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Campaign Watch Hungary: Don't/Do Negative Campaign! UPDATED

by DoDo Tue Jan 10th, 2006 at 02:25:30 PM EST

Last time, I promised some dirt on the Socialists, but the latest ridiculous scandal that's just in again concerns the right... at least as the evidence stands today. (But kind of turned on its head a day later - see addition below the fold.)

Prelude: the President of the Republic (a largely ceremonial post here) tells in his New Years' Address in unusually clear tones that he doesn't wish negative campaign. All parties, including the right-populist main opposition party Fidesz, vow to abide.

One day later: the country is plastered full of giant posters depicting the (Socialist Party) PM on an image reminding of mafia films, with the text "Whom Nothing I$ Too Expen$ive" written over it.

In small letters, the posters are credited to the new rabidly anti-government tabloid Magyar Vizsla, which is published by an NGO for free. This NGO - despite personal and business ties - claims to be independent of Fidesz (and thus not part of its campaign, which would be under financial oversight and some limitations).

And the scandal breaks: yesterday (Sunday) a leader of the Socialists holds a press conference, showing fax images sent to the newspaper distributor with instructions - from the telephone address of the Fidesz campaign boss.

The first Fidesz response: The instant reply from the alleged sender was that this fax is a forgery, because on the said day, he was abroad and the Fidesz offices were closed.

The second Fidesz response: A day later, no talk of forgery or closed offices. Now they say that the fax was sent by a worker of the printer, who was in the party headquarters on the occasion of another job, one for Fidesz, and asked his opposite to use the fax for the Magyar Vizsla job too...

(...and all the public discourse is about such idiocies - for example, although the President of the Republic was the candidate of the Right, the local far-right - part of which had enough of being under Fidesz's umbrella half a year ago - attacked him for holding a New Years' Address without flag in the background...)

Update [2006-1-10 14:25:30 by DoDo]: Another day later, we saw the second Fidesz version reinforced: by the printer company (which has ties to both main parties). There were only four people in the Fidesz headquarters at the time, to discuss a Fidesz direct-mailing programme. The representative of the printer company was asked via phone while there, to fax that stuff - and used an older fax of the campaign office moved to the lobby.

Now, on one hand, the question became: who sent a copy to the MSzP (Socialists)? On the other hand, the MSzP got itself full-swing into exploiting the scandal - the leader who was accused of forgery played indignant, while some party activists quickly put out (illegal) placards spoofing the Fidesz and Magyar Vizsla placards.

After a full 48-hour knock-out, the Fidesz media braintrust also got itself into full swing - and found the right damage limitation: one Fidesz leader (a member of the leading cabal, hence this is not an internal division) declared that the previous apology is not enough, Fidesz should apologise personally to the MSzP leader accused of forgery.


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