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Some opposition-led councils to act to force removal of propaganda ads

“Stop Soros” and opposition-smearing billboards in Budapest on February 6, 2018. | Photo: Budapest Beacon/Balázs Pivarnyik

Opposition-controlled municipal councils might have found a legal way of freeing their municipalities from the government’s hate-mongering propaganda billboards, reports 444.hu.

Last week, Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) mayor of Budapest’s 19th district Péter Gajda sent a letter to advertisement space owners operating in the district informing the companies that according to a recently adopted council resolution the placement of hate-mongering and inciting advertising is prohibited in the district as of January 1, 2018.

By way of illustration, Gajda attached two pro-Fidesz leaflets, one smearing American financier and philanthropist George Soros and another the political opposition as examples of the kind of political propaganda that will not be permitted in the future. In the letter, Gajda proposed that if the advertisers do not remove the hate-mongering advertisements, the council will remove these ads and revoke the advertising rights of the offending companies.

On Wednesday, Democratic Coalition (DK) mayor of Budapest’s 15th district László Hajdu told 444.hu that he had proposed a modification of the public space use resolution to the general assembly that includes the banning of hate-mongering advertisements in the district. However, the success of mayor Hajdu’s initiative is questionable given the large number of Fidesz assemblymen on the 15th district council. Last year, Hajdu even faced disciplinary procedures backed by the MSZP member of the general assembly as well.

Banning hate-mongering and incitement to violence on a municipal level would not be necessary, as such advertising is prohibited by the Criminal Code of Hungary. However, according to a lawyer consulted by the Budapest Beacon, no matter how tasteless are the government propaganda advertisements, so long as they do not present a clear and present danger to anybody they cannot be considered hate speech. The lawyer added that the contemplated ban on government advertisements might constitute a limitation on the freedom of free speech.


Balázs Pivarnyik :