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Civil Groups to Focus on Monitoring Campaign Finance in 2010

Civil Groups to Focus on Monitoring Campaign Finance in 2010

Transparency International and Freedom House brought forward a campaign finance reform proposal; however, Fidesz did not reply on its merits, therefore the two organizations announced on Wednesday that they would no longer participate in the discussions with the parties. As it is known, Transparency International and Freedom House presented their campaign finance reform bill, which was partly drafted from previous proposals, to the public on October 8th. The objectives of the initiative were also supported by President László Sólyom.

The proposal seeks to eliminate the, often, tenfold difference between the current campaign spending limit (1 million Forint per candidate) and the actual spending. The proposal, which also intends to stop corruption and achieve transparency in politics, aims to introduce a campaign account, which would be monitored by the State Audit Office. The campaign account would contribute to transparency, and could lead to a significant – up to 50 % – reduction of campaign spending. In the days following the presentation of the proposal, the MDF, the MSZP and the SZDSZ publicly indicated their willingness to vote for it in Parliament. Last weekend Fidesz-KDNP presented their own reform bill. Since certain points of their bill raise electoral and constitutional issues, the two civil organizations are of the opinion that more serious professional consultation would be needed than the one possible under the current circumstances.

Freedom House and Transparency International maintain that their proposal could still be the basis of a transparent campaign finance system.

Civil groups promise thorough monitoring of the campaign

“It would have been a wise and courageous decision on the part of the parties to vote for the proposal of the civil organizations, as it was professionally not criticized. Passing this reform bill could have abolished a hotbed of corruption: hypocritical campaign financing practices. Now that our proposal has been rejected, we do not see the point of further consultations; we will, instead, prepare for the thorough and strict monitoring of the campaign”, says Noémi Alexa, executive director of Transparency International Hungary.

“We regret that the parties go into the 2010 elections under the current legal framework, because it is likely that they will exceed the prescribed spending limit again”, says Bálint Molnár. According to the deputy director of Freedom House Europe, the corrupt practices that might arise during the elections could even raise constitutional and legitimacy problems after the elections.

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