NGOs close to Fidesz and KDNP politicians are among the main beneficiaries of “civil funds” distributed by the government to Hungarian NGOs.
Abcug’s Illés Szurovecz writes that almost without exception those civil organizations receive the most state support that are somehow connected to Hungary’s ruling Fidesz-KDNP party alliance.
In 2012 the so-called “National Solidarity Fund” (NEA) replaced the National Civil Fund. The impartiality of the organization was questionable from the outset because Civil Összefogás Fórum (CÖF) founder and “Peace March” organizer László Csizmadi was named its president.
Within NEA the following five colleges preside over the distribution of state funds:
- Settlement environment
- Mobility and accommodation
- National Solidarity
- For the future of the new generation
- Undertaking social responsibility
We analysed the list of grant winners, with special attention to those applicants winning at least HUF 2 million or more in 2013 and 2014.
A conspicuous amount of NEA funds were awarded to NGOs connected with the Gmoser family in Kiskőrö. The Kiskőrös Association for culture received HUF 3.5 million in 2013 and HUF 5.3 million this year. The president of the association is András Gmoser, who was elected vice-president of the local Fidesz youth organization, Fidelitas, in 2007. In October of this year he was elected to the local city council.
András Gmoser is also the director of the FŐNIX Culture and Youth Association, which won HUF 6.7 million and HUF 3.6 million in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The organization has been working out of the Bács-Kiskun county Civil Information Center, which qualifies it for technical assistance as well as operating assistance.
The Kiskőrösi Slovak Association also performed well, receiving HUF 2 million last year and HUF 5 million in 2014. Its president is András Gmoser’s mother, Mrs. György Gmoser. András Gmoser’s brother, István Gmoser, is the director of the Kiskőrös Association for Equestrian and Health, which won more than HUF 4 million this year in the form of a state NGO grant. Last year his son, who is also named István, was elected vice-president of Bács-Kiskun chapter of Fidelitas.
Just north of Szeged, Kiskundorozsma’s Kálman Sztriha Public Foundation received the largest operative grant awarded this year by the Settlement Environment College: HUF 2.9 million. The president of the foundation’s board is Mrs. Hidvégi Julianna Szepesi, who is also the director of the head department of the Csongrád county prefecture. Also a member of the foundation’s board is Lajos Timar, the vice-president of the Szeged chapter of KDNP. Previously, Lajos Mihálffy, the CEO of Szeged government-owned Ritek Zrt. and Fidesz-KDNP candidate for local city council this year, was a foundation board member as well.
The National Solidarity College made numerous grants in the amount of HUF 3 or 4 million in 2013, the largest being a HUF 4 million grant to the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation, whose president, László Hámos, was an adviser to the first Orbán government.
The National Solidarity College often awards grants to religious NGOs or ones situated in ethnic Hungarian regions outside of Hungary. Beneficiaries include the Historical Order of Knights and the Association of Hungarian Youth, sister organization to the Transylvanian Hungarian Youth, which hosted Jobbik politicians Gábor Vona and Márton Gyöngyösi this summer, as well as nationalist rock groups Karpatia and Ismerős Arcok (Familiar Faces).
In Heves county, the Egri Norma Foundation, which appeared out of nowhere two years ago, won HUF 3.4 million last year and HUF 3.5 million this year.
The association of women for the Hungarian Nation and the Brother Sun, Sister Moon Public Association, both led by Annamária Pethő and both registered to Pethő’s law office in Budapest, won grants of HUF 5.3 million and HUF 2.5 million from the National Solidarity Fund in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
NEA has made a number of grants to the civil organizations of Fidesz mayors and MPs. The Gabor Bethlen Foundation, whose board of directors is chaired by the vice-president of the Hungarian parliament, Sándor Leszák, won a grant of HUF 3.5 million this year. Similar amounts were awarded to the City Kecskemét Bozsó Foundation, whose board includes state secretary for public health Gábor Zombor. National Theatre director Attila Vidnyánsyky’s Hungarian Theater Company Association won HUF 2 million in 2013 and in 2014 as well.
The Hierotheosz Association, which operates as part of the Greek Catholic church of Máriapócs, one of whose directors is former Fidesz MP Oszkár Seszták, won HUF 5.5 million in 2013 and more than HUF 2 million this year. The separate Foundation for Máriapócs run by that town’s Fidesz mayor, Bertalan Papp, won HUF 3.5 million this year.
The Plumb Country Association run by Fidesz MP Attila Tilki won HUF 3 million in 2013 and in 2014. In eastern Hungary the Veritas Cultural Association of Békes county run by former Fidesz city councilman Géza Csibor won more than HUF 5 million in 2013 and HUF 2.5 million this year.
Situated north of Budapest in the town of Szentendre, the Association for Healthier Youth run by former Fidesz city councilman Miklós Dukai won HUF 3.5 million in 2013 and in 2014 as well. Dukai presently serves as the department head of the Pest County Prefecture.
The Path Enhancing Opportunity Foundation founded by Füzesgyarmat Fidesz mayor Károly Bere was awarded HUF 3 million in 2013 and over HUF 1 million this year. By contrast, the Orosházi Civil Cooperation Association whose president is that city’s Fidesz mayor, Zoltán Dávid, received HUF 4 million last year and more than HUF 1.5 million in 2014.
Of all the larger NGOs critical of the government, only Másság Foundation received funds last year, HUF 2 million, in the form of operative supports. Their grant application this year did not make the final cut and ended up on the waiting list.