Viktor Orban and his Fidesz won the Hungarian election again and will have a supermajority in the parliament for four more years. They used every tool available to them to get this result: a distorted election system, a combative pro-government media machine financed by Hungarian taxpayers, racist anti-migration propaganda and populism.
We are only a few days after the election but it is already clear that the space for independent journalism will keep shrinking in Hungary.
On the night of the election government spokesman Zoltán Kovács said that the loopholes need to be closed that allow organizations that ‘meddle in politics’ to operate. The governing party has already indicated that it will pass the ‘Stop Soros’ bill as soon as possible, which targets NGOs.
In the first week after the election, three media outlets closed down: 80-year-old newspaper Magyar Nemzet published its last issue on Wednesday. Lánchíd Rádió stopped broadcasting Tuesday at midnight. The Budapest Beacon announced that it would cease operations on Thursday.
These are the latest developments in a long story that has started many years ago. The Orban government turned the public service media into a Soviet-style propaganda machine. The country’s biggest newspaper was shut down in 2016. Orban’s oligarch bought every single regional newspaper, TV2, websites origo.hu, news weekly Figyelő and a number of radio channels as well.
And this will definitely go on. Make no mistake, Orban has no problem with media outlets that do not agree with its policies. But this government will not tolerate media outlets that are working on uncovering corruption and nepotism.
The stories they do not like are the ones that reveal that the prime minister’s son-in-law was running an elaborate scheme to make sure his company wins 35 public light modernization tenders funded by the EU, worth €40 million. They do not like stories that track how Fidesz is making its friends rich from taxpayer forints and European Union funds.
This is the reason why we are not backing off. Atlatszo will continue its work. We will continue investigating which government member or pro-Orban oligarch is stealing EU funds or how Fidesz and its friends took over the entire tobacco sector, or how the PM’s son-in-law dimmed the lights in the countryside.
Even though the government and its propaganda machine considers Atlatszo a ‘Soros-NGO’, in the past three years more than half of our budget came from our readers in the form of microdonations (‘subscriptions’) and the 1% of the income tax of our readers that they sent to us in their annual tax return. Last year, despite the government’s anti-Soros and anti-NGO propaganda campaigns we were able to convince more people to send us the 1 % of their taxes than a year before.
We do not put our stories behind a paywall, and this means that we rely on your – our readers’ – support. If you agree with our goals, please like and share our stories and support our work with a one-time or a regular donation. Crowdfunding is the key to our independence.
Your support matters
Atlatszo.hu is financed by nonpartisan and non-governmental sources; we do not accept money from state institutions, political parties and affiliates. We rely on support from readers. Donate here.