Current regulation is ineffective and impossible to observe
Party and campaign finance laws are impossible to observe, therefore they legitimize the unlawful enrichment of those who participate in corrupt transactions, and they give an excuse to every Hungarian citizen for their everyday corrupt practices.
The current legal framework, which has been in effect since 1997, is ineffective and impossible to observe. It is impossible to observe, because parties can spend 1 million Ft per candidate during the campaign season, that is 386 million Ft in total. Parties reported 500-700 million Ft campaign costs already after the 1994 elections, so the conclusion can be drawn that the legally set spending limit is too low. The campaign monitor estimates that the two major parties have exceeded the 386 million spending limit: they spent three times more than that.
However, the fact that we do not know the financial sources of the parties is an even bigger problem than overspending. The money spent in a non-transparent manner during the campaign is only a fraction of the amount which enriches the people participating in the financial transaction chain which ensures the funding of the campaigns.
The current law is ineffective because it does not obligate parties to make their campaign revenue and expenditure transparent and accountable. Parties do not have to present a detailed report of their annual spending; they can charge the whole campaign to “political activity”. The State Audit Office reviews these reports; however, it is only a legal supervision. If the report is formally legal, then it will be accepted and the actual spending will not be examined.
Key points of the campaign finance reform bill
Campaign account – Parties must pay all campaign expenses from a designated account which is kept at the State Audit Office. The account information must be published on the homepage of SAO.
Registration of advertisements – Only those are allowed to publish political ads in the campaign season who were registered by the National Election Committee in advance.
Strengthening the role of the State Audit Office, real oversight of the campaign – SAO audits must be extended to business ventures, foundations and youth organizations of the parties as well. It is necessary to increase the number and the competence of SAO staff and of national and local election committees. The bi-annual examination of state-funded parties should be changed to a yearly control, and special, unscheduled controls should be made possible as well.
The campaign monitor helps to keep track of the parties’ campaign spending. The aim is to provide citizens with a precise picture about how party campaigns are conducted and how much they actually cost.
Events organized by Transparency International Hungary about party and campaign financing.
Press releases about party and campaign financing.
As it was impossible to have representatives of parliamentary parties around the negotiation table since early May and further attempts seem to be destined to failure due to the stance of the parties of the governing coalition, thus the anti-corruption organisation gives up helping the parties in reaching an agreement.
All six parties in Hungary’s parliament agreed on the main principles of political party and campaign financing and signed a declaration on Wednesday. The agreement was made during talks initiated by Transparency International Hungary.
The estimated spendings of the parliamentary parties based on the received data will be published on www.kepmutatas.hu by TI Hungary after the closing of the elections.