Socialists make an offer Fidesz can't refuse

The Socialist Party (MSZP) decided to endorse Fidesz’s bill to ban political outdoor media advertisements out of the election campaign season. This was the outcome of the five-party roundtable meeting summoned by Fidesz to discuss the bill. MSZP presented their deal made with the government party nicely wrapped up in a sizeable legislation package.

Among other things, the bill suggests allocating outdoor media space to parties in a proportionate way during the campaign period, registering all campaign ads and banning “campaigning from the taxpayers’ money”. (Come to think of it, how else could any political party finance its advertising campaigns than from the taxpayers’ money?)

Nicely hidden among MSZP’s proposals, you can find a nearly verbatim copy of Fidesz’ earlier bill to ban outdoor media ads out of the campaign season, which just failed in Parliament last Wednesday as it could not gather the necessary support of two thirds of all MPs.

The Socialist proposal goes like this:
“Outside the election campaign period defined by the act on electoral procedure it is forbidden to publish and display any posters or signs communicating messages capable of politically influencing voters’ intentions or the attempt thereof in order to promote or urge to support any party, political movement or public authority, especially the government or a local council, on outdoor media devices specifically designed to carry advertisements (hereinafter: outdoor advertisement carriers) and vehicles facilitating public passenger transport services.”

So, what happened was that MSZP copied the outdoor media bill originally submitted by Fidesz, a political party that tramples upon law to restrict the freedom of speech in a way unheard of in the past 27 years, and then wrapped it in a nice, tasteful façade of likeable proposals to promote “clean elections”.

Typically enough, Socialist MP Bertalan Tóth and Fidesz MP Lajos Kósa both kept silent about this part of the legislation package in their press conference held after the meeting. Contrary to that, Jobbik’s parliamentary faction leader János Volner was talking about “one of the most obvious and blatant political pacts since the democratization of Hungary”.

Pointing out that the outdoor media market was the only type of media showing some political balance instead of an overwhelming Fidesz dominance, he added that “MSZP has just helped Viktor Orbán to dominate this type of media as well”. He asserted that the Socialist bill posed no restrictions on the government party’s media dominance, so it just did Fidesz a favour. As Mr Volner put it, “MSZP betrayed leftist voters and became unworthy to represent people with leftist ideas”.  The politician noted that Fidesz was “explicitly enthusiastic” about the Socialist bill.


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