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Was Közgép’s ad an attempt to bribe Népszava?

July 28th, 2012

Leading Socialist politicians condemn Népszava for printing a full page advertisement by Közgép, a construction company widely believed to be the backbone of a Fidesz-friendly business empire. The editor-in-chief asks why it is necessary to throw away money that helps keep the daily afloat.

The Socialist parliamentary group found it intolerable that a left-wing newspaper should accept ad money from a company that is the number one target of Socialist criticism and is suspected of being the number one beneficiary of the mishandling of public and EU money. The Socialist MPs urged immediate action from the Party leadership, while on the party’s official internet site, deputy floor leader Zoltán Lukács demanded – on behalf of the party – that Népszava should “put an end to any co-operation with these circles”.

A leading Népszava columnist, Iván Andrassew informs the public about his own disastrous financial situation. He earns 60 per cent of his 1992 salary and never gets it on time. His gas supply has been cut because he has not been able to pay the bills, and he has been living on bread, lard and onions for months. Nor is he able to regularly pay the child support he owes his former wife. He accuses the Socialist MPs and the party leadership of being responsible for the plight of the left-wing daily and of its journalists:

Péter Németh, editor-in-chief of Népszava, defends his decision to publish a Közgép ad. He calls it surprising that any advertiser would buy space in Népszava, “considering efforts to the contrary by the present government,” but admits that it is even more surprising that this particular advertisement came from Közgép, that is, from “the Simicska empire”. (Mr Lajos Simicska, a former Fidesz treasurer is the ultimate owner of Közgép.)  Németh says Népszava has always condemned the rapidly growing Közgép’s preferential status in public tenders as unacceptable, “and continues to do so”. The editor in chief admits that he did not protest when “money was thrown at us”, but rejects “conspiracy theories” concerning an MSZP-Fidesz pact (as voiced by LMP politician András Schiffer) or the accusation that Népszava was bribed, as equally absurd. Nevertheless, he might have heeded to the pressure, since he ends his column on a negative note: “it is a sad story, and all the more sad, as Simicska will again end up as the winner. For he will spend his money elsewhere”.

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