Hungary has been steadily becoming more corrupt

Here we go again. Transparency International’s (TI) 2016 report has been published and, as usual, the message to the Hungarian government was not complimentary. Hungary’s rating dropped under the psychological level of 50, coming in at 48 points. Of the 28 member states of the European Union, Hungary is one of the five most corrupt. Hungary is tied with Romania. But while the Romanians’ efforts to curb corruption have propelled the country to increasingly better scores since 2013, Hungary’s numbers have been declining since 2012, when its score was 55. Admittedly, corruption in Italy, Greece, and Bulgaria are even greater than in Hungary, but surely that is no reason to rejoice, especially since outside of Europe Hungary is in the company of countries like Jordan, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Montenegro, and Oman. The most detailed analysis of the part of the report that concerns Hungary was published in napi.hu.

In the introduction to the report, the editors emphasized that “this year’s results highlight the connection between corruption and inequality, which feed off each other to create a vicious circle between corruption, unequal distribution of power in society, and unequal distribution of wealth.” They further stressed that “the interplay of corruption and inequality also feeds populism. When traditional politicians fail to tackle corruption, people grow cynical. Increasingly, people are turning to populist leaders who promise to break the cycle of corruption and privilege. Yet this is likely to exacerbate—rather than resolve—the tensions that fed the populist surge in the first place.” In the wake of Donald Trump’s victory, Transparency International published a detailed analysis of “Corruption and Inequality: How Populists Mislead People.”

The reason that I called attention to TI’s emphasis on populists who after acquiring power become themselves beneficiaries of corruption is because it seems that the Orbán government has taken TI’s severe criticism of populist duplicity as proof of its disapproval of their own system. At least this is what I sense from reading Magyar Idők’s touchy reaction to TI’s references to populism and corruption. Clearly, the government was mighty upset over the direct references to Hungary and Turkey, where after the introduction of populist-led governments corruption grew substantially.

Magyar Idők tries to make light of the changes in Argentina where, according to the article, “after the fall of the populist government, miracle of miracles, thanks to the blissful activities of the new liberal leadership the corruption situation has improved.” I assume that no one who is familiar with the Hungarian government’s truthfulness will be surprised to learn that this is not at all what TI’s report said about the Argentine situation. TI reported: “Recently elected President Pauricio Macri said in his inauguration speech that he ‘will be implacable with corruption.’ He has made the fight against corruption a top priority for his administration. In order to fulfill this promise the new government must urgently implement laws and reforms to improve transparency, accountability, and oversight of public institutions.” A far cry from Magyar Idők’s version.

And while we are on the topic of the Orbán government’s fabrications, we might as well point out another falsehood in the very same article. According to Magyar Idők‘s headline, Transparency International is “Soros’s organization.” It is true that in the body of the article this claim becomes less categorical. There the paper describes TI as an organization that is “also supported by George Soros.” So, I became curious about the financial backers of TI. I can assure you that the list is very long. It begins with a large number of government agencies, like the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia, the German Foreign Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK), and the US Department of State. (I wonder how long Trump’s State Department will contribute to TI. I have the feeling not for long.) There are also several multilateral institutions that support TI, like the European Commission and several offices of the United Nations. Ten foundations support TI, among them–yes–Soros’s Open Society Institute Foundation and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa. In addition, five corporations, including Siemens, Shell, Ernst & Young, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, are contributors. So much for TI being Soros’s organization.

The Orbán government pretends that it doesn’t take TI’s report seriously. How can TI dare to pass judgment on Hungary year after year when they themselves, “as we learned from Szilárd Németh,” are afraid of transparency? How can anyone believe TI’s reports when “left-liberal leaders of the financial elite praise” the World Bank’s efforts at curbing corruption? “Is it possible that these people take part in discussions where Christine Lagarde, who narrowly escaped her scandalous corruption case, is also present?” Moreover, the article gleefully says, Zoltán Kovács, the government spokesman, was on target when he pointed out that Transparency International never bothered to unearth the rampant corruption that existed during the socialist-liberal governments prior to 2010.

