Hungary's football-loving PM faces corruption scandal

Some of Viktor Orbán's private trips to sporting matches were partly financed by a businessman who has won several public procurement tenders. While similar issues in other countries have led to scandal, in Hungary, many do not seem to mind.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava
Hungary's football-loving PM faces corruption scandal - NewsMavens
Viktor Orban. Wikicommons.

Why this story matters:

The state of a democracy can be measured in several ways but one of the most telling aspects is the attitude towards corruption. And it is a definite red flag when a significant part of the population becomes indifferent to political misdeeds.

This is the case now in Hungary and it is not first the time. It turns out that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's trips on a private plane to see football matches were financed by the well-known businessman, István Garancsi, who has won several public procurement tenders.

Not much happened after the news was broken by atlatszo.hu, an investigative news site and the PM’s spokesperson did not bother to deny the findings when asked for a comment by Népszava.

Analysts argue that this response is a sign that the PM is so sure of his impunity -- with most mechanisms of power under his government's control -- that he is not afraid of the truth.

It is hard to imagine that he could face any consequences for these acts without the weight of public pressure. This public censure can be a powerful weapon though: Christian Wuff, the former German president, had to resign after several corruption allegations, one of which was that he let Air Berlin upgrade his reservations to business class free of charge. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli PM, is still in office, but there are also several corruption cases pending against him. One of the most notorious involves a Hollywood producer, who gave the family precious "gifts” in return for favours.

There have been similar cases of public outcry bringing down corrupt officials in Slovenia, Portugal and Japan -- the list is long. But whether Hungary will ever be on it remains to be seen.

Details from the story:

  • Viktor Orbán used a Bombardier Global 6000 plane for the trips in question. He went to see Mol Vidi FC football matches abroad. The owner of the football club is István Garancsi.
  • It remains unknown how many times the PM used the plane to see Mol Vidi since Garancsi is the owner. Although Népszava asked Orbán’s spokesperson about it, he never replied.
  • One of Garancsi’s businesses, Market Zrt. won almost 70 billion HUF through public procurement tenders.
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