Loss for secretive political parties at court – Win for transparency of political party funding

Parties of the Parliament have been ordered to disclose how much credit has been given to them by the state. They also have to make public which real estate properties have been acquired for their operations.

The HCLU and Figyelő (Hungarian printed and online news service) took the secretive Hungarian political parties to court, in order to find out the conditions and the spending surrounding credits funded by the Hungarian Development Bank.

In 2007, the MPs were in total agreement in giving political parties the opportunity to buy office space they were currently renting with the financial support of the state through the Hungarian Development Bank. All but one (MDF - Hungarian Democratic Party) of the HCLU’s and Figyelő’s enquiries went unanswered, citing bank and business secrets.

We have come across some interesting reasoning behind the denials: according to the MSZP (Hungarian Socialist Party), the requested data is convenient for ’misuse by people with bad intentions’ and would serve as a base for ’defamation campaigns against certain officials’ and political terrorism. The KDNP (Christian Democratic People’s Party), among other reasons, denied access to the data due to their exceptionally thrifty financial management, and having only 1 (one) paid employee. FIDESZ (Hungarian Civic Union) did not answer the data request at all and did not feel obligated to attend the court hearing.

On December 3rd, 2009, the Capital Court accepted the HCLU’s reasoning and ruled that the requested data must be made public, due to the funding being credited and guaranteed by the state and the property acquired by the parties by state funding belongs to the state. The Capital Court’s decision also states that transparency of political funding overrules bank secrets.

The HCLU considers today’s ruling to be an important step in paving the road to transparency of taxpayers’ money connected to political parties. Unfortunately, we would not be surprised in case our politicians decide to appeal the Capital Court’s decision…

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