Another attempt to silence Jobbik

In the last few days we have witnessed an entirely new form of pressure being exerted on Jobbik, currently the largest opposition party in Hungary, by the Orbán government with the assistance of the State Accounting Office (ÁSZ).

ÁSZ audits the finances of all parties biennially. This is one of those years when ÁSZ asks for documentation of party finances. The parties were informed that the auditing procedures for 2015-2016 would begin on August 10. On October 3 ÁSZ announced that Jobbik had refused to cooperate with the office and that it was therefore turning the case over to the prosecutor’s office. Unlike in other cases, the prosecutor’s office was prompt. It referred the case to the Nemzeti Nyomozó Iroda/National Investigative Office (NII), which is often called the Hungarian FBI. NII deals with cases involving human trafficking, state secrets, terrorism, drug-related issues, money laundering, and tax evasion.

Jobbik denies the accusation and claims that Péter Schön, the financial director of the party, and the chief accountant of ÁSZ’s investigative team were in constant touch. Moreover, on September 21 Schön and the officials of ÁSZ met personally. At that time Jobbik was told that this year ÁSZ was not going to do the auditing on the premises; Jobbik would have to send all the documents electronically. Then, suddenly, on September 28, Jobbik received an e-mail in which it was informed that, after all, there would be an audit at Jobbik’s headquarters and that ÁSZ was also interested in the first six months of the current year. This was a highly unusual request. In the 27-year history of ÁSZ no one ever wanted to audit financial transactions of a current year. Moreover, ÁSZ also informed Jobbik that the auditing team would arrive at 9:00 a.m. on the next day although—or because—Péter Schön had informed the ÁSZ officials already on September 27 that he would not be in the office that day and suggested the following business day, October 2, for ÁSZ’s visit. I should add that Jobbik by law had five days to respond and therefore was not obliged to jump.

Once ÁSZ’s men found the office locked on September 29, the office refused to accept the electronically submitted documents that Jobbik tried to submit. It also rejected the documents that János Volner, vice chairman of Jobbik, and Péter Jakab, the party’s spokesman, carried to ÁSZ in two boxes on October 3. They were told that ÁSZ cannot take the documents. They can accept only electronically submitted material, which Jobbik was prevented from submitting earlier.

It was obvious that ÁSZ, which in the past has been fairly even-handed, must have gotten the word from above to put pressure or worse on Jobbik. We know from Fidesz sources that Viktor Orbán flew into a rage over Jobbik’s brilliant billboards showing Viktor Orbán, Lőrinc Mészáros, Árpád Habony, and Antal Rogán. In a great hurry the government proposed a new law that was supposed to put an end to billboards with political messages, but it was so sloppily thrown together that it was full of loopholes. Lajos Simicska came to Jobbik’s rescue, selling the party 1,200 billboard spaces that allowed the party to continue its political attacks on Viktor Orbán and Fidesz. I assume that Orbán decided to put an end to this cat and mouse game once and for all.

János Volner and Péter Jakab in front of ÁSZ’s headquarters

Fidesz’s auxiliary forces were on hand to offer their two cents. István Kovács, the “strategic director” of the notorious Center for Fundamental Laws (Alapjogokért Központ/AK), which is a government-financed legal think tank, moved into immediate action. In an interview on the state television’s M1 channel, “without exhibiting any objectivity,” he announced that there is a strong possibility that Jobbik’s “refusal” to cooperate with ÁSZ will result in the party’s loss of its legal status. Such a move would throw the whole country into chaos, which might result in the physical violence on the streets that Antal Rogán and other Fidesz politicians kept talking about. As it turned out, however, the super clever legal experts of the Center were mistaken. The present law doesn’t allow the shuttering of a political party due to financial misconduct. But there is a brand new law which seems to have been written just for this occasion. In a great hurry Magyar Közlöny (Official Gazette) published an extraordinary issue on October 6 which contained the announcement of only one law: any offense committed in connection with the statutory aid to parties will result in an abatement of the amount received by the guilty party. Moreover, the amount ÁSZ found missing must be paid back in the form of taxes. So, in case anyone is naïve enough to think that the whole affair wasn’t staged and that Jobbik was actually uncooperative, this law is proof that it was premeditated. The Orbán government and Fidesz used the allegedly independent State Accounting Office and, through it, the prosecutor’s office to concoct stories in order to deprive its political opponent of the financial means to conduct a campaign for the next national election.

