Hungary – On 16 October, Péter Márki-Zay, Viktor Orbán’s unsuccessful opponent in last April’s parliamentary elections, admitted on his Facebook account that his Hungary for All Movement (MMM) had received 1.8 billion forints (4.4 million euros) from American funds during his election campaign. These revelations are causing a stir within the Hungarian opposition, where this clearly poses an image problem.
The “united” opposition’s former leader was quoted by the pro-Fidesz daily Magyar Nemzet on 18 October as saying:
“One of my most important tasks starting last October was to fund the opposition campaign, to buy billboards, Facebook and YouTube ads.
And yes, to do so, we needed a non-partisan and parallel civil campaign, which was led by the MMM and financed by the MMM with the help of large Hungarian donors and Hungarian donors abroad.”
These funds were transferred to Péter Márki-Zay’s movement via an American foundation called Action for Democracy, which is seen by many as blatant U.S. interference in the last Hungarian parliamentary election campaign, thus adding to the latest controversy fuelled by the American ambassador’s meeting with top judges from the Hungarian National Judicial Council.
Meanwhile, as Origo.hu rightly pointed out on 18 October, in order to preserve the country’s independence, Hungarian law does not allow political parties to receive foreign funding. Thus Márki-Zay’s actions are now being denounced, including by his former allies, for whom it poses a serious image problem.
In an interview published on 3 November by the anti-government website 24.hu, Péter Ungár, co-chairman of the Hungarian Greens (LMP), unleashed a brutal attack on the candidate his party supported in the elections of 3 April:
“We had the wrong candidate, we presented a pro-market conservative against Fidesz, while keeping our own thoughts on the world almost secret. There was no unity. The campaign was bad.
(…) Péter Márki-Zay (…) thinks he has done everything right. (…) he gave ammunition to Fidesz with each of his speeches. (…)
If we in the LMP had known that so much foreign money had come in, we would not have poured so much into the opposition campaign. (…) What the hell is this?! No one knew about it.
(…) This money is chilling. And it’s chilling that a lot of people don’t see it as a problem. It’s very problematic. It’s not just a matter of someone giving money. The essence of the party law is that Hungarian citizens can give money to parties. George Soros can give all the money he wants to a party. It’s not a problem if someone puts money into politics, but you have to publish this information in the Hungarian official journal Magyar Közlöny, this is what the law says.”