Corruption Monitor - Summary from March 2020 to March 2022

In Hungary, the erosion of the constitutional state and the elevation of corruption to the status of a public policy tool are happening simultaneously, in close connection with each other, mostly hidden behind some alleged public interest objective. In the last two years, this alleged public interest objective has been to control the pandemic. K-Monitor and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union have been documenting this process since the start of the pandemics. The summary and final report of this work covers the period from March 2020 to March 2022. In our report, we present the most significant changes in the last two years that have increased opacity and hampered the fight against corruption, budgetary irregularities, the outsourcing of public assets and measures that disproportionately affect opposition municipalities.

In the past two years, while the coronavirus has claimed more than 45,000 lives in Hungary, we have seen the following trends:

1. Lack of transparency has increased, making it more difficult to fight corruption, including:

    • non-transparent management of the pandemic;

    • amending the definition of public funds;

    • a significant increase in the number of non-public government decrees; and

    • creation of the Concession Council.

    2. Public spending on the pandemic was non-transparent and unsustainable due to:

    - the creation of a huge deficit and runaway inflation;

    - the increasing difficulty in obtaining a clear and comprehensive picture of public spending as a whole;

    - the lack of anti-corruption commitments which has prevented Hungary from receiving EU funds;

    - clientele close to the NER which has been able to profit from both pandemic procurements and traditional public procurements; and

    - meanwhile, the state’s lavish support of its own knowledge centres with tourism funds, with a significant part of the subsidies for tourism development going to the clientele

    3. Entire sectors have fallen into FIDESZ-allied hands:

      • by outsourcing higher education and certain public social services to public trust funds (”KEKVA’s”);

      • with large amounts of wealth allocated to church institutions; and

      • important sectors have been given to pro-government businessmen, while the Government itself has tried to push foreign investors out of Hungary by breaking the rules of fair competition.

      4. The government has taken revenue from municipalities on the grounds of pandemic control, and then selectively rewarded municipalities run by pro-government administration

      5. Decisions and revenues belonging to opposition-led municipalities were transferred to county assemblies with a governing- party majority by the creation of special commercial zones.

      6. Public positions of power have been privatised, Deputy Minister of Justice Pál Völner is suspected of making the filling of independent court bailiff posts conditional on bribes.

      Corruption Monitor - Summary from March 2020 to March 2022

      donwload »

      Share

      Related articles

      HCLU's analysis of the seventh amendment of the Fundamental Law

      The seven-year-old Fundamental Law of Hungary has been amended for the seventh time. Any amendment of the Fundamental Law should theoretically be based on a broad political consensus because a constitution does not reflect the majority’s will, but instead provides a legal framework for a government gaining majority via any democratic election to implement their political commitments. An ideal constitution provides for the possibility to govern according to different ideologies and defines the clear limits of governance that shall not be transgressed.

      Why was the search of the whistleblower’s home unlawful?

      In November, 2013 András Horváth, former staff member of the Hungarian National Tax and Customs Administration turned to the public with his information on companies committing VAT fraud with the assistance of the National Tax and Customs Administration (NAV). The whistleblower decided to seek publicity after several unsuccessful attempts to raise the issue within the Administration and the government. The revelations resulted in huge media coverage and created an unresolved political scandal ever since.

      Legal defense in a deteriorating rule of law

      Today constitutional democracy is shrinking in Hungary. Rule of law institutions, which normally should protect the rights of the individual against the state are less and less able to fulfill this objective. Using its two-third majority in Parliament, the government has dismantled, weakened or conquered these institutions to protect its power instead of the rights of the citizens.