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Right-wing fears of Socialist influence over National Bank

October 6th, 2012

A pro-government columnist finds it deeply worrying that an advisor to the President of the Hungarian National Bank is a Socialist party member. He believes that “such a conflict of interests” threatens the bank’s independence.

Last week Magyar Nemzet reported that Róbert Braun, an advisor to Central Bank President András Simor has been a member of the Socialist party for a year. Braun was formerly communication director in Socialist Prime Minister Péter Medgyessy’s staff and chief advisor to Ferenc Gyurcsány, Medgyessy’s successor. He has now acknowledged meeting regularly with MSZP leader Attila Mesterházy on an informal basis, and has announced that he will seek elected office as a Socialist Party candidate in the future. He also stepped down from his position at the National Bank. The MSZP leadership said that they were not aware of Braun’s party membership and that there had been no conflict of interests.

In Magyar Hírlap, Péter Forró finds it peculiar that the Socialists see no conflict of interests in a Socialist Party member being a close aide to the President of the Central Bank.

Forró points out that the MSZP has staunchly criticized the government for pressurizing and influencing the Central Bank (see BudaPost January through July, 2012). The Socialists claim that the government’s efforts threaten not only the independence of the Central Bank, but democracy as such. He believes that the MSZP would immediately turn to the EU and international financial authorities if it turned out that one of the advisors of the Central Bank President was a member of the governing party.

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