Published: December 07 2023
Recent developments in the Hungarian political landscape have revealed a significant fine imposed on opposition parties in Budapest for foreign election funding. This blog post will provide an overview of the situation and its implications for the parties involved.
The Fine and Election Campaign Financing Scandal
The State Audit Office of Hungary (ÁSZ) has fined the left-wing parties of last year's electoral coalition a total of HUF 500 million (EUR 1.3 million). The penalty is a result of the investigation into the 2022 election campaign financing scandal, where a portion of the examined foreign funding was deemed illegal. The entire amount will need to be paid as a penalty, which will be divided equally among the six parties of the coalition.
Impact on Party Subsidies
In such cases, the ÁSZ and the Treasury withhold an amount equal to the fine from the state subsidies due to the party affected, effectively doubling the actual fine. This measure underscores the seriousness of the violation and serves as a deterrent for future misconduct.
Investigation and Potential Further Penalties
The ÁSZ's investigation found that one of the associations involved in the election campaign spent nearly HUF 1.7 billion, with the money primarily coming from abroad and benefiting left-wing parties. The partial report revealed that several parties in the coalition disregarded the practice of not accepting foreign funds for election campaigns, thus circumventing the law in financing their coalition. If proven guilty, the six parties could face additional fines amounting to HUF 3.2 billion (EUR 9 million) for illegal foreign funding.
Calls for Transparency and Future Measures
The revelation of this significant foreign funding scandal has prompted calls for increased transparency in election funding. To address this issue and prevent future interference, the Hungarian government plans to introduce a new bill aimed at enhancing the transparency of election funding. Additionally, an Office for the Protection of Sovereignty will be established to safeguard the integrity of the electoral process.
By taking these steps, the Hungarian government aims to ensure fair and transparent elections, free from foreign interference and illicit financing practices.
Questions & Answers
What is the fine imposed on the left-wing parties in Budapest for? The State Audit Office of Hungary has imposed a HUF 500 million (EUR 1.3 million) fine on the left-wing parties of the electoral coalition for their involvement in a 2022 election campaign financing scandal.
Why were the left-wing parties fined for election financing in Budapest? The left-wing parties received HUF 260 million (EUR 700,000) of illegal foreign funding during the election campaign, which led to the imposition of the fine.
How will the fine be divided among the parties in Budapest? The HUF 500 million fine will be divided equally between the six parties of the electoral coalition in Budapest.
What happens to the state subsidies due to the party concerned when a fine is imposed? In such cases, the State Audit Office and the Treasury withhold an amount equal to the fine from the state subsidies due to the party concerned, effectively doubling the actual fine.
What is the potential total fine for the six parties involved in the election coalition in Budapest? If proven guilty, the six parties implicated in the election coalition could face a total fine of HUF 3.2 billion (EUR 9 million) for illegal foreign funding.
Who investigated the election campaign financing in Budapest? The investigation into the election campaign financing was conducted by the State Audit Office of Hungary.
Which parties were found to have accepted foreign funds for election campaigns in Budapest? The audit body found that the Democratic Coalition (DK), Jobbik, Momentum, MSZP, LMP, and Dialogue ignored the practice of not accepting foreign funds for election campaigns and circumvented the law in financing their coalition.
Which organization donated a significant amount of money to left-wing parties in Budapest? Action for Democracy, an American group led by former associate of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, Dávid Korányi, donated over 1.8 billion forints to left-wing parties in Budapest.
What other donor besides Action for Democracy contributed to left-wing parties in Budapest? Besides Action for Democracy, a Swiss foundation also transferred almost one billion forints (EUR 2.6 million) to left-wing parties in several installments between September 2021 and February 2022.
Are there ongoing investigations related to election financing in Budapest? Yes, the tax authority (NAV) is investigating Gergely Karácsony's association, the 99 Movement, for foreign funds, suspicion of budget fraud, money laundering, and the use of forged private documents following a complaint by OTP Bank.
What measures is the Hungarian government taking to prevent future foreign funding scandals? The Hungarian government is introducing a new bill to increase the transparency of election funding and establishing an Office for the Protection of Sovereignty to prevent foreign funding scandals and election interference.