Fact Check: Fidesz Party Is NOT Moving To Abolish Private Ownership With New Real-Estate Registration Law


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Fact Check: Fidesz Party Is NOT Moving To Abolish Private Ownership With New Real-Estate Registration Law Legal Jargon

Is Hungary's governing Fidesz party moving to abolish private property ownership with its new law on real estate registration? No, that's not true: The claim is based on a minor semantic change to the current rules governing property records. The new law, which will digitize Hungary's cumbersome paper-based system of registering deeds, does not contain any language about eliminating individual ownership.

The claim appeared in a Hungarian-language video (archived here) on TikTok on December 20, 2023, under a caption and banner that read "This is how Fidesz is taking away your ownership rights! They're plundering us!" (Translation from Hungarian to English by Lead Stories staff). It shows a clip of Fidesz Member of Parliament László Vécsey delivering an address (archived here) on the chamber floor on December 13, 2021, saying, as translated by Lead Stories staff):

The new Real Estate Registration Act employs different terminology, which will also require amendments to several relevant sectoral laws. After the new provisions enter into force, for example, the distinction between 'registration of rights,' 'recording of fact' and 'transfer of data' will cease to exist, and the unitary term will be 'registration,' whether we're talking about rights, facts or data.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

hungary real estate.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Fri Dec 22 13:30:28 2023 UTC)

The Law on Real Estate Registration (archived here) was passed on June 28, 2021, and is set to take effect on October 1, 2024. In a document (archived here) explaining the law's rationale, the government said, as translated from Hungarian to English by Lead Stories staff:

It has been more than 20 years since Act CXLI of 1997 on real-estate registration went into force, and significant social and economic changes have taken place that place new demands on legal regulation and electronic administration. For this reason, the Government decided to implement [a project] whose goal is to transform the real-estate registry into an electronic database, to make real estate-registry procedures fully electronic, thereby reducing the turnaround time and the cost levels of procedures related to land, which will also lower the administrative burden on public administration.

Page 51 of the legislation states, as translated:

The law does not differentiate between rights, facts and data with respect to transfers in the real estate register: the change will be carried out by registration, regardless of whether it relates to rights, facts or data. In this way, the wording of the legislation becomes simpler and more comprehensible, facilitating the law's application.

Vécsey commented (archived here) on the new terminology in his role as vice-president of the parliamentary Committee on Legislative Enactment (Törvényalkotási Bizottság), which is responsible for "ensuring coherence" among legal texts, according to the committee's website. The full text of Vécsey's speech makes it clear that he was discussing a separate bill (archived here) to harmonize the phrasing of all statutes dealing with real-estate registration.

Nothing indicates that Vécsey is plotting a mass property grab by the government. Indeed, the new Law on Real Estate Registration mentions the word "tulajdonos" ("owner") 29 times.

As comments on the TikTok video show, the claim is an iteration of the New World Order conspiracy theory, which "posits that a cabal of elites is working behind the scenes to orchestrate global events to enslave the global populace," according to Myles Flores of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. It also ties in with the Great Reset conspiracy theory, which argues that global elites are plotting to eliminate private ownership.

Other Lead Stories fact checks on claims that Hungary's government is planning to strip away property rights can be found here.


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