June 15th, 2017

Gov’t bill on campaign billboards fails as opposition votes together

The government bill seeking to prevent all political advertisements on billboards outside of the official campaign period failed to receive the two-thirds majority needed to pass. The bill also stipulated that in the campaign period, all political players should be charged the same for the use of advertising surfaces. The bill had been proposed by leader of the Fidesz party’s parliamentary group, Lajos Kósa, together with three other Fidesz MPs, who claimed that the proposal aimed to thwart covert attempts by “billionaires trying to influence Hungarian politics” and to ensure transparency.

Green LMP’s co-leader Ákos Hadházy told the press after the decision that LMP had voted against the bill because it had nothing in common with LMP’s original proposal. The party’s original bill submitted in April this year would have completely banned billboard advertising by state-owned companies and institutions, and would have expanded the bill to include all forms of advertising.

Socialist group leader Bertalan Tóth welcomed the outcome of the parliamentary vote, saying that if the law had passed this would have left a loophole open for the government and the local authority to circumvent the ban, since the pro-government Civil Unity Forum CÖF and Fidesz youth arm Fidelitas would not have not been covered by the law.

János Volner, group leader ofJobbik, said that Fidesz had lost an important battle. Jobbik has maintained an antigovernment billboard campaign with the backing of Lajos Simicska, a onetime friend of the prime minister’s and a former key figure of the Fidesz party. The construction magnate and media mogul has fallen out with Viktor Orbán and the Fidesz party. The ruling party is “scared to death” that the opposition could win and they would be held accountable for “stealing left and right”, Volner said.

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