Hungary’s criminal code contains the provisions by which legal responsibility can be established over amassing public debt in the past, if clear evidence is provided, deputy prime minister Tibor Navracsics said on Wednesday.
Talking to a programme on commercial Hir TV, Navracsics said legal consultants have stated that no law amendments will be necessary to establish responsibility and seek criminal prosecution against former prime ministers “for plunging Hungary into debt.”
He said it was not unprecedented in Europe that procedures are launched over mishandling of public funds or acting against budgetary discipline. He added that if charges concerned a public offence, parliament usually decides to remove the suspect’s political immunity.
He said charges can be raised even in cases when someone, “had seen the consequences of his actions but had carelessly hoped they would go away.”
A committee set up at the initiative of the Fidesz government to look into why public debt grew between 2002 and 2010, when Socialist and liberal governments were in power, has raised the issue of criminal responsibility. Opposition Socialist and green opposition LMP party delegates have boycotted the committee’s work and called the idea “nonsense” and “political persecution”.
Fidesz has accused former prime ministers Peter Medgyessy, Ferenc Gyurcsany and Gordon Bajnai of pushing public debt up from 53 to 80 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2010.
Addressing the committee in June, former Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany had insisted that the first Fidesz government and the two consecutive Socialist governments shared responsibility for high debt. He said Hungary’s public debt had increased by an overall 1,900 billion forints (EUR 7.1bn) before Bajnai took over as prime minister.