Hungarian government accused of illegally funding political party for ethnic kin in Romania

History

The Hungarian government is accused of disregarding Romanian law by using state-owned companies and institutions to finance political parties serving that country’s ethnic Hungarian minority, Hungarian-language portal Transindex.ro reported. Transindex found that state-controlled Hungarian institutions such as MVM Hungarian Electricity, the Hungarian Development Bank, and Hungarian National Asset Management channeled roughly €1 million to newly-established civil society groups whose founders and staff members are either close associates or political candidates of the Hungarian People’s Party of Transylvania (Erdélyi Magyar Néppárt). Activists from the Hungarian National Council of Transylvania, under the leadership of MEP László Tőkés, helped establish the party in 2011 as a rival to existing ethnic Hungarian political organizations. Romanian campaign financing regulations prohibit foreign funding of domestic political parties. Zsolt Németh, state secretary at Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Friday denied the allegations, saying that Hungary “respects Romania’s laws” regarding political financing. According to Németh, all official funding from Hungary to Transylvania is used for providing assistance to the region’s Hungarian minority. Meanwhile, the Conservative Party of Romania has alerted the Romanian electoral authorities of the investigation’s conclusions. According to Transindex, its report was published with financial assistance from Freedom House Romania, the local unit of the US-funded rights group, as well as the US State Department and the French Embassy in Bucharest.

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