Quick Look

Képmutatás, which means "hypocrisy" in Hungarian, advocates for more transparency in campaign financing in Hungary.

Beginning Date: 
April 1, 2008
Project Scale: 
Types of Tools: 
Specific Tools: 


Képmutatás is a joint initiative by Freedom House Europe and Transparency International Hungary to bring more transparency and accountability to party- and campaign financing in Hungary. 

The word “képmutatás” means “hypocrisy” in Hungarian and, indeed, the current state of party- and campaign financing in Hungary and the position of all parliamentary parties on the issue today is nothing if not hypocritical. While parties profess their desire to clean up the current system and eliminate the corrupt practices surrounding it, they continue spend as much as ten times the legal limit on their campaigns, abuse state and municipal resources for their campaigns, raise funds through illegal channels and spend money in ways that are incompatible with the word, as well as the spirit of the law.

This joint initiative seeks to estimate the true amount that parties spend on campaigns by analyzing and estimating their likely expenses. It also incorporates the analysis and policy recommendations developed by the Eötvös Károly Institute, and the lessons learned from their own earlier attempts to exert pressure on parliamentary parties to arrive at a consensus on campaign finance reform.

(An interview - in Hungarian - with Hortobágyi Emese, Project Manager at Transparency International Hungary, is available here.)


What problem is your project aiming to overcome?: 

Currently the legal limit of campaign expenditure is 386 million HUF. The current law cannot be followed, as it is impossible to conduct a successful political campaign with this amount of money if you look at typical costs. We aim to document the actual amount of money spent by parties on their campaigns and define how much do exceed the legal limitations. We need to finally see the actual costs of a campaign! 

What are the roots of that problem?: 

The parties are not transparent whatsoever, and it becomes impossible to learn about the sources of their financial support or about the actual expenses. Citizens have every right to know all of this, since those parties function on their money. They enforce the law, they rule the country, but we are unable to know the actual amount of money behind their work, which becomes a huge problem. Our project has no means to map out the actual system of financial support of our parties, or to monitor the expenses. Our aim is to shift the attention of the public to the faulty system and to put pressure on the parties to force them to change the current law related to expenses on political campaigns. Transparency International together with Freedom House Europe and The Eötvös Károly Institute has prepared a proposal of an adjustment in law, which was sadly not approved by the Parliament in February. We hope that this topic will stay on a daily agenda and that it will lead to an actual change of law.

How many people work on your project?: 
How many hours a week do you personally spend on the project?: 

There are a few organisations involved in this project - Transparency International Hungary, Freedom House and The Eötvös Károly Institute. Many people work on this project; each organisation has a co-ordinator, who collects the data. We also have many volunteers in the countryside, as it is a national project. There are about 30 volunteers helping us.

How many hours does the whole team spend on the project?: 

On a daily basis we need about 4 hrs to analyze, prepare and upload the data we are receiving. It means 20 hrs a week, which is a lot.

What are the most time consuming tasks?: 

The most consuming task is to collect the data coming from different sources and spot duplicated cases. We receive data on parties activities within a political campaign from a company watching the news, as well as expenditure on advertisement and press articles. (How many events those parties hold? How many ads do they order from a daily newspaper? etc.)

What has been the most effective method of spreading awareness about your project?: 

We do our best to make www.kepmutatas.hu more and more user friendly, so we decided for simple graphics to enable anyone to follow the increase of campaign expenses per party. From the main page one can navigate over to check specific details of campaigns and browse around as they want.

Many checked the data appearing on the main page. We have received both positive, as well as negative feedback, but overall we have achieved our goal to engage people in the topic. The data that appears on the main site is a pure estimate, which we aim to clarify as much as possible with specialists, but it is very difficult to be 100% accurate, if we can't be sure about the amounts parties are spending, and especially if we have no idea how much money they have to spend in the first place. We do our best to promote our project in wide circles, in press releases; we collate all current updates to share on the website and blog [HU] of Transparency International Hungary, as well as by publishing in various social media platforms where we also call for attention. Luckily in times of political campaigns the press was really interested in our campaign. In my opinion many were watching how parties spend their money. I believe we managed to raise awareness with by monitoring campaigns. Hopefully parties also feel the public pressure and will accept a proposal of changes in campaign finance law shortly.

What other organizations are you working with?: 

The Freedom House – NGO established in 1941 fighting for development of democracy and human right globally. This organisation’s European office is based in Budapest.

The Eötvös Károly Instutute was established in January 2003 to build a new, modern form of development of democratic Hungarian public life. The Institute aims to work with others (lawyers, NGOs and other organisations) together to contribute to the professional information flow within public sphere, to develop methodology around issues affecting quality of relationship between the citizens and governing bodies.

Has there been any communication between your project and government officials?: 

Within the project we managed to establish relationships with mainstream media. It led journalists and editors to ask the parties to disclose the expenses of their campaigns. Sadly this did not happen. The parties did not answer those questions.

Have there been any attempts to replicate your work elsewhere?: 

No, but we do work with organisations from the area, for instance from Czech Republic.

What other projects in your region should we know about?: 

We have plenty of projects, but what is most needed is to build a website which is basically a legal advice centre. The public is not active in reporting corruption, according to the research conducted by Transparency International. This is due to a lack of knowledge about available options. So we hope to build a website that would help citizens to find out how to act when facing corruption. We would love to achieve a state where people do not ignore, but act to battle against corruption!

Further Questions

What is your role in the project?:

I am the Project Manager at Transparency International and my job is to ensure the whole project works smoothly. Amongst other tasks I co-ordinate the work of volunteers, manage the upload of the incoming data and manage the communications. I also took part in development of the www.kepmutatas.hu website.

What was your most successful experience within the project?:

It was a great pleasure to see the young generation interested in our project and joining our work. They actively supported the project and created a great team. It’s good to know that young people are interested in our project and support us.

What would you still like to develop more within this project personally?

It is really difficult to measure the spending of political campaigns. It is difficult to find the right methodology to present specific costs of campaign elements, especially without having any access to concrete information about those expenditures. I feel the need to improve and further develop the methodology.  


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