Fidesz’s very own “NGOs” stuffed with public money

In case you haven’t heard of GONGOs, here is the definition of the term: “Government-organized non-governmental organizations which are set up or sponsored by a government in order to further its political interests and mimic the civic groups and civil society at home, or promote its international or geopolitical interests abroad.” According to Moises Naim, former editor of Foreign Policy, although quite a few GONGOs are established abroad, “the more dangerous GONGOs grow at home. They have become the tool of choice for undemocratic governments to manage their domestic politics while looking democratic.”

The term GONGO is not yet widely known in Hungary, but I’m sure that soon enough it will be because Hungary’s undemocratic government has its own GONGOs, the largest being CÖF or Civil Összefogás Fórum (Forum of Civic Alliance). People had suspected ever since its founding in 2009 that CÖF was a GONGO, but finally there is evidence that the government has generously endowed CÖF through Magyar Villamos Művek (MVM), a state-owned utility company. In addition to the MVM grant, CÖF admits to having received two donations from Szövetség a Polgári Magyarországért Alapítvány, a Fidesz foundation. The grants were allegedly small–in 2012 40 million and in 2013 20 million forints. So, contrary to the Hungarian Wikipedia entry, which claims that CÖF is a bona fide NGO supported by civic groups, its main source of funding is the Hungarian government and Fidesz.

CÖF’s main activity used to be the organization of the so-called peace marches, six in all between January 2012 and March 2014, to bolster Viktor Orbán’s hold on power.  We also know that CÖF plastered the country with thousands of billboards, campaigning months before the official start of the election campaign for the 2014 election. The cost of that ad campaign must have been enormous.

CÖF’s finances have been fishy for a long time, but László Csizmadia, a lawyer who is the president of the organization, consistently refused to answers questions about its sources of funding. Then he changed his mind. A year ago Csizmadia released a long list of supporters, claiming that between 2013 and 2015 CÖF had received almost 620 million forints in the form of gifts from organizations and individuals. When Népszabadság investigated the alleged gifts, however, it found that most of them were bogus.

Given the Orbán government’s recently intensified attack on NGOs that receive grants from abroad, the independent media decided to return to the finances of CÖF. At the end of April HVG published an article about CÖF, which unfortunately is still not available online. Information reached HVG that CÖF’s large budget is funded by the government via MVM. The cover of that issue tells it all. A dog dish filled with money with the caption: “Domesticated civilians—the bought and the attacked.”

The front page of HVG: Little Cöfi’s dish

CÖF’s leadership, which consists of four individuals, was outraged and released a statement which I’m sure they found ever so clever. They explained that there are different types of dogs: watch dogs, hunting dogs, and rabid dogs. CÖF is a watch dog which defends the homeland. Therefore HVG, which for years has been attacking them, must be satisfied with criticizing one of the other two categories.

But a few days later MVM fessed up: they admitted that in 2016 alone they gave 508 million forints to CÖF. Obviously, Csizmadia and his friends couldn’t admit that this money will be spent on the next Fidesz campaign. They had to come up with a couple of innocent-sounding projects. But their creative juices didn’t seem to be flowing. Their first brilliant idea was to establish an entirely new branch of the social sciences, which they decided to call “civilitika/civilitica.” Wow, that’s ambitious! The other undertaking will be the creation of “complete meals based on biological-dietetic principles,” which would then be served in school cafeterias. The chef who has been working on the project explained the meaning of a “complete meal.” It would be a meatloaf-like mixture that would also include the necessary vegetables. Why meatloaf? Because, according to the chef, children like it while they may not like eating vegetables on the side. I wonder how long these children would be satisfied with meatloaf every day, with or without vegetables. As for civilitica, I wouldn’t presume to guess what that could possibly be.

