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Hungary's Jobbik party says fine risks making it insolvent ahead of 2018 vote

Hungary's Jobbik party says fine risks making it insolvent ahead of 2018 vote
From Reuters - December 7, 2017

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungarys main opposition party would be unable to compete at an election next April if state auditors impose a heavy fine in a campaign finance case, a vice chairman for the nationalist Jobbik party told Reuters on Thursday.

The party, which was once on the far right but has moved toward the center in recent years, lags far behind the ruling party Fidesz, according to opinion polls.

The case could hurt Jobbiks bid to take the political center ground from the populist and nativist Fidesz party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has ruled Hungary since 2010.

Jobbik should pay a fine of 331 million forints ($1.24 million), equal to a price advantage it received illegally for a billboard campaign. Its annual state subsidy should also be cut by the same sum as a penalty, the auditors said on Wednesday in a preliminary finding.

Jobbik denies wrongdoing and has 15 days to respond to the findings. The auditor, called ASZ, will deliver a final ruling in a few weeks and Jobbik would then have to pay the fine even if it challenges the decision in court.

The penalties are more than Jobbiks 476 million forint annual state subsidy, which is the partys largest source of funding as it receives only small contributions from donors, Jobbik vice chairman Janos Volner said.

This case has been so absurd that anything is possible, he said, adding that the inquiry could be a pretext to try to dissolve the party. They will shake us down for every last penny we have, he told Reuters by phone.

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