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Deferred payment offered on fines for illegal party financing

January 15th, 2018

A liberal commentator suspects a trap, as Minister of National Economy Mihály Varga offers a possibility for the deferred payment of fees levied on opposition parties found guilty of illicit campaign financing. A pro-government columnist dismisses similar criticism by opposition parties.

On Wednesday, Minister of National Economy Mihály Varga announced that the government will start negotiations with the tax authority and the State Audit Office in order to allow the fines to be paid in installments – after the April Parliamentary election. The announcement was made after most opposition parties including Jobbik (see BudaPost December 18), LMP, Democratic Coalition and Together announced that they would not pay the fines.

On Index, Tamás Fábián interprets Minister Varga’s announcement as a precautionary measure. The liberal commentator thinks that the tax authorities’ procedure against the opposition parties could have hijacked the 2018 April election campaign. The opposition parties could use such a procedure to accuse the government of using public authorities for political purposes, Fábián explains. He goes on to point out that by claiming to be the common targets of dictatorial misuse of state power, the ideologically very diverse opposition could even unite against the governing Fidesz party. Fábián thus agrees with the opposition parties that the extension of the time allowed to pay the fines is just another trick of the government to secure victory at the April Parliamentary election.

Magyar Idők’s Zsolt Bayer finds it absurd that the opposition parties are accusing the State Audit Office and the government of the selective application of the law. The pro-government columnist notes that according to all polls, Fidesz has a clear lead, and thus Bayer finds it absurd to suggest that the governing party needs to misuse power in order to win again in the April election. Bayer believes that the opposition parties clearly violated the party financing regulations and rather than complying with the law, they are using the opportunity to accuse the government of dictatorial tinkering. But after Mr. Varga’s announcement, they will not be able to blame their defeat on the putatively oppressive government and the uneven political field, Bayer concludes.

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