Summer holiday at Lake Balaton? Charming autumn city break in Budapest? Be aware that the corrupt clientele of the Orbán regime is branching out to tourism. They own hotels and restaurants around the most popular destinations. Don’t feed kleptocrats and don’t support oligarchs usurping both Hungarian and EU taxpayers’ money. Hungarian anti-corruption NGO K-Monitor is now fundraising for a tool, that facilitates conscious consumer choices.
In the past eight years, Viktor Orbán’s System of National Cooperation (NER) was characterized by extreme clientelism and the erosion of citizens’ rights to exert control over the government. By the summer of 2018, previously market-based economic sectors (such as the bank or service sector, or the media) have been taken over by newly arisen, government-friendly tycoons, who built their empire with the help of pre-arranged procurements and numerous state interventions. This process is well illustrated by the way the Prime Minister’s immediate circle, headed by Orbán’s homeboy, Lőrinc Mészáros and István Tiborcz, Orbán’s son in law, have expanded their interests in the region of Lake Balaton.
LAKE BALATON, or as it is often referred to, the “Hungarian sea,” is the biggest lake in Central Europe, and serves as a widely popular holiday destination. As many still can’t afford a holiday abroad, a great number of people opt for a more affordable Balaton-destination each summer. It is in this region where Mészáros and Tiborcz have been investing their dubiously-acquired billions, buying off hotels, camping resorts, and ports, with the latest purchase being Club Aliga. During the Socialist Era, the resort used to be the most famous holiday center of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, and it is still a highly valuable property today. Now under new management.
Hungarian Communist leader Janos Kadar and Fidel Castro during a boat trip - Librarius)
Needless to say, these deals are strongly supported by the Hungarian government. Until 2020, they are set to spend approximately 1.1 billion EUR on tourism development in the region, coming from EU and state funds. While it’s yet to be seen how the area will change as a result of these developments, and whether it will remain the affordable holiday destination it is today, it’s clear that fighting against systematic corruption will have to become an essential part of any Balaton holiday, for Hungarians and foreigners alike. Cronies are openly entering all spheres of life, forcing us to look for new ways of resistance. A couple months ago, while guests of an international human rights conference were enjoying their dinner at a restaurant owned by one of the NER-tycoons, we decided to launch a new project. In our corruption/public funds database, we started collecting all articles reporting on the rising clientele within the tourism sector, supported by protectionist permissions and various concessions.
A wide range of cases have seen the light of day: there’s hotel chains bought off by politically connected businessmen who made their fortune off of government projects, places abruptly taken over by patrons, properties owned by local governments, sold/rented way below price point and then turned into hotels, as well as countryside apartments built with the help of EU funds, which are then used solely for private purposes. To give you a taste of this extraordinary shift of power, we decided draw the map the so-called HOTEL OLIGARCHs. We are also going to introduce a user-friendly tool summing up ownership connections for those who would like to boycott this acutely harmful form of expansion. Check out this map to see what we’re talking about!
Okay, let's avoid their places! What can I do?
If you’re visiting Hungary or are living here and don’t want to support the Orbán regime’s corrupt clientele, follow the project and support our efforts. To be able to design a cutting-edge, reliable, user-friendly tool for corruption-conscious Hungarians and foreigners, we need 1,000,000 HUF (3000 EUR).
This amount covers the fee of accessing data from the company registry, the costs of IT development and hosting, and would ensure that we do not have to make any compromises when it comes to the quality of our project. With many successful technological projects behind us, we can guarantee that, as a result, thousands of people will learn about the ways oligarchs are capturing the tourism sector in Hungary, as well as fight against this process.
Donate the price of a delicious Balaton-style hake (~6 EUR, but, you know, it might be 16 EUR next summer…) and support the initiative !
Please, share this post if you’d like others to be conscious consumers too!
Club Aliga. On the left: Lőrinc Mészáros, who became the richest man in Hungary under the patronage of Mr. Orbán.
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