MVM’s grant of 508 million Hungarian forints is approximately $1.8 million. This may not sound like an extraordinary amount of money, but we have to keep in mind that in Hungary every party over a certain size, including Fidesz of course, receives a certain sum of money from the central budget. The money MVM gave to CÖF in 2016 is more than any of the opposition parties received. Jobbik got 476 million forints; MSZP, 427 million; LMP, 174 million; Együtt, 134 million; DK, 132 million; Párbeszéd, 107 million; and MLP, 71 million.

I should add that CÖF isn’t the only GONGO in Hungary. Szövetség a Nemzetért Alapítvány (SZNA), the organization behind the civic groups Viktor Orbán came up in 2002 after his failure to win the election, received 340 million forints last year from the state-owned HungaroControl, a company that offers air navigation services. Thus, says András Stumpf of the conservative Válasz, between these two GONGOs 848 million forints, approximately 3 million dollars, has already been stashed away, “and we are still at the very beginning of the campaign.”

Naturally, the opposition parties are up in arms, as they should be. However, both MVM and Fidesz insist that the contributions are legal because money received from state-owned companies is not considered to be public money. MVM, after releasing the information, explained to Átlátszó that “MVM in the last twenty years has spent several billion forints for projects important for society. This money all came from MVM’s own resources.” They also wanted to make sure that Átlátszó­ understands that in 2016 the MVM Group paid 130 billion forints in taxes.” Balázs Hidvéghi, the latest Fidesz spokesman, sees nothing wrong with CÖF campaigning for the government from “state money.” He also supports CÖF’s latest appearance in Brussels, where a group of about 20 people demonstrated against the bureaucrats of Brussels who had a few questions for Viktor Orbán about his undemocratic ways. The trip to Brussels “served a public function,” claims Hidvéghi.

MSZP is filing charges against MVM for engaging in forbidden party financing and misappropriation. DK is convinced that this is just the tip of the iceberg and wouldn’t be at all surprised if “the pseudo civic activists” receive more money than all the opposition parties put together. Jobbik remarked that “CÖF is less independent from Fidesz than Hazafias Népfront (Patriotic People’s Front) was from MSZMP” in the Kádár regime. I heard more than one person agree with this claim.

May 13, 2017
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Doggo
Guest

James Comey is fired. The geniuses and experts here did not predict that.

Bannon is not fired. The geniuses predicted that many times.

Gorka is not fired. The geniuses predicted that many times.

Pretty bad track record so far in the expert analysis of the Trump government by all the “experts”.

On the matter of NGOs, the most dangerous are the Soros NGOs. They get billions upon billions in funds and often act as foreign agents.

If such foreign NGOs try to run a political campaign as they currently do, that level of foreign interference will not be tolerated. Foreign interference led to backlash and crackdowns in several countries already, why would it be any different in Hungary? If you plan to interfere in the elections in Hungary, better be prepared for heavy resistance from the population and the electorate. Foreign interference should never be allowed in any election.

The Soros NGOs are the textbook examples of foreign interference. It is undeniable.

FreeWheeling
Guest
Ah yes, Doggo(ne). Chugging away at your Hell energy drinks in Magyarország ready to repeat previous posts that meant nothing. I’ll indulge your little interests. Why? No one on this board deigned to predict that Supremo Trump would think to throw gasoline on the fire on his nascent presidency. It was plainly stupid. Just about anyone with any real degree of knowledge of the American justice system will attest (compare with your favourite Fidezer scribes who, if you bother to track their writings, have proved to have very superficial knowledge of the American system) that any high crimes and misdemeanors will eventually be served justice. Just give it time. Feel free if your now-friends come eventual slave masters with that feared Eastern European nation with a GDP less than Italy goes about dilly-dallying amongst countries including outside of their own including your own beloved nation of Magyars. Concerning the futures of Bannon and your favourite Gorky. The blog owner, who really matters, had predicted anything of the sort. Commenters, such as yourself, had repeated what leaky Trump White House officials had said and told to journalists in DC. No one quite knows why you seeming have a man-crush on such… Read more »
FreeWheeling
Guest

By the way, with your bugaboo about foreign interference and funding. Why are you for the EU funding that your Fideszer masters have absolutely no problem in accepting and funding their escapades? Furthermore I can remember when Fidesz had their funding about the 2008 referendums that they had no problems in accepting the funding from outside sources. (generous individuals outside of Hungary)

Please don’t bother posting here any longer. Your brain power should be used to help develop further ways to lick the boots of your true masters.

