Typically, politicians’ fall due to sex scandals happen during election campaigns, but there have been examples of Hungarian diplomats set up by a foreign state. As a response to the latest Szájer scandal, let us take a look at the wide range of similar sex scandals over the past years in Hungary. In the 1990s, the private life of politicians was a taboo, but since the second half of the 2000s, similar stories come by the dozen.
According to Hvg, the fact that the organiser of the sex party in Brussels makes contradictory statements while dirtying the Hungarians and the Poles suggests that there is a political interest behind the scandal, but even if there was not, the events are not independent of politics, nor just a private matter.
It is characteristic of sex scandals that occur in politics to be deliberately timed;
the tape leading to the fall of the mayor of Győr, Zsolt Borkai, was made long before the 2019 municipal election campaign. It was later found out, that at first, the recordings were used for blackmail, but then they were used for political power-play.
Also last year, the sex scandal of the mayor of Budaörs was a huge hit. It seems that Tamás Wittinghoff was set up by a prostitute using a tape that turns out to have been used for blackmailing. Still, during the campaign, flyers were thrown into civilian mailboxes in Budaörs with a link to the porn site where the footage was uploaded to.
After the municipal election, in December 2019, the spokesperson of DK, Zsolt Gréczy, was the one to get into trouble. Allegations of harassment appeared in the pro-government press, and intimate photographs that he took of himself were posted on the internet. Although the court ordered the media reporting the alleged harassment to be rectified, Gréczy had long since resigned from his parliamentary mandate because of the publicly indecent photographs.
It is not unprecedented for a state to use a sex affair as an international power-play.
In 2011, one of the diplomats of the Hungarian embassy in Minsk, Zoltán B., was ordered home by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after a sex tape was posted on the Internet of him and a woman. It soon became clear that the Hungarian diplomat had fallen into the trap of the Belarusian secret service. According to the story, the woman’s relative took revenge on the diplomat because, according to him, Zoltán B., who was already married, had affairs with several women at the same time.
The suspicion was also reinforced when, shortly after, the Belarusians also targeted the wife of the Hungarian ambassador, disclosing a telephone conversation. In the conversation, an Italian man and a woman with a strong accent talk about meetings and sex. The Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Belarusian ambassador accredited to Budapest and described the events as a “serious and distasteful provocation”. The timing of the Belarusian action was no accident. At that time, it was the task of Hungary’s diplomacy to monitor, in addition to EU affairs, the extent to which EU human rights expectations were being met in Belarus. Apparently, Minsk did not like that very much.
Similar games exist in Hungarian domestic politics as well.
In the summer of 2010, for example, a tape of the then captain of the Hungarian National Guard Movement, Róbert Kiss, where he kissed a woman who was not his wife was made public. The scandal was Kiss’s undoing, and he resigned. It cannot be ruled out that a Hungarian secret service was involved, as the disintegration of the quasi-military organisation was beneficial to the then National Security Office.
The secret service was involved in another memorable scandal that became known as Mucuska-gate. In 2015, a Romanian couple named Szatmári were possibly associated with Romanian intelligence. The woman and the man were allegedly integrated into Hungarian government agencies, and the woman was said to have had an intimate relationship with several members of the Medgyessy and Gyurcsány governments. The secret service employee shed light to the story, later ended up at UD Vagyonvédelmi Zrt., which was said to be a “private secret service” connected to Fidesz.
After the change of regime, the sexual affairs of politicians in Hungary were taboo, the first break of this taboo did not happen until the 2000s.
Lajos Kósa from Fidesz was first involved in such a scandal back in 2002 when Blikk wrote that the police had caught him with a prostitute. The news turned out to be fake, and the paper had to pay millions of forints in damages.
In 2005, the former lover of MSZP’s László Kovács told a tabloid about their affair. The then 40 Éva Endrényi said that she had an intimate relationship with Kovács since 2000, and when the politician was appointed Taxation and Customs Commissioner, she followed him to Brussels and accompanied him to several meetings. In May 2003, Endrényi was introduced to the politician’s negotiation partners as his wife. The woman even had an EU parliamentary ticket in Brussels. Kovács acknowledged the relationship, but he said it was a private matter that belonged only to him and his family.
In February 2010, Blikk released a picture taken by someone in downtown Macau. The photo was taken of János Veres from the MSZP, who was working as a government commissioner for Eastern relations at the time. He was walking with the head of the secretariat, Alexandra Dobolyi, even though he was married to another woman. Veres has since divorced and married Dobolyi.
About the former president of Jobbik, Gábor Vona, his wife wrote in a book in 2018 that her husband had cheated on her once. The former vice-president of Jobbik, János Volner, did not get away with a scandal either, as, during their 2014 electoral campaign, a photo was published about him in a bush with a woman who was not his wife.