Of course, Zoltán Kovács, as is his wont, didn’t tell the truth. Already in 2008 TI was talking about the growth of “institutionalized corruption in Hungary,” although at that point it considered “bribery more as a byproduct of democracy rather than its fundamental characteristic.” In fact, both Mihály Varga, minister of national economy today, and Viktor Orbán, then leader of the opposition, quoted the report of Transparency International as proof of the existence of rampant corruption in Hungary. Orbán learned from the report that “Hungary loses 200 billion forints every year due to the corruption that exists in public procurement cases.”

József Péter Martin, executive director of Transparency International Magyarország (TIM), called attention to the harmful effect of corruption on the national economy. He noted the significant overlap between the most competitive countries and the least corrupt countries. Similarly, corruption and reduced competitiveness are often correlated. Even as Hungarian corruption has increased, the country’s competitiveness has been sliding in the past few years. In 2001, Hungary was twenty-first on the list of the World Economic Forum. Today it occupies the sixty-ninth place.

But never mind, the Hungarian government has no incentive to clamp down on corruption, since its politicians and friends are the main culprits. The mafia state is doing well.

January 26, 2017
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Observer
Guest

Hungary has been steadily REVEALED to become more corrupt.
A more precise title as it Hun has been steadily 95+% corrupt over the last four years as far as the state activity and public procurement/projects are concerned.

State capture, grand corruption and the death of democracy = mafia state.

pappp
Guest

Totally OT.

As Népszava (the last remaining “leftist” daily) is seriously expecting Orban government advertisements (yes, this means subsidy from taxpayers’ money from a most corrupt government; it’s mutyi yet again) it’s worth retweeting Glenn Greenwald’s recent statement: “I really hope nobody is expecting actual #resistance from Democratic Party leaders. It’s going to have to come from elsewhere.” (After Dems overwhelmingly support Trump’s cabinet members etc.).

Resistance and change will never come from MSZP and the existing Hungarian Left (including Gergely Karacsony who basically came out supporting the insane Budapest Olympics due to an idiotic fear of alienating the rural voters who overwhelmingly support the idea). They are thoroughly corrupt and a part of the problem. They are also weak, very weak because they have no convictions. All they can do is to suck up to power which Fidesz would never have done in their stead. As a result this leftist bunch will continue to lose, although that’s OK for them too. Small money is money too.

Ferenc
Guest

Hey Joe,
Where you gonna run to now where you gonna go
Hey Rivarol
Where you gonna run to now where you gonna go
I’m goin’ way down south
Way down to Mexico way

bimbi
Guest

There is a detailed exposition of the Orban government’s involvement
in corruption – specifically through government legislation – in the Budapest Beacon:

http://budapestbeacon.com/civil-society/hungary-has-legalized-corruption-says-ti-legal-director-miklos-ligeti/44130

The article sets out how the Hungarian people (i.e, the state) has been set up for industrial-scale robbery by the Orban/Fidesz criminal clique.

Our thanks to Transparency International for setting it out for all to see.

Observer
Guest

Tax for the HBeacon article, spot on.

Love the “veneer of legality” term, spot on again – it is just a veneer. In many cases the corrupt laws are incompatible with other ones and with constitutional provisions. Any good lawyer will tear them to pieces in any normal court, and, most importantly, the corruption crimes committed Ina syndicate will be punished.

Ferenc
Guest

OT: Shadow World:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuwQlsTXYw8
“once you start a war, you open a kind of pandora’s box, you don’t control it, it controls you, and it propels you in directions you thought you’ll never go”
in the case of Hungary replace “war” with “corruption”

Istvan
Guest
TI is empirically proving Balint Magyar’s thesis in his study of Hungary’s Post Communist Mafia State. Let us recall that his study included an understanding of the evolutionary development of the Mafia State. I suppose TI’s analysis serves a purpose. But there is a new evolution that TI does not discuss and that is Hungary has become so corrupt that one of the chief architects of Fidesz corruption Lajos Simicska becomes a beacon of hope for some liberals because he now finds himself in opposition to Orban. Our evolution here in the USA with the rule of Trump actually is something like Balint Magyar’s theory of the evolution of the Mafia State on steroids. Every day we read a new story of how Trump’s company (that he still fully owns) is exploiting his enhanced brand for his own enrichment, the expansion of the Hotel chain to more US cities, increased initiation fees at his golf resort in Palm Beach, and promotions of Trump’s wife’s jewelry line on the White House website to name only a few of the examples. The US Department of State no longer has the right to criticize Hungary, or for that matter even Russia for their… Read more »
Guest

Istvan, it’s really crazy!

