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Campaign ad law amendments rejected by Parliament

June 16th, 2017

A pro-government commentator accuses opposition parties of corruption after opposition MPs rejected the government’s amendments to the political campaign law. Magyar Nemzet’s columnist, on the other hand, thinks that the government wants to silence the opposition.

On Wednesday, Parliament rejected government amendments to the law on political advertising. The bill would have limited the display of political billboards beyond election campaigns for political parties as well as for the government. Fidesz floor leader Lajos Kósa argued that the bill was aimed at ruling out covert campaign financing. As an example, Mr Kósa mentioned the Jobbik billboard campaign which accuses the government of large scale corruption. The Jobbik posters have been displayed on billboards owned by media mogul Lajos Simicska (owner of Magyar Nemzet and HirTV among others) at an unknown price. An investigation has been launched by the tax authority into that particular campaign. The opposition parties voted in unison against the amendment, which would have required two-thirds of the votes to pass.

Magyar Idők’s Ottó Gajdics interprets the opposition’s decision to vote against the amendment as an indication that neither the Left nor Jobbik want to make campaign financing more transparent. The pro-government columnist finds it remarkable that exactly those parties that accuse the government of corruption do not approve legislation that would increase transparency.

In Magyar Nemzet, László Csécsi agrees that more transparency in campaign financing would be important, but he claims that the proposed amendments would have penalized opposition parties more than the government, which could at any time circumvent the ban by subsidizing pro-government NGOs which display the government’s messages on billboards.

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