Budapest, June 3 (MTI) – NGOs in Hungary have turned to lawmakers with a call to reform campaign finance rules and to clean up corruption.
The civil organisations Transparency International Magyarorszag, Atlatszo and K-Monitor together with think-tank Political Capital sent an open letter to parliamentarians to coincide with a conference held on Wednesday on transparency in local government and campaign finance.
Robert Laszlo, a Political Capital analyst, told a news conference the rules should be changed before the 2018 general election to ensure there are no “bogus parties” or misuse of public funds. He added that political parties should account for the public funds allocated to them as strictly as individual constituency candidates who receive central government support. The accounting of political parties and individual candidates should be published on the internet, he said.
It is theoretically not a problem that the central budget supports campaign financing but it is problematic that parties are not made to account for the money they use. They most probably “pocket it”, he added.
The appearance of bogus parties is another problem, with 14 mini-parties submitting national lists at last year’s general election and 12 of these did not even receive as many votes as the number of recommendations they had collected for their party lists, Laszlo said. Yet they received a combined 3.4 billion forints (EUR 11m) support from the central budget and they were not expected to give an account of how they spent this, he added.
Legal director of Transparency International Magyarorszag Miklos Ligeti said the laws do not guarantee transparent campaign financing, do not hinder non-party campaigning and encourage “parties set up for business” to pump out public monies from the budget.
Calculations by the civil campaign monitor show that despite the around 1 billion forint threshold on campaign financing in force last year, all the parties that made it to parliament, except LMP, overspent this amount. The ruling Fidesz and Christian Democrats alliance spent four times more than allowed, he added.
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