The fiasco of Hungary’s bogus political parties

In the April national elections, the voting ballot given to citizens to select a party list may be the size of a tablecloth. Forty parties claim to have successfully nominated at least 27 candidates in constituencies spread across a minimum of nine counties and Budapest to be able to field a party list in April. One hopes that the National Election Office will reject at least some of these parties, considering the fact that it is  impossible for a party without a website, social media presence and a platform to have legally collected a minimum of 13,500 signatures in two weeks. What happened in the 2014 election, for instance, is that bogus parties shared and forged names and signatures from each other’s list.

Dozens of political parties with no websites, no social media presence and no program have sprung up ahead of the 8 April vote to pocket lavish taxpayer funding and then, presumably, to disappear the day after the vote. A total of 40 parties have submitted party lists ahead of the April election and at least 12 of them have almost no record of real political activity. If the National Election Office approves each of them to run, the ballot will include not only the “Hungarian Party of Poor People,” but also the “Party for the Poor” and the “Party for All the Poor” too. The ballot will include the “Hungarian Party of People Who Want to Do,” as well as the “Movement for the Will to Do.” With national party lists, these parties that were economical with their time when it came to coming up with their names will be paid at least 149 million forints in taxpayer funds, but as much as 597 million forints if they manage to field candidates in each of the 106 electoral districts.

It’s true that an amendment accepted in parliament requires parties that do not reach 1% support on their party list to refund their state funding. However, the “business parties” that have no chance of even coming close to 1% clearly assume that Hungarian authorities will not be willing or able to collect. After all, they have been lucky thus far. Smaller political parties with years or decades of history and with real programs and candidates had extreme difficulty collecting 13,500 valid signatures to field a party list. Legitimate candidates spoke about how it would take 7 hours of canvassing apartment building after apartment building to get a dozen signatures. Yet parties with no supporters, no social media presence and no website “miraculously” managed to have a much easier time at this.

So let’s take a look at some of these nascent political parties–seemingly in business for no other reason than to line the pockets of their founders.

  • Movement for the Will to Do (Tenni Akarás Mozgalom): No website and no Facebook page.
  • Hungarian Party of People Who Want to Do (Tenni Akarók Magyarországi Pártja): The party has a Facebook page, established in November 2017, with only 308 friends. (It appears to be a personal page, rather than a group or organizational profile.) The party has no website.
  • The Party for the Poor (Szegényekért Párt): The party has a Facebook page with 139 followers and a website which claims the party was founded in 2014. The party does have a platform, but with only 139 Facebook followers, I am astounded as to how they managed to collect more than 13,500 valid signatures required to field a party list.
  • Alternative Hungarian People’s Party (Alternatív Magyar Néppárt): No website and no Facebook page.
  • The Party of People Living in Hungary Who Work and Study (MEDETE Párt): No website, to Facebook page.

Indicative of the utter absurdity of the electoral system adopted by Fidesz in 2011, some couples and family members have each established their own political parties and are running against each other in the same electoral district. In one Csongrád county electoral district, the candidates include János Szimandl of the Party of Families, his wife Ibolya Nagy of the Cooperation Party and another family member, Tamás Szimándl, who represents “The Party of People Living in Hungary Who Work and Study” (MEDETE Párt).

Meet Szabolcs and Anett Hollender. Szabolcs is a candidate for one bogus party (MEDETE) and his wife is a candidate for another (The Party of Families).

The blatant abuse of the Fidesz electoral system does not stop here. This week we found out that Katalin Lévai, a former minister in the previous MSZP-SZDSZ government who angered many when she announced that she established her own political party called Lendülettel (“With Momentum,” not to be confused with the actual Momentum party) submitted a nomination form which included names and signatures that were copied verbatim from the nomination forms of the local Fidesz candidate. The names on Ms. Lévai’s list in many cases appeared in the same order as on the Fidesz candidate’s nomination form.

How did Ms. Lévai, allegedly an opposition candidate opposed to Fidesz, get a hold of the Fidesz candidate’s nomination forms? The answer is clear to most who follow Hungarian politics: it is in Fidesz party interests to have an endless list of opposition parties, some with names similar to real parties, run and cause confusion or chaos on the ballot, as well as take a few hundred votes in closely contested ridings from real candidates.

7 Comments

  1. Might as well make a good business off this so called “election.” For a million Forint a head, why not? Just who would not want to pocket some easy money?

    So the author now considers the multiple candidates as “spoilers”? Well that is why normally there are so called “primary election”, that weeds out the trash,and opens up the horizon for the viable candidates and adds interest to the final voting. But that’s unknown there.

  2. Hopefully the government will collect the money from all of them. Although, they may all just go bust & disappear.

    On another note, if anyone wants to suggest that this is a way for Fidesz to weaken the opposition, they are way off. Clearly these people will not get many votes. If there is someone who I think Fidesz needs to fight to keep on the political scene, it is Mr. Gyurcsany.

    1) He is splitting the left vote. Without him, Socialists would most likely be close to 20% or more. At the same time his party will never have more than single digit appeal.

    2) The more the opposition tries to unite and collaborate, the more they are all tainted by him. In this regard, he is associated with the 2002-2010 economic fiasco and its aftermath effects on people & country. He is also associated with the nasty position on ethnic Hungarian minority groups in neighboring countries, while at the same time he is well known for pro-migrant position. In other words, his message is; “Fellow ethnic Hungarians, boooo! ME-African colonists yeeee!”. I recently saw a video of Vona in Transylvania, where he was confronted by ethnic Hungarians who reproached him for any association with him, branding him a traitor. Face it! He is toxic and he contaminates anyone who will stand on the same side of the barricade with him. He not only gets people to vote Fidesz, but I think he repels many people from embracing any opposition, who would otherwise do so. Not that I think Hungary would be better served by any of the opposition figures currently on offer at the helm. If I were a Fidesz strategist, I would keep this guy in play for as long as he is alive. I would even make sure he lives a very long life.

    • Don Kichote says:

      Mr. Gyurcsany is only the enemies because he told the truth, that he has lied. But a lot Hungarian do not understand that Fact. Orbán is lying but Hungarians never mind.

  3. Don Kichote says:

    That this is a way for Fidesz to weaken the opposition.

  4. The warnings and protests of the democratic parties are proving well justified: the cheating with the nomination forms is in full swing:
    – DK’s Cs.Molnàr showed journalists forms where six signatures against the same name were completely different.
    – The KFKP (Two tailed dog party) president reported that he was approached by several persons offering filled in nomination form for money.
    – The bogus parties seem to shun secure Fid districts, e.g. 8-9 in 12th district a 35-40 in others.
    It’s shocking to realize that teams of Fid layers and PMs labor on how to enable wholesale cheating, although we know this is the substance of the Orban regime.

  5. StrandedinSopron says:

    “Without him, Socialists would most likely be close to 20% or more.”

    Gyurcsany is an irrelevance but seriously Peter, you think the MSZP would score 20% plus? I don’t know where you live but back here on Planet Hungary there is no way that they would get even into the teens. They are dead as a party and this reflected in the fact that I have seen absolutely zero leaflets, posters, canvas boxes, adverts. You know what? i will wager that the Two-tailed dog party will poll higher than him in the district where I live.

    • I’ll take you bet, 100 EUR. I’ll give u my bank details by email. I’m not sure though how are the GyF and MSZP votes compared.

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