LMP, in a surprise move, came to Jobbik’s rescue. The party issued a statement deploring “the campaign against representative democracy with the assistance of the commissars of the prosecutor’s office.” The party also announced that it will ask TASZ, Hungary’s Civil Liberties Union, to provide legal aid to Jobbik. No official statement came from the other opposition parties as far as I know. I’m sure that LMP’s concern is genuine, but at the same time the move has benefits as far as LMP is concerned. Bernadett Szél just announced her candidacy for the post of prime minister and turned out to be the most popular among all the opposition candidates. For an aspiring party and its leader it is good politics to be in the news. It is important to be active.

The Jobbik leaders already labelled the government’s attack on their party the “Orbán Plan.” They naturally portray themselves as the only likely challenger of Fidesz of whom Viktor Orbán is afraid. Jobbik politicians might exaggerate their own importance, but it is true that in the last 12 months Fidesz attacks on Gábor Vona and his party have been fierce. Although Jobbik has lost some of its supporters, I don’t believe that this was due to the concerted offensive launched by Fidesz, led by Viktor Orbán himself. The relatively small loss of support was mostly due to Vona’s effort to make Jobbik a less radical and more mainstream right-of-center party. Some of the radicals in the party’s ranks most likely moved over to the Fidesz camp, which has shown a slow but steady rise. Therefore, I don’t believe that this latest assault on Jobbik will achieve its aim. It is very possible that it will actually elicit a certain amount of sympathy. In any case, I think that András Schiffer, the former co-chair of LMP, is quite right in saying that Fidesz, when it comes to Lajos Simicska, loses even its pretense of rationality. But, he added, it is really outrageous that ten million people have to suffer because of the personal vendetta that exists between these two men.

October 7, 2017
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Guest

I’ve said it before:
A new law every day keeps sanity away!

The Fidesz ideas of making these laws on the spot and pushing them though parliament the next day without any discussion are the best sign that they are not interested at all in any semblance to democracy.
In O’s eyes parliament is just a bunch of peasants (I deleted a stronger word …) to sign off anything that gets proposed to them.

The good news is that usually they are stupid and often hasty so there are always some errors and/or unforeseen consequences in their lunatic ideas …

My favourite example which I told all my German friends about was the Sunday closing law – but there are dozens of others.

Member

Why would Germans be surprised at a Sunday closing law? It’s the law of the land in Germany.

Guest

The point is the sudden change – we all know that many Hungarians effectively have two or three jobs (like in the USA …) so Sunday was their only chance to go shopping. Taking that away was a bad idea and Fidesz regretted it really soon obviously …

I use this to compare the standards of living – in Germany many people are home Friday afternoon, many offices are closed, while for Hungarians (like our neighbours …) the real work begins.

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘standards of living’

If what you say is true about amount of jobs individuals have now it in my estimation looks as if they haven’t moved from the good old Kadar days on that. I can recall seeing a video made about that issue back in the 80’s.

There was also a view on how families were having trouble getting apartments due to the shortage in various cities and towns. Wonder if those in the queues like in Casablanca ‘wait and wait and wait’ to get an apartment exist today on that score. I would imagine they would need some fat wallets nowadays.

Guest

Re “getting apartments”:

The problem is that (like in East and even some parts of West Germany) there are enough apartments/empty houses in cities and villages where no one wants to live – because there are no jobs! While in Bp the prices have risen – our young ones wouldn’t have been able to buy something without our help …

Not too much OT:
My brother in law aka the history buff took us to Dunaujvaros where they have a nice museum showing the development of this corner (the city itself was founded after 1945) from paleolithic times through Roman times and later – the people there were well informed, very friendly and eager to show us around and they spoke good English … 🙂
And one of them told us that the city is losing inhabitants at an alarming rate – the once powerful industry is on its way into oblivion – no new jobs …
And even here around Hévíz and the Balaton – if tourists from abroad stayed away the economy would crash!

Member

Speaking from a strictly personal point of view, I actually quite enjoyed the Sunday closings. The main question for me was, did the workers – the ones who spend weekends at Tesco and Praktiker instead of with their families – really want it?

It also seems the government should be more concerned about eliminating forced overtime and bosses who require employees to work while sick. But if that happened, some very wealthy friends of Mr. Orban might get upset.