In less than a month Trump has managed to anger not only China and Mexico but also Canada, the UN and the EU – and especially Germany.

And his latest utterings seem to make clear that he doesn’t feel any obligations from treaties/agreements/pacts that the USA once signed. If he really intoduces new tariffs we might have an economic war – which the US can’t win imho, they depend too much on imports from other countries.

He now has almost the whole world against him – Britain might be with him (if they really see some advantage from cooperation with the USA which I doubt), Orbán etc don’t really count …

My idea would be for the UN to declare that they’re moving their headquarters from NYC to some better place …

webber
Guest

We will almost certainly have a trade war. The question now really is how many trade wars will Trump start?
If he does not start a real war, that at least will be something.

Istvan
Guest

As an intelligent person Webber you are well aware trade wars have often led to shooting wars, not always but often. If we are going to get into a shooting war I prefer it be with Mexico not China for the sake of the world, our track record in wars against Mexico are good as long as we avoid a prolonged occupation of Mexico. Our run in however with Francisco “Pancho” Villa did not work out too well we call it the “Punitive Expedition”, official histories of the U.S. Army (March 14, 1916, to February 7, 1917).

I expect to see many more Pancho Villa tshirts for sale in Chicago’s Mexican community called fittingly the little village.

webber
Guest

No chance of war with Mexico – none whatsoever. There is not a Mexican who would fight in it, nor an American who would relish it. It would be the “What For War?”.
I don’t believe China would go to war over trade, either.
Anyway, I guess the US actually lost every war it had with Mexico, unless you count those Texian scoundrels at the Alamo (you can’t count the skirmishes with the Spanish – everybody beat them).

comment image

I personally kind of “like” Pancho Villa. I like Geronimo and Quanah Parker quite a lot, too.

webber
Guest

Well, I guess I’m wrong! The United States certainly did win the Mexican-American War.
But lost to Pancho Villa and, I think, the War on Drugs. Best leave Mexico to the Mexicans, I guess.

Istvan
Guest

Yes Webber the USA would not have Arizona, New Mexico, and California if not for the Mexican American War and what we in the USA call the Mexican Cession of 1848. We took a total of 2,567,111 square kilometers (almost one million square miles) of land from Mexico in wars against Mexico. Many of the American field commanders who participated in the invasion of Mexico in 1848 supported total annexation.

Of course we keep US Army troops within close proximity of the border, Fort Bliss the home of 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment is one example of several military bases. This article discusses their history http://www.archaeologysouthwest.org/pdf/scvnha/chapter04_j.pdf

aida
Guest

Gorbachev has predicted war as imminent. It is an intelligent guess. Unfortunately if it happens it is likely to be in Europe. The out of EU and politically isolated English in Europe may become an ever incepreasing irritant and later a nuisance. They are delusional about the so called special relationship with the US. The idea of a politically isolated England striving to improve its influence by cultivating a flirtation with the wild cat Trump is amusing at first sight. If Trump does not improve his manners the English flirtation will become an increasing irritant to a German lead Europe. One should not under rate the reservoir of English resentment of Germany which was neatly handled in the EU.
Not much scope at present for optimism. But above all have nothing to do with the will of the people nonsense.

webber
Guest

There already is a war in Europe. In Ukraine. People are being killed there every day.
Gorbachev might mean that Russia intends a full-scale invasion.

Istvan
Guest

True Webber there is an ongoing war of an asymmetrical nature ongoing in Ukraine. Rumors have it in the US media that Trump will rescind to sanctions against Russia, all Trump’s aides will say today is that it is under consideration. Its the end of my work day here in Chicago, I am getting a whisky on the rocks.

Guest

And another scathing report on Hungary – a “flawed democracy”:
Hungary is a free and democratic country, but has problems with certain aspects of democracy, particularly the level of political participation, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Democracy Index for 2016. The Democracy Index is a report published annually which ranks 167 countries according to their electoral processes, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political culture and political participation. Countries are scored in each category on a scale of 0 to 10. Based on their scores, the countries are placed into one of four types of regimes: full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes or authoritarian regimes.

