The State Audit Office (ÁSZ) has ordered opposition parties fined for allegedly accepting illegal campaign contributions in the form of discounted services to submit action plans guaranteeing their lawful management in the future, reports pro-government daily Magyar Idők.
The parties fined in December 2017 for alleged prohibited campaign finance were given 30 days from receiving ÁSZ’s report to prepare an action plan addressing the purported irregularities. State Audit Office secretary general Magdolna Holman told Magyar Idők that the deadline expires in the upcoming days.
Holman noted that parties that fail to submit the action plan in time might lose eligibility for public funds. She said “the era of ÁSZ inspections without consequences” had closed with the adoption in 2011 of Hungary’s new constitution , the Fundamental Law, and subsequent legislation affecting the work of the State Audit Office.
Magyar Idők reports that the action plans are significant in that ÁSZ might conduct follow-up inspections to check whether the fined parties executed the provisions of their respective plans.
The State Audit Office fines on opposition parties for the alleged reason were unprecedented. The penalties ranged from HUF 5 million in the case of Együtt (which is not in parliament) to HUF 500 million for Hungary’s largest opposition party, Jobbik. Although the the government office responsible for collecting fines has given the parties until after the April 8 general election to pay up, the penalties represent a serious blow to a political opposition that finds itself largely excluded from the public and state-run media in the run-up to the election.