Public opinion rejects foreign funding of election campaigns in Hungary

Sixty-two percent of Hungarians consider it unacceptable for domestic politicians and political parties to accept, directly or indirectly, significant campaign support from abroad, from foreign organizations, or from billionaires, according to the latest opinion poll by Századvég. The survey examined Hungarians’ views on foreign campaign support for domestic political actors in the context of the fact that Mindenki Magyarországa Mozgalom, which is linked to the former candidate for prime minister, Péter Márki-Zay, received significant overseas financial donations in connection with the campaign for the April parliamentary elections.

Billions of foreign campaign funds landed on the left

As a starting point, it is important to note that

in Hungary the law on the operation and management of parties prohibits parties from accepting financial contributions from foreign organizations and non-Hungarian citizens and prohibits the granting of anonymous donations.

The legal policy justification for these provisions is the exclusion of foreign attempts to influence Hungarian elections and the prevention of foreign interest groups from buying domestic influence of a political nature.

It raises concerns that Péter Márki-Zay stated in August that even months after the April parliamentary elections, the US-based organization Action for Democracy transferred hundreds of millions of forints in subsidies to the bank account of Mindenki Magyarországa Mozgalom (MMM), led by the politician from Hódmezővásárhely, with the help of which "the last bills of the campaign" were paid. Furthermore, the itemised settlement published later by MMM reveals that the organization accepted a total of HUF 1.86 billion in US dollar donations, the origin of which is unknown. It shows the public significance of the campaign finance incident that according to the research of Századvég,

71 percent of those surveyed heard that the former candidate for prime minister of the left and Mindenki Magyarországa Mozgalom received nearly HUF 2 billion in financial support from foreign, primarily American, organizations during the period around the election campaign.

Population says no to foreign-origin campaign subsidies

Although Márki-Zay's movement operates in the form of an association (therefore, it is not subject to the strict campaign finance rules applicable to parties), there are several indications that the former candidate for prime minister tried to circumvent the legal provisions by using the form of association. Márki-Zay — in addition to his statement above, in which he admitted that campaign bills had been paid from the foreign donation in question — explained in May that there was an MMM account that served to run the central campaign, and "of course there were candidates whom we supported from that."  In other words,

there is a suspicion that the foreign funds prohibited by law for the six-party left-wing alliance were accepted by the Mindenki Magyarországa Mozgalom, led by Péter Márki-Zay, and then – bypassing the legal prohibition – channelled it into the left's election campaign under the guise of the form of association.

Regardless of the legal assessment of the issue or the possible legal consequences, it can be stated that the majority of Hungarian voters are clearly opposed to the idea of financing domestic political forces from abroad. The survey conducted by Századvég points out that

nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of the respondents consider it unacceptable for Hungarian parties and politicians to accept significant campaign support from abroad, from foreign economic or political organizations, or from billionaires, directly or indirectly.


CATI method, n=1000, among the adult Hungarian population, data collection: September 2022

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Successful subscription!

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Cookie settings