Guest

Even in Germany and Austria (where btw many gas stations now have integrated a SPARsupermarket with good prices and long opening times) many people like to work on weekends – if they get some extra money for it which is the rule …
And the crazy side of the Hungarian Sunday closing law was that smallshops were allowed/supposed to be open – where the proprietor and his family would have to work while in a large supermarket you can always find someone who has no problem to work on a weekend, if they get paid extra!

Totally OT:
I worked as a freelancer part time in IT more than 30 years (for the same consulting/training company!) and my first wife worked also part time in a hospital – in principle the last 9 or 10 nights of every month (minus one month holiday). So I tried to do my projects and courses during that time and making good money we went on holiday at least 12 weeks a year – not bad …

LwiiH
Guest

Do you know why they revered it? The law was the obviously aimed at the multinationals. As soon as the law was passed, CBA and the other Hungarian chains started losing market share. It got so bad they begged for the law to be repealed. Funny thing, they’ve never recovered thie lost market share. I do believe they continued to bleed market share after the repeal.

dos929
Guest
One cannot help but feeling that the policies of the Orban Government, – or rather let’s not kid ourselves, it is just Orban’s -, is following the example of how Hitler got rid of the SA as a competing force on the political scene. It is not that one should feel sorry for the Jobbik, as in spite of their seemingly moving towards the centre from their extreme right policies, they are still a menace to democracy, but the FIDESZ is right next to them, and they are in a race for which one is further to the right. And to the observer it seems that Orban and the FIDESZ have and still keep following the Orwellian ways to a totalitarian dictatorship. So, no one should be surprised by the methods Orban is using in order to discredit his ‘enemies’ and pursue methods that are completely unacceptable in the 21st century EU. What is more tragic in this ‘war’ that the ‘independent’ judiciary not only is keeping silent, but is actively participating in this ‘raping the law’ process… And where is the Hungarian public in all this? Nowhere, as with the exception of those 300-400 thousand people that are following… Read more »
Observer
Guest

I guess there will charges pressed, subpoene and leaks from the prosecution office in the months before the elections. Never mind the laws, they just have to win, azt jó napot.

petofi
Guest

About Jobbik…it s all smoke and mirrors. Russian shit, really.

Jobbik is the doppelganger (thanks, Henry) for Fidesz.

Member
Guest

A bit OT:
Keno Verseck reports in the German SPIEGEL on Öcsény, the refugees and O’s reaction – again a scathing article describing the inhumanity of Fidesz and those village people full of hate and xenophobia:
http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/ungarn-dorf-verhindert-urlaub-fuer-fluechtlingskinder-a-1171577.html
PS and even more OT:
The description of that house, four rooms, common kitchen and bathroom – like in Socialist times, nothing luxurious …

Observer
Guest

This is not “a new form of ptessure” other unfriendly were subjected to prompt and extraordinary “audits” by the tax office, e.g. last the NGOs in 2015. eMP,

“LMP … came to Jobbik’s rescue.”
They rather came in defence of the rule of law. Again, who is the fascist party now?

Marty
Guest

Fidesz needs only one thing to win with 2/3s. One thing only.

Ensure that MSZP (and the other leftists) does not cooperate with Jobbik in any way.

There is no mathematical possibility for even a totally united left-wing alone to gain even a majority or to win more than 15 local districts out of 106.

Most likely Jobbik alone cannot win any local districts (perhaps accidentally half a dozen).

The two sides must cooperate. There’s no other way. If the left-wing and Jobbik cooperate in the local districts Fidesz is out of government, its finished.

So look for statements from MSZP or other leftist parties about not cooperating with Jobbik to figure out who’s the fidesznik.

Observer
Guest

Although I’m all for cooperstion in order to oust Orbán, I wouldn’t say all no-coop parties/individuals are fidesznik even if they ultimately serve the Fid interests. I’m amazed by the totally unrealistic, pretty dogmatic or suicidal concepts expressed by some genuinly dem side people.

Guest

Totally OT:
Just realised that Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty still exists on the net – and here’s a disturbing report on a Tatar village where 60 years ago a nuclear accident happened:
https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-nuclear-mayak/28755780.html
Will part of Hungary be like that if the glorious Paks project runs into trouble one day?

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