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The vote against the pro-government presidential candidate on the MTA panel is celebrated as a victory for democracy

The vote against the pro-government presidential candidate on the MTA panel is celebrated as a victory for democracy

This week, Tibor Toth was elected Chairman of the Scientific Committee on Soil, Water Management and Crop Production of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) against the Rector of the Hungarian University of Life and Agricultural Sciences (MATE), Csásápa Gyórcza.

Few people know this news, but it carries weight in professional circles:

They test it in such a way that instead of power politics invading almost every corner of science, democracy has decided here, and only scientific performance has been weighed.

The ambitious university president

Csaba Gjurcza has been close to Orbán’s government for a long time, and after the red clay disaster in Agca, he was given the leadership of a government union, and since 2011 he has also become an advisor to the Ministry of the Interior. Meanwhile, his university career progressed, and he became vice-dean and then dean of Szent Istvan University.

Since 2015, his relationship with government has become noticeably closer, when he was appointed to head the Office of Agriculture and Rural Development (MVH). This back office of the Ministry of Agriculture paid hundreds of billions in EU agricultural subsidies to Hungarian farmers every year. MVH was subsequently abolished by János Lazar, as head of the Prime Minister’s Office, because, according to him, it was not efficient and customer-friendly, there were an unreasonable number of people working there, and accusations of corruption arose.

With the termination of MVH, Gjurcza was also dismissed, but he fell into a vulnerable position because since 2017 he had been acting director and then director of the newly formed National Center for Agricultural Research and Innovation (NAIK). He did not rule here for long either, because as of August 2020 he became the rector of MATE, a university group that the government turned into a public interest trust. There were also rumors of Gyocza’s ambition that he wanted to become Minister of Agriculture.

Csaba Gyorcza, Dean of the Hungarian University of Life and Agricultural Sciences – Photo: Zoltán Máthé / MTI

Gyuricza, who often appears in the media promoting smarter use of natural resources and greener solutions (Who had just given a lecture on plowing the other day) Of course he is also involved in scientific activities, has several publications mainly related to tillage systems, and since 2015 he has become a doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, but according to his critics, his results are not really important. Meanwhile, since becoming rector, he seems to be publishing more again – said our source who closely follows the field of science.

According to MATE, Csaba Gyuricza has been an elected member of the committee for 15 years, has been re-elected five times out of hundreds of general body members, and at 50 years old remains one of the youngest members of the committee.

The triumph of scientific democracy

The Committee on Soil, Water Management and Crop Production of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has been chaired by László Kálmán Rajkay until now, but since his term expired, a new president had to be elected. The position of committee chair does not bring financial benefits, but it can open the door to the academy, which actually means a higher academic degree.

According to our preliminary information, Gyurcza, who does not often attend committee meetings, was the only person nominated for this position. Usually he gets every position he applies for publicly, but suddenly another candidate appears at the inaugural meeting: Tibor Toth, already retired, also promoted from membership.

Initially, several people tried to scrutinize Toth’s nomination, claiming that he came from a scientific field in which he could not serve as president, but the Academy had no such rule, so he was eventually nominated for president. 32 people were able to participate in the secret online voting that lasted from Thursday to Monday, and in the end Tibor Toth won by a large margin.

“It was a very strong position. It decided on scientific democracy, where it is not the position of power or the bulldozer-like process that matters. There is not much room left for Hungarian science today, where democratic rules are still effective, but this was the case. Scientific performance decided between Candidates, Giorcza’s scientific work is very weak.“This was probably his first competition of this kind, where it was important,” said our source, who followed the events closely but asked to remain anonymous.

When I asked him if it was not possible for the majority of members to have taken a position against Gjurcza’s leadership, he replied that it was possible to reject that as well, but in his opinion the scientific aspects were stronger. This reading can also be strengthened by the fact that the majority of committee members do not have a subordinate relationship with Gyurcza, since they do not work in institutions affiliated with MATE, so they can make the decision impartially.

There is nothing to see here, the retired president has more time

We also asked Csaba Giorcza about the result of the presidential elections and the interpretation we heard about it. “By the deadline for nominations, two nominations for the position of president had been received, but there is nothing surprising in this, as in hundreds of committees of the 11 departments of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, nominations and then elections are carried out in the same way,” the MATE media center wrote, in response to the About the university president.

He wrote about the result that since the establishment of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, there had been hundreds of examples of the opposing candidate receiving more votes, so of course the rector expected that he would lose.

When asked about the important aspects of selection, MATE replied: “In the case of the rector, in addition to active and distinguished academic work, they also relied on teaching, public life and administrative tasks, while

In the case of the opposing candidate, they were not present, because as a retiring president he could devote more time and more attention to the work of the committee.

In this work, as before, the Committee and its elected Chair can count on the full support of the University President.”

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