When Hungarians picked up their ballots to vote in April’s national elections, more than half of their 23 choices were parties they’d never heard of. The familiar players — Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling right-wing Fidesz party and the far-right Jobbik — were there, along with, yes, the Two-Tailed Dog Party, known for its community projects but also for not only promised to fill the capital’s streets with beer to end traffic jams, but also plastered signs around Budapest calling for eternal life plus 20 years for all Hungarians. But what about the “Party for a Sporty and Healthy Hungary,” “Poor People for Hungary,” and “The Party for All Poor People?” Along with 11 more, they have no website, no campaign materials — and no real intention to win votes. They’re called “fake parties,” and they’re not aspiring victory. Hungarian police are investigating some 100 cases of suspected election fraud by parties that appear to have been created shortly before the 2014 elections to cash in on lucrative campaign subsidies. But experts say that those parties aren’t just formed to siphon campaign money. They’re helping Orban cement his hold on power.
The European Parliament voted in September to pursue disciplinary action against Hungary, and possibly revoke its EU voting rights, in part over its increasingly flawed electoral system.
The boom of fake parties stems from Hungary’s 2013 election system reform spearheaded by the ruling Fidesz party, according to analysts. That package gives generous subsidies — hundreds of thousands of euros — to newly established parties, provided they meet a few requirements.
Suddenly, a lot of Hungarians discovered an interest in politics. More
Full Article: Fake Parties, Real Money: Hungary’s Bogus Party Problem.