Orbán will spend more on propaganda in 2020 (500 million euros) than Trump spent on his campaign in 2016 (340 million dollars). And 2020 is not even an election year in Hungary.
An actual policy measure can be judged and criticized. An imaginary, symbolic one can not. This is the conclusion our strongmen and their communication gurus have drawn from history, and they are using it against us.
Why do we even allow politicians and the state to advertise themselves to us on our own money? And at which point is it too much? I am not just talking about party financing and elections, even though those are the hotbed of corruption. I am talking about the government advertising its own greatness to us.
Here is the evil recipe:
Spend astronomical sums of taxpayer money on government success propaganda. Give all the contracts to the designated crony. Let him keep his cut. He will then execute the spin doctor’s vision, spending money on advertising (very generously overspending in pro-Orbán media only) and on advertising surfaces (also owned by a crony).
The sums wasted on this are growing every year. In fact, 2020 will be a record year in explicit spending on advertising Orbán’s greatness – even though there is no election until 2022.
Below are the official numbers that we know so far, paid out by the propaganda ministry for various campaigns, letters sent to every household, teaching citizens whom to hate, inciting against Brussels, migrants, Soros, Juncker, various individuals and civil society – to name just a few – peppered with self-love by the dear leader. The data were handed over on public information requests – and they are not very diligent in answering those as they consider them an affront from the public.
- Nov-Dec 2015 – Anti-migrant campaign – HUF 1.2 billion – EUR 4 million
- 2016 – Various campaigns against Brussels, migrants, anti-migrant referendum, opinion-shaping fake survey “questions” and “info” packages sent to every household (2x) – HUF 9.8 billion – EUR 33 million
- 2017 – Stop Brussels campaign, anti-Soros hate campaign, several sets of letters sent to Hungarians in the country and abroad – HUF 31.8 billion – EUR 106 million
- 2018 (an election year) – Shrill anti-Soros, anti-Juncker, anti-Brussels, anti-migrant hate campaigns (before the elections) and pro-family redistribution campaign starts (after the elections) – HUF 50 billion – EUR 167 million
- 2019 – More anti-Soros, anti-Juncker, anti-Brussels, anti-migrant hate campaigns and the loan-for-babies program’s advertising switches into the next gear (incomplete data as October municipal elections are not counted) – HUF 40 billion – EUR 133 million
- 2020 – signed a contract for HUF 150 billion – EUR 500 million
The 2020 communication contract alone is thus bigger than the entire campaign bonanza since 2015.
Trump’s 2016 election campaign cost “only” 340 million dollars– but we all know the American campaign spending habits are famously modest.
Important to note that Orbán’s personal and party-campaigns are indiscernible from the official “government information” campaigns above. This is all done on taxpayer money but the National Audit Office is in not in the mental state to investigate Orbán’s party, it saves its ire to the opposition.