As you know, I did not want to talk about the infamous Zuschlag case because I consider this man a pathological liar and a first-rate crook. But in light of new evidence, I changed my mind. It seems that János Zuschlag, a former socialist member of parliament, not only approached Fidesz and offered to write his “tell-all” book but was involved in other schemes as well.
Fidesz did everything to promote the forthcoming book and the dirt it contained. For instance, two well-known associates of Századvég, the think-tank with Fidesz roots, held a pre-publication interview with this crook in Napi Gazdaság, a publication recently purchased by Századvég. But Fidesz leaders should have been more circumspect. Zuschlag seems to be linked to a blossoming electoral fraud case involving bogus parties.
Let me explain. Zuschlag, it seems, wasn’t satisfied with profiting from book sales and the advance he most likely received from Fidesz. Since he is a born crook, he noticed sometime last year that there was an opportunity to get millions thanks to the Fidesz electoral law that allows newly created parties to compete in the forthcoming election. The law naturally was written with a view to weakening the opposition by taking votes away from the bona fide opposition parties.
Zuschlag has a long history of shady affairs. Already during his career in MSZP. In 2002-2203 Zuschlag was caught “enlarging” the county cells of MSZP and its youth organization, the Fiatal Baloldal–Ifjú Szocialisták (FIBISZ). He filled the county cells with bogus members. He started with his own district in Kiskunhalas and also enlisted like-minded friends in Vas County, near the Austrian border. When the MSZP leadership discovered the fraudulently enlarged cells, they closed them. One person who was involved in this fraud in Vas County was Péter Táncsics, whose real passion in life is to play cards.
Investigative journalists now suspect that the two most suspicious “business parties,” Új Dimenzió and Új Magyarország, are connected to János Zuschlag and Péter Táncsics. These two bogus parties are definitely linked to one another through the person of Péter Táncsics. Both parties are registered at Táncsics’s Kőszeg address. Originally Táncsics and his accomplices planned to organize three parties, but they had no luck with the third, Mindenki Pártja (Everybody’s Party). The other two parties, however, managed to get plenty of signatures, most of which are fraudulent. It is also clear that these two “parties” exchanged signatures and as a result they collected the necessary number of endorsements even before Fidesz did. Most importantly, these two “business parties” will receive 1.2 billion forints from taxpayer money.
The Fidesz leadership must have known about Zuschlag’s involvement with these “business parties” since Heti Válasz reported on it in its February 28 issue. But in that case why did they decide to promote Zuschlag’s book in Napi Gazdaság? Did they hope to accuse MSZP of being engaged in electoral fraud? That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. To my mind Zuschlag’s involvement with these two new parties only shows that he is a first-rate crook and that most likely his “confessions” are a pack of lies. And that certainly doesn’t reflect well on Fidesz.
As for the pack of lies. Although I had no opportunity to read Zuschlag’s book, the few details I gleaned from reviews simply don’t add up. For those who are not familiar with the story, Zuschlag claims that he received 50 million forints from Ildikó Lendvai, leader of the MSZP parliamentary delegation, to “persuade” him not to run as an MSZP candidate in the 2006 election. Lendvai rightly pointed out that one didn’t have to pay anything to Zuschlag or anyone else not to run. Parties can simply withhold endorsements. Period.
Zuschlag in his book also claims that Ferenc Gyurcsány “earlier offered him money” to resign his seat after he cracked a tasteless joke about the victims of the Holocaust which was overheard by the crew of HírTV. I do believe that Gyurcsány wanted to get rid of him, but much earlier than the 2004 incident that resulted in Zuschlag’s resignation. Gyurcsány, who headed the Ministry of Youth and Sports between May 2003 and September 2004, had a very low opinion of his undersecretary whom he inherited from his predecessor, György Jánosi (MSZP). Why didn’t he get rid of Zuschlag? I can only guess: most likely because Zuschlag had some patrons within the party who argued that he was an important asset in attracting young members to the party.
What is Fidesz doing with Zuschlag? It is hard to fathom. Perhaps someone was asleep at the switch. I don’t know. We always think that Fidesz’s communication and political strategy is faultless, but perhaps here Zuschlag got the better of them.