Guest

Doggone-

“Foreign interference should never be allowed in any election.”

If foreign interference should not be allowed, then why does Orbán allow Putin to interfere in Hungarian afffairs?

Or is Hungary now so closely allied to Russia, that the USSR is no longer considered “foreign”?

Of course we know the answer to that. By foreign interference our friend Doggone, speaking on behalf of Orbán, means anything from properly run democracies in the West with its checks and balances, and systems in place to curtail the lawless shenanigans of the likes of Orbán and his henchmen, needs to be stampd out so that our great Führer can do as he pleases and continue to pillage Hungary’s resources.

And note the veiled threat in Doggone’s comments. Physical violence against opponents of Orbán seems to be high up on the Fidesz agenda.

Ferenc
Guest

The term GONGO, for “Government-Organized Non-Governmental Organization” is nice, but it’s English. In the Hungarian situation a good and catchy Hungarian abbreviation is very needed, some suggestions:
*KOSZ CIVIL from KOrmány SZervezett CIVIL szervezet
*KOSZCISZ from KOrmány SZervezett CIvil SZervezet
imho the word “kosz” is very appropriate in this case, as “kosz(os)” means dirt(y)
…bring on your own suggestions here…

Member

Ference,
In english a better naming would be:
Government serving NGO.
Serving instead of organized is more correct though the abbreviation sounds not so good.
Maybe in hungarian it sounds better ?

Ferenc
Guest

Further on the term KOSZ (KOrmány SZervezett = Government-Organized) can also be very efficiently applied for the media/press (in Hungarian média /sajtó). In this way there can be three categories of media/press:
-independent/free media/press => független/szabad média/sajtó
-public media/press => közösségi média/sajtó => KÖZmédia [M1, Mx, Duna, Kossuth radio, etc.*]
-government organized media/press => kormány szervezett média/sajtó => KOSZmédia [you know the ones…]

*note: at the moment the ‘KÖZmédia’ can hardly be considered real public media, as it’s only serving the government (and it’s news mainly quoting ‘KOSZmédia’) while using public money

Tracey
Guest

Hmm. I Like that Ferenc. Kosz + os, gives us an adverb, Koszos Civil – dirty civil..

Istvan
Guest
Eva’s essay on GONGOs and Hungary was interesting. Her essay’s use of Moises Naim’s definition of GONGO was also useful, because his essay from 2009 clearly points to the USA as a user of the concept too. One he notes in particular was National Endowment for Democracy (NED), frankly when I was in the military and did work internationally with UN peace keeping forces we just called all of these groups, “front organizations,” be they not for profits or for profits. We used to joke about some them, particularly the Russian ones, but some of our own US nones too. There were many such groups both the Russians and the USA sponsored and I even provided consulting services for one such company, the RAND Corporation. RAND is interesting because some times it provides a contrarian perspective for our government here, but it’s ties are very deep too. I suspect this is not the case with similar Russian or Hungarian organizations. There is truly nothing shocking about all of this it’s well know. Fidesz learned how to create such groups from the masters of it in both Russia and the USA, we don’t need to be naive about all of this.… Read more »
Doggo
Guest

What do you see as the difference between a Soros-created, Soros-owned or Soros-linked “NGO” (SNGO -Soros NGO) and as something sponsored by the US government? Do you view SNGO-s as “more independent” when in fact they are owned and serve a single person? How is faithful service to a single person, Soros manifest higher independence then service to the USG ? Which is at least is changeable by the voters, while service and or ownership of Soros can not be broken by any election or other democratic process?

