A clear picture of party foundation funding in Hungary

Atlatszo.hu’s investigations into the finances of foundations funded by political parties, which are therefore spending taxpayers’ money, have finally been completed. The last submissions came from the radical Jobbik, which has now also released its records. Although the identities of the beneficiaries are unsurprising, the public now has fully substantiated reports of who is associated with which political side.

When Atlatszo.hu began to explore the finances of the party foundations – organizations officially classified as civil groups which are financed by political parties which in turn depend on public funds – even we were surprised at the compliant response from almost all major players on the field. The only one missing was Jobbik. Now, the project is complete.

Jobbik defines itself as a radical right-wing party, which is often condemned as downright fascistic for its views about ethnic minorities and the brutal solutions it proposes to social issues. Atlatszo.hu has covered Jobbik’s affairs extensively within Hungary along with its efforts to tamper with matters concerning ethnic Hungarian communities in neighboring countries (Romania, Serbia and Ukraine) down to the party’s recent attempts to appear moderate and potentially appeal to a broader group of voters.

While all other parties we approached with a formal freedom of information request complied, Jobbik declined saying the law doesn’t require it to disclose what we asked for. However, although the foundation maintained its legal position, it said that it received a request from Jobbik’s central leadership to release the data. (The original records can be viewed here.)

It is of little surprise that most of the money went to various consultancy projects. The foundations favorite research firm won contracts for a total of HUF 170 million (€553,000) since Jobbik got into parliament in 2010. The other records also don’t reveal anything that attentive Hungarian audiences weren’t aware of in terms of their focus: research into Hungarian heritage, studies about authors and historic figures that the political right embraces, and support to loyal media.

It is legal for Jobbik’s party foundation to run media outlets. Nonetheless, knowing exactly which of these media operate using public funds is invaluable information.

Atlatszo.hu is almost dissapointed that there is now no need for legal action in the matter of party foundations, but the time will come when the legal system must take a firm stance about the sketchy management of public funds that flow through these organizations.

Original article in Hungarian