Die Presse: Will the Elios case influence the Hungarian elections?

Austrian conservative daily Die Presse summarises the Elios-case, the corruption scandal in which even the prime minister’s son-in-law can be involved.

Die Presse notes that the government has so far managed to overshadow the opposition’s corruption charges by pressing the topic of migration, but now the EU’s anti-corruption body discovered systematic abuse of EU funds in public tenders won by a company called Elios, which was partially owned by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s son-in-law, Istvan Tiborcz, at the investigated period.

OLAF can’t start procedures itself, so it recommended the European Commission to reclaim 43 million euros from Hungary for the misused EU funds, and the Hungarian Prosecutor’s Office to start a procedure. The office followed this advice, but warned that it can take years. Die Presse reminds that the establishment of the EU Prosecutor’s Office would fill this legal gap, but Hungary – according to its critics, to avoid punishment – doesn’t want to join it.

The article points out that while the opposition and its media is shooting at Tiborcz, pro-government newspaper Magyar Idok tried to put the blame on billionaire Lajos Simicska, Orban’s former confidee who was a majority owner of Elios at that time. Following a deep disagreement, Simicska broke his friendship with Orban in 2014 and is said to financially support the strongest opposition party, Jobbik – Die Presse writes. Their correspondent, Boris Kalnoky notes that from an international perspective it doesn’t make a big difference who was more involved in the fraud.

The big question is, according to Kalnoky, whether this case has enough potential to influence the parliamentary elections in April. Currently Fidesz is leading the polls and might even expect another two-thirds majority. Kalnoky notes that the opposition’s situation is not easy, as the socialists were cheating themselves too between 2002-2010 and the corruption case around the Metro 4 project is much bigger than the 43 millions reclaimed in the Elios case. According to Kalnoky, only Jobbik is “clean”, because the party – which used to be extreme right but now seems to be moderate – has never been in government. He also notes that Jobbik is openly supported by Simicska, who had an important role in Elios.

Hungary Journal

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