medgyessy.

Rector of Corvinus University András Lánczi was appointed in April 2016. Previously Lánczi was president of the board of the Fidesz-tied think-tank Századvég Foundation. At the time of the pro-Central European University protests, Lánczi sent a letter to university employees in which he warned them to “refrain yourselves from showing your worldview and political preferences”.