Member

Ok, lapdog, you asked a question.
The difference between the Soros-linked NGOs and the fascist filth you are working for is that you and your fellow scum are being paid from my taxes and have removed any semblance of democracy from Hungary. Soros? Not one forint from my pocket has he stolen, your fascist regime is still in place, so I fail to see what his influence has caused herer

If Soros was as all/powerful as you and your fellow anti-semites all over the world argue that he is, then your Fuhrer would be swinging from a lamp-post hoisted up by his previously loyal citizens.
Bed-time now in Moscow?

aida
Guest
It is difficult to understand what the NGO/Soros problem is. In a free society anyone is permitted to carry out any activity that does not contravene the criminal law. The activities might be commercial, financial, educational, cultural or political. If the activity is lawful and the funding is from lawful sources it is difficult to see any problem. I accept that when it comes to the funding of political parties there are transparency requirements and normally donations from foreign sources are not acceptable. The Soros/NGO issue is entirely artificial and is a piece of hysteria generation. The fact that any particular government or party does not agree with the political objectives of some of its citizens or even non citizens is no justification in a free society to suppress it. There lies tyranny. I know many governments detest opposition. Mrs May may yet lose the election she called with barefaced dishonesty that matches her promotion of the EU when it suited her politically. History is littered with the corpses of tyrants whose flawed judgment did not stop them committing atrocities for which ultimately they were held to account. The rule is very simple: any ruler must win the argument against… Read more »
Member

Soros is high above your own ethical preferences. You are a midget.

Istvan
Guest
Soros sponsored or supported NGOs in many cases opposed US structured and funded front groups. If anything it shows his amazing independence from the nation state in which Mr. Soros lives. I for example disagreed with Soros on the Vietnam war, I disagreed with his favorable attitude towards aspects of the occupy Wall Street movement, but I agree with him and some of his supported organizations on refugees and other issues. What Russia, the USA, and some other countries do with their GONGOs is to simply promote what they precieve as bing in their national interests. To an extent GONGOs in Hungary reflect largely the interest of the Fidesz faction, not really the national interest. Of course I suppect Doggo sees no difference between Fidesz and the national interests of Hungary which would be typical of a national socialist. None of the US GONGOs really resemble the Forum of Civic Alliance, some of the Russian ones do. In the USA there are indeed not for profits that resemble the Forum, but as a rule they get no governmental funding, its all private or corporate. I am sure Trump would love to change that with altering the rules for not for… Read more »
wrfree
Guest

Re: GONGOS

“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. … Political language … is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” Orwell

Institutional deception at its slickest. Magyarorszag as pupil apparently has learned much in how to burrow and dot political landscapes with deceit from a master in the East. Two peas who burrow into many pods.

Havelaar
Guest

http://budapestbeacon.com/featured-articles/bayers-latest-call-violence-surprise-no-one/46682

Dear Eva,

Not up to me of course, but anyway,

Bayer: “If people like this show up in the parliament’s building again and disrupt their work, then they need to be thrown out like shitting cats. If they need to be pulled out through their snot and blood, then they should be pulled out through their snot and blood….Their faces should be beaten apart, if need be,” Bayer said on his Karc FM radio program.

Time for an update. According to me Bayer’s way of thinking represents the heart and soul of Orban’s Fidesz. Time for an update I hope. Should deserve much more headlines in the German, Dutch, etc. news me thinks.

wrfree
Guest

Political linguists might to want be apprised of the frequency of phrases in the form of ‘******** cats’ or the ‘spirit’ embedded in its varied enunciations either by ZB or by other pals with fish to fry. It would seem highly probable that the extent of the frequency of ‘down home’ words will give an idea of how far then belligerence and intimidation will extend itself through political discussion prior to elections. Much to ponder in the ‘animal farm’ cacophony which should be picking up.

