Police end investigation into election office scandal

August 18, 2016

Fidesz MP István Nyakó
Socialist MP István Nyakó

“This simply means that police and prosecutors will do nothing in the future if somebody is threatened by muscle-bound enforcers and prevented from practicing their constitutional rights.” – István Nyakó, MSZP politician

Hungarian police have ended their investigation into obstruction by off-duty security guards of Hungarian Socialist Party (Magyar Szocialista Párt – MSZP) politician István Nyakó, who was trying to time-stamp his Sunday store closure referendum application at the National Election Office in February. The document issuing the police decree was made public by Hungarian news website 444.hu.

Security camera footage from February 23 shows muscle-bound men dressed in black crowded into the vestibule where the time-clock was located. Their presence was an obvious attempt to prevent Nyakó from being the first to submit a referendum question on the Sunday shopping ban. It did not take long for Hungarian media, using social media, to identify several individuals as employees of a Fidesz-linked security company.

election

After the incident, the Socialist politician and 21 other civilians filed a complaint, but six months later police have ruled that no crime was committed. However, according to 444.hu, the only thing police investigated was whether Nyakó could enter the gates of the National Election Office and submit his question. What they failed to examine was whether the skinheads prevented him from submitting his question first.

According to police, the fact that Nyakó was able to submit his question proves that his constitutional rights were not violated (even though the obstruction made him second in line and thus his efforts were in vain, since the new electoral law states that only one referendum question can be examined at one time).

Interestingly, Hungary’s highest court, the Curia, later found that the skinheads deliberately blocked Nyakó. Within weeks the high court validated Nyakó’s question, which, in turn, prompted the government to repeal the unpopular Sunday store closure law rather than face a referendum.

“A frightening and abominable message”

At a press conference, the Socialist MP called the decision of the police “a frightening and abominable message” for every Hungarian.

“This simply means that police and prosecutors will do nothing in the future if somebody is threatened by muscle-bound enforcers and prevented from practicing their constitutional rights,” he added.

Nyakó believes the investigation against the skinheads was sabotaged at the orders of Fidesz for months. He also thinks the whole case is connected to business circles close to the governing party, such as Gábor Kubatov whom the prosecutors don’t want to meddle with.  In addition to being the vice-president of the governing Fidesz party, Kubatov is the president of Ferencvaros football club that employed a number of the off-duty security guards present at the election office.

Incidentally, a few days after the scandal, civil activist Márton Gulyás went to the National Election Office and pried its sign off the exterior wall of the building to symbolize the destruction of the rule of law and democracy in Hungary.  He was promptly arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced to one year’s probation — all within the span of one month.