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Hungary should ‘close the door’ on its fake party corruption problem

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Hungary should ‘close the door’ on its fake party corruption problem

Hungary should ‘close the door’ on its fake party corruption problem
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Campaigners will urge Hungary’s new government to ‘close the door’ on election-related corruption.

Transparency International (TI) will write an open letter to Viktor Orban's administration calling for the problem of fake political parties to be tackled.

Euronews revealed last week that bogus parties were being set-up ahead of Sunday’s general election to cheat the public purse out of up to €9.5 million.

More than a dozen bogus parties were founded to cash-in on government handouts for electioneering, claims TI Hungary.

But Hungary’s laws mean they will not have to account for how they spend the money, said the anti-corruption organisation.

Miklos Ligeti, head of legal affairs at TI Hungary, said 14 fake parties were on the ballot paper for Hungary’s poll at the weekend but none were interested in attracting votes.

They all received less than 1% of parliamentary seats, according to official election results.

Officially this means they should have to pay the money back, but Ligeti is sceptical this will happen.

Ligeti, referring to what TI will say in a open letter to the Hungarian government, added: “First we are going to blame on them the re-emergence of the fake parties, which in 2014 plagued the reliability of elections and was one component of our judgement that elections were free but not fair.

“This has repeated again [this year] and we blame this on the government.

“Secondly we expect the government to recover the money, but we don’t think they will be successful.

“Thirdly we invite the government to close the door on campaign corruption.

“We think even in the 2018 campaign this door was opened wide by questionable and vaguely-defined government regulations. It’s the responsibility of the government to close these doors and put in place some good legislation.”

Ligeti’s comments came as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) released a report about the fairness of Hungary’s election.

They said the outcome was legitimate but raised concerns about media freedom and the overlap between Fidesz’ campaign and government propaganda.

The report, referring to fake parties, said: “A number of new, unknown political parties used fraudulent methods to collect the required number of signatures and obtain registration in order to benefit from the public campaign funding.”

Viktor Orban, who won a landslide victory in the election, brushed aside OSCE’s concerns at a press conference.

Asked his response by a journalist he said: "Thanks for the contribution".