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Following In the Footsteps of MSZP, Fidesz Has Also Exceeded the Legal Spending Limit

Following In the Footsteps of MSZP, Fidesz Has Also Exceeded the Legal Spending Limit

The joint initiative of Transparency International Hungary, Freedom House Europe and the Eötvös Károly Institute, the website, published data, according to which, two days before the first round of the 2010 parliamentary elections, both MSZP and Fidesz exceeded the legal spending limit in their campaigns. The civil organizations estimate that MSZP has spent 650.94 million Ft and Fidesz has spent 475.619 million Ft, compared with the 386 million limit set by law. The three civil groups have been monitoring party campaigns since the beginning of the year. Their aim is to provide the public with a more precise picture of the actual campaign costs, thereby demonstrating that the current legal framework generates corruption and does not contribute to the transparency of campaign and party financing.

“It is not surprising at all that the two major parties have overspent the legally allowed ceiling, even before the first round of the elections”, said Noémi Alexa, executive director of Transparency International Hungary. She added that although this year’s campaign is expected to be considerably cheaper than the one in 2006, it is practically impossible to conduct an effective national campaign from the spending limit set by law.

According to Bálint Molnár, director of Freedom House Europe, the final costs of the campaigns will be known only at the end of May, as advertising expenses are aggregated approximately with a one-month delay. “I would not be surprised if the final amount of the major parties’ campaign expenditures approached or even significantly exceeded 1 billion Ft”, said Molnár, highlighting the fact that the current data do not yet include the party advertising expenses of March, even though these expenses are the biggest items of the campaigns. Besides the two major parties, Jobbik and MDF are also expected to outspend the 386 million limit in the final total.

The joint project of the three civil organizations focuses on estimating the actual campaign costs in the first place. The aim is to provide voters with a more complete picture of how party campaigns are conducted and how much they cost in reality. The organizations hope that their analysis, which has a strong methodological basis and is in progress at the same time as the campaign, will significantly contribute to making discussions about party and campaign finance reform less hypocritical, and to leave behind the political rhetoric that denies the actual costs of the political system. This is the only way to abolish the current, untenable practices and to create a system which rests on professionalism, transparency and accountability.

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