Jobbik’s billboards may be dismantled

After having Jobbik’s posters removed by government agency staff, the next stage of the outdoor media war may actually involve town councils dismantling the support structures as well, the opposition party says. This idea was raised by pro-government daily Magyar Idők, suggesting that Jobbik did not have a so-called usage permit for public area, and if you want to set up any kind of structure in a territory other than your own, you must get the permission of the owner.

As Jobbik spokesman Péter Jakab informed Magyar Nemzet, several Budapest district councils had already warned that the party had to request such permissions from them. The list of these councils included Districts 10, 16, 17 and 21. The party’s lawyers are now examining if these warnings had “any legal grounds”. Mr Jakab explained that they had to look into the matter because “authoritarian states tend to execute measures that do not comply with the legal regulations”. In explanation, he mentioned that government agency staff had already removed many of the party’s posters without any legal grounds at all.

The opposition party claims that the government uses authoritarian measures to silence them

The spokesman told the media that Hungary had no uniform national regulation on usage permits for public areas; the local councils had issued their own decrees on the matter and the party’s lawyers had always considered the local regulations to make sure that their outdoor media messages could be displayed.

“It is quite clear that Fidesz cannot bear the truth: after the government agencies, the prosecutor’s office and the State Audit Office, now they have employed the local councils to silence us,” Mr Jakab said. As he put it, if the rule of law were intact, they would not have to worry about their posters being removed but “in an authoritarian state like the Orbán regime, anything can happen”.

Magyar Nemzet was also informed that Jobbik had not bought new posters on top of the 1100 ones they had purchased earlier. Mr Jakab said the negotiations were going on but “the way the government enforces the law involves many factors of uncertainty,” in other words, there was no rule of law, which had made negotiations very difficult in their experience.

Other parties also suffer from the government’s outdoor media policy. Yesterday Together Party announced that, of 100  outdoor media outlets, only 25-30 were practically available for opposition parties. So the party is now looking to submit the case of “Fidesz’ regulation gravely curbing the freedom of competition, expression and speech” to the EU’s competition authority.

 

The printed version of this article was published in daily Magyar Nemzet. Date of publication: November 3, 2017

Mariann Katona / Magyar Nemzet - Jobbik.com