In the 2016 report, Hungary is again classified as a flawed democracy, the category with the most—57— countries.
http://www.politics.hu/20170126/economist-intelligence-unit-hungary-democracy-with-flaws/
Part of that article is misleading – the DACH countries, Northern Europe and even Spain are still “Full democracy”.
https://infographics.economist.com/2017/DemocracyIndex/

Funnily enough (or not?) the USA lost out and is now again in the “Flawed democracy” group – as it was under the last Bush …

Istvan
Guest

Guess who enjoys the USA status as a flawed democracy, Russia Today see https://www.rt.com/usa/375063-us-flawed-democracy-eiu/ Putin should have a big banner put up over SVR Headquarters in the Yasenevo District of Moscow that reads Миссия выполнена (mission accomplished) and buy vodka for all the agents involved at least.

wrfree
Guest

You know we are going to see the progression of that observation which is full of consequence for the the US’ democratic future. Trumpian populism will be a bellwether for how flawed it really will get. His mantra of ‘the people’ guiding the country can come across as an erroneous perception of how ‘the people’ think and in how many voices they speak. Right now, I’d suggest we’re really hearing only the US’ ‘master’s voice’ as Trump interprets the accolades he is getting as he speaks for all ‘the people’.

And just waiting for some Russian ventriloquist comedian dressed up as Vlad (if they haven’t done already) to come out on stage with a Donny Dummy.
Arguably they would be onto something where Putin ‘speaks’ the lines he wants for our POTUS…😱

Member

To put a number on it: in 2015, about 0.06% of Transparency International’s income is from the Open Society Foundation (170k out of 28M). http://www.transparency.org/files/content/ouraccountability/TIS_2015FinancialStatements_rev2.pdf

wrfree
Guest

Re: corruption at the top

And as a result the effluvia rages on downhill. Amazes me how ‘the top’ look at themselves in the mirror when they get up everyday. Well at least one part of the economy works and those in power must be very happy with those well made mirrors. They have done very very well in making sure they never crack as a result of their gazes.

FreeWheeling
Guest
I’ve spoken with an executive whose job it is to negotiate Hungarian government awarded contracts with the private sector. This person has been doing this for years and disclosed that when they were in power, the Socialists would negotiate contracts so that they would get kickbacks of 25 to 30 percent, maybe more depending on the scope of the project. Nowadays OV’s team wants far more than double than Szocis got in kickbacks. Plus they may want extras, like some of their lackeys of their team being hired on as management or their friends as sub-contractors. (Rogan’s claiming that he co-invented a new technology that is now mandated by the gov’t to be used by the private sector is a new wrinkle on this – reminds me of crooked recording studio owners who would fully leverage their power to get a song writing credit for recording artists even though they were tone-deaf back in the early part of rock n’roll) Also, when this is arranged they do it in a well-known gov’t building that has very thick concrete walls and they have security confiscate all devices so that there is no way to record these arrangements. Their greed is staggering!
Ferenc
Guest

The mentioned kick-backs seem very (too) high to me, in the light of getting such amounts out of the official system, without getting any legal troubles nor suspicions, but your source seems to know what he’s speaking about.
Could he give examples how the kick-backs are/were done? Did he have direct experience with the kick-backs, or only very strong suspicions?
I understand his living depends on his job and because of his job he knows more. Coming into the open with evidence of what he told you, surely will bring him trouble (coming from many directions!), but even then, when does he want to put everything at stake, by becoming a whistleblower?
If doing so, from who/what/where can he expect protection?

FreeWheeling
Guest

The person was with a well-known company that I could verify as they worked had also worked on a project with a close friend. What I couldn’t believe was the figures. I also thought the percentages were exaggerated, but I didn’t get into the details on what percentages were based on within the account process. However, looking at the huge cost overruns for most, if not all, gov’t-sponsored projects, (ex. the new swimming stadium) those percentages may not be such an exaggeration.

Ferenc
Guest

OT (sort of)
“2017 would be the year of mutinies” (acc.kormany.hu):
-NOlimpia: http://www.nolimpia.com
-official request return of pay tax
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6YfPT_As8k
http://444.hu/2017/01/27/az-adojaert-harcba-szallo-ferfi-azt-keri-tamogatoitol-ne-dobjak-ossze-a-bunteteset
expect more corruption cases, so awaiting the wave of mutities, HAJRA!!

wpDiscuz