Member

Orban (showing his back to us) gets approving smiles from fellow tyrants in Beijing (Peking).

comment image

Gretchen
Guest

Very interesting photo! I see only one smile–on Putin. OV’s posture leaves much to be desired. It looks as if he is being forced to receive Putin’s smile, that his body in fact does not wish to be there.

Member

He feels uncomfortable. At home it’s him, who is the Mafia-Boss.
But this is Putins’ club he entered, and he feels, that there is no way out of it again.
No way back to Europe for Hungary under Orban in Putins hands.

“Herr, die Not ist groß!
Die ich rief, die Geister
werd ich nun nicht los.”
(Goethe)

Guest

Really strange picture – of the others I recognise Turkish Erdogan, but who is the young man in the middle?
Can someone name them all?

Totally OT:

It seems that Mrs Merkel and her party CDU is stronger than ever if one looks at today’s local election in North Rhine/Westpahalia.
The best part is that the Left aka Communists lost (below 5% means no representatives in parliament) and the fascist AfD also stayed way below expectations with around 7%.

Winston, what do you feel?

Member

Wolfi, a comment to my former home country NRW:
It is a bit sad. Schulz seems to be a flop. Due to bad politics, concerning schools/education SPD and the Greens have lost.
The Cdu man Laschet, who gets Ministerpräsident, is at least not a populist like last CDU man Rüttgers. What I remember of him, is that he has progressive opinion about e.g. integration of the refugees.

If Die Linken get under 5% CDU could make coalition with neoliberal FDP.
And this party I like least. For me, completely useless party nowadays. It’ s a miracle how people can vote for them.

Ferenc
Guest

Picture is from “Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation” organized by the Chinese government this weekend in Beijing, this morning I wanted to check who were present there, but couldn’t find.
According to this picture the whole “illiberal” top appears to be expecting to get something from the Chinese.
Would be nice if somebody could identify all on the picture (also the brilled person pushing OV to Mr.P.)

Member

Facing us, from left to right:

Erdogan, Lukashenko, Putin, Lukashenko’s son

Ferenc
Guest

The person pushing OV is the Chinese PM Li Keqiang.
The story about Lukashenko’s son is also very strange:
“Lukashenko fathered an illegitimate son, Nikolai, who was born in 2004. Though never confirmed by the government, it is widely believed that the child’s mother is Irina Abelskaya – the two had an affair when she was Lukashenko’s personal doctor. It has been reported by Western observers and media that Nikolai, nicknamed “Kolya”, is being groomed as Lukashenko’s successor. According to Belarusian state media, these speculations were dismissed by Lukashenko, who also denied that he would remain in office for a further thirty years – the time Nikolai will become eligible to stand for election and succeed him.”
Note: Lukashenko has also two other much older sons, born 1975 and 1980, with his wife, who is living separately from him, but legally still married to him.
source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Lukashenko

Ferenc
Guest
Ferenc
Guest

Here’s a nice map of the whole ‘Silk Road’ initiativecomment image
The planned Belgrade-Budapest trainline is included in it, but a connection to the ‘Silk Road’ itself isn’t there…..

Guest

That new silk road project looks strange to me – of course it would be a good way to get even more plastic trash into Europe …

Member

I have a feeling that we waste time and engagement on Doggo.

Guest

Albrecht Neumerker

I think it is a good plan to ignore Doggie, but for any readers new to HS, and for those who don’t really understand the situation in Hungary, it is important to refute the nonsense little Doggie proclaims.

So I suggest that we do not reply directly to him, but instead address other readers, and refute the lies of any Doggie-type Fdesz agent.

In other words, do not dignify anythig Orbán’s gangsters have to say by replying to them, but make comments to readers, and not to people who are not worthy of civilized discourse.

Ferenc
Guest

Basically agree with the idea, just always make clear WHY it’s impossible to hold a civilized discourse with Doggies&Co. So return ‘the kicked-in ball’, that first fair arguments and taking back of disrespectful words are needed to start a real discussion.
PS: better replace ‘not worthy of’ with ‘impossible for’ in your comment

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