Hungarian opposition demands end to "corrupt" state land sales

By bne IntelliNews March 29, 2016

The small Hungarian opposition party Egyutt organised a demonstration ahead of an auction for state land on March 29. The party claims the state land sales programme, launched late last year, is being used to open access to state loans and land to those close to the ruling Fidesz party. 

The government launched the privatisation programme in November, with stated aim of giving local farmers the opportunity to buy land. However, the scheme has been widely criticized, with government opponents claiming as much as 40,000 hectares have been sold to people close to Fidesz. The opposition Socialist Party has labelled the programme “legalized theft” and proposed a referendum aimed at halting the programme.

The government auctioned 61% of the 197,000 hectares it made available put up for sale during the first tranche of the scheme, which  concluded at the end of 2015, generating revenue of HUF171bn (€543.9mn). However, no aggregated data base of the auction results is yet available.

Small opposition party LMP said in January that it has calculated that small- and medium-sized famers ended up with around 20% of the land sold. The majority acquired less than 5 hectares each, the party claims. On the other hand, Fidesz politicians and connections purchased some 30% of the land sold, LMP claims, generally in lots exceeding 100 hectares.

A further 30% of the land purchases were made by former directors of agricultural cooperatives and concerns, LMP claims. The remaining 20% was split between foreign buyers and "speculators," the party says.

The family of Lorinc Meszaros, mayor of the Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s hometown purchased 1,391 hectares under the first tranche auctions. The family of Orban’s son-in-law, Istvan Tiborcz, acquired 299 hectares, according to the minutes of the auctions available on the National Ground Management Organization’s website. Although each farmer can only buy 300 hectares of land in total, there is no restriction on relatives or business partners buying also and then uniting them under one operation.

The Hungarian Development Bank offers preferential credit to farmers buying land under the programme. Thus far, it has provided HUF120bn, according to Janos Lazar, head of the Prime Minister’s Office on January 14. Eligible for substantial European Union subsidies under the bloc’s common agricultural policy, the parcels could also bring considerable extra value if they are reclassified as development land, writes Magyar Nemzet.

The government announced a second tranche of sales the same day. In auctions held on March 1-15, Tiborcz and his family paid HUF217mn for 193 hectares while Lorinc Meszaros picked up 77.7 hectares for HUF49mn. He bought an additional 35 hectares for HUF44.4mn on March 29.

The auction that day attracted more media attention than usual as it was selling a farm in Fejer county, West Hungary, in the immediate vicinity of a 13-hectare land that allegedly belongs to Orban himself. Officially owned by the PM’s father, and rented by Meszaros, the PM’s dog officially resides at the farm, local media reports. The territory has not been disclosed in the PM’s wealth declaration. Egyutt's Juhasz Peter called on authorities on March 7 to open an investigation into the enrichment of the Orban family.


Related Articles

Hungary's government denies bowing to far-right opposition as it scraps residency bond scheme

Hungary will scrap its residency bond programme, the powerful head of the prime minister’s office announced on October 27, insisting at the same time the move is not connected with an ultimatum ... more

Non-performing loans in Central and Southeast Europe fell 6.5% y/y in 2015

Levels of non-performing loans (NPLs) in Central and Southeast Europe (CE/SEE) continued to decline in 2015 but still remain worryingly high, ... more

Hungarian rate setters hint at return to benchmark easing

In a bid to increase the bank system’s liquidity and ease monetary conditions further, Hungarian rate setters reduced the overnight lending rate and lowered the required reserve ratio for ... more

Register here to continue reading this article and 2 more for free or 12 months full access inc. Magazine and Weekly Newspaper for just $119/year.

If you have already registered, enter the information below with the same email you used previously and you will be granted immediate access.

IntelliNews Pro subscribers click here

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address. A confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

Thank you for purchasing a bne IntelliNews subscription. We look forward to serving you as one of our paid subscribers. An email confirmation will be sent to the email address you have provided.

To continue viewing our content you need to complete the registration process.

Please look for an email that was sent to with the subject line "Confirmation bne IntelliNews access". This email will have instructions on how to complete registration process. Please check in your "Junk" folder in case this communication was misdirected in your email system.

If you have any questions please contact us at

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and magazine

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and monthly magazine, the leading source of business, economic and financial news and commentary in emerging markets.

Your subscription includes:
  • Full access to the bne content daily news and features on the website
  • Newsletters direct to your mailbox
  • Print and digital subscription to the monthly bne magazine
  • Digital subscription to the weekly bne newspaper

IntelliNews Pro subscribers click here

bne IntelliNews
$119 per year

All prices are in US dollars net of applicable taxes.

If you have any questions please contact us at

Register for free to read bne IntelliNews Magazine. You'll receive a free digital subscription.

If you have already registered, enter the information below with the same email you used previously and you will be granted immediate access.

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address. The confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

IntelliNews Pro offers daily news updates delivered to your inbox and in-depth data reports.
Get the emerging markets newswire that financial professionals trust.

"No day starts for my team without IntelliNews Pro" — UBS

Thank-you for requesting an IntelliNews Pro trial. Our team will be in contact with you shortly.