Having spent tens of millions of dollars on national billboard campaigns over the past two years, Hungary’s governing Fidesz party would now have the country believe that billboards are a thing of the past.
“Billboards set up by political parties have no political benefit, since people do not necessarily want to pay attention to politics outside campaign periods,” said Strategic Director of the Fidesz-tied Center For Fundamental Rights István Kovács on state television. His opinion came just one day after the National Assembly voted down the governing Fidesz-KDNP coalition’s bill that would have prohibited political parties from setting up political billboards outside campaign periods, reports Hungarian news site 444.hu.
Kovács stated that “according to some, the billboard is the product of the previous century and by now it does not have a mobilising power anymore.”
His statements are hardly interpretable in the light of the government’s and its satellite organisations’ fondness for nationwide billboard campaigns outside of campaign periods. The “Hungary is performing better” campaign, the xenophobic anti-migrant campaign, or the recent “Let’s stop Brussels!” campaign, to mention a few, show just how indispensable are political billboards to the government.
The bill that was voted down on Wednesday most likely aimed to prevent Jobbik and other opposition parties from running billboards critical of the government and its policies outside of election season.
The past four weeks have witnessed a Jobbik billboard campaign accusing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and members of his government and inner circle of corruption.