Press-Roundup: Media Reactions to the Ongoing Jobbik Campaign Financing Controversy
Tom Szigeti 2017.12.19.
As the Jobbik party stands accused of illicit campaign financing, columnists on Left and Right ponder the impact of its billboard-financing controversy on party politics and its electoral chances. Hungarian press round-up by budapost.eu.
On Friday, Pesti Srácok published two contracts between Jobbik and Lajos Simicska. According to the deal outlined in the contracts, the media mogul sold more than one thousand public billboards to the party at a discounted rate. Jobbik, which has grown in support in recent years as it has made efforts to leave its anti-Semitic, racist past behind, dismissed the accusations, and said that in addition to the fees in the published contracts, it pays additional sums specified in other agreements. On the same day, Jobbik published the report of the State Audit Office on the basis of which Jobbik was fined for illicit campaign financing. Late on Friday, around one thousand people joined the demonstration Jobbik organized to protest against the fine.
Magyar Idők’s Ottó Gajdics finds it absurd for ‘a party which violates the law’ to demonstrate in defence of democracy, and suggest that Hungary is soon to become a dictatorship. If Hungary was anything close to a dictatorship, the Jobbik party could hardly demonstrate in the streets, the pro-government commentator notes. He sees Jobbik’s cooperation with oligarch Lajos Simicska and its violation of campaign finance regulations as proof that Gábor Vona’s party has only one aim: to get into power at any price.
In Magyar Nemzet, Gyula Hegyi interprets the scandal around Jobbik as the end of parliamentary democracy. The left-wing analyst accuses Fidesz of threatening the most popular opposition party in order to send a clear message to all parties – if they cross a line and become serious challengers to Fidesz, the government will intervene to stop them.
The scandal may help Jobbik, after all, András Stumpf writes in his Heti Válasz article, published before the Friday Jobbik rally. The conservative columnist thinks that Jobbik might broaden its base if it proves successful in mobilizing the wider discontent. But if it can only call onto streets a thousand or two protesters, that would mean that the party is facing a deep crisis.
Index’s Szabolcs Dull also thinks that Jobbik could benefit from the conflict. In addition to mobilizing its base, the party can connect to left-wing voters by claiming to defend democracy, the liberal commentator believes. His party’s status as a victim of Fidesz could help Gábor Vona woo new supporters. It might also help to blame its probable defeat at the election next April on the uneven playing field.