Last week the State Audit Office ÁSZ formally accused Jobbik of accepting HUF 330 million (USD 1.25 million) in restricted non-material support in the form of a countrywide billboard campaign that took place involving billboards owned by Hungarian businessman Lajos Simicska.
A former Fidesz oligarch and the reported architect of Fidesz’s successful takeover of the commanding heights of the Hungarian economy following the 2010 landslide victory, Simicska publicly fell out with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the beginning of 2015 over the latter’s pro-Russian policies and attempt to recruit key media personnel for several new pro-government media outlets under way.
The Jobbik violation carries with it a fine of up to twice the amount of the restricted support, that is, HUF 660 million (USD 2.5 million). Such a fine would greatly impede the ability of Hungary’s second-largest party to campaign in the run-up to the general election scheduled to take place in April 2018.
By way of protest, Jobbik chairman and prime ministerial candidate Gábor Vona announced on the floor of the Parliament that his party will conduct a torchlit march on Friday afternoon. Vona said that while he was sure the governing Fidesz and Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) coalition would send provocateurs to disrupt the protest, this would not prevent Jobbik’s “peaceful awareness-raising” demonstration.
Calling ÁSZ ’s conduct “unprecedented” in Europe, Vona accused Orbán of being a “corrupt tyrant” and called for the resignation of the ÁSZ president, former Fidesz MP László Domokos.
“Four months before the election he tries to ruin, clear away, destroy the strongest party of the opposition and the sole force capable of changing the government,” Vona, the Jobbik founder, chairman, and parliamentary delegation head, said. “In this way he tries to close the shutters of democracy and reach his long-cherished dream of achieving a de facto dictatorship in Hungary.”
Vona called on the prime minister to withdraw the ÁSZ procedure, warning that he would “be better off doing so.”
Undersecretary of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office Dömötör Csaba replied by invoking Fidesz’s oft used mantra, namely that everyone must abide by the law. According to Dömötör, Jobbik had become engulfed in a “very nasty corruption scandal” when they “tangled up with an oligarch”, a not too subtle reference to former Fidesz ally Simicska, who has been expressing his open support of Jobbik lately.