picture of Pál Völner

Following the sudden resignation of Fidesz Member of Parliament Pál Völner (pictured) yesterday from his position as State Secretary, Hungary’s opposition is also calling for Justice Minister Judit Varga to resign in what they call “the most serious corruption scandal in the Orbán government.”

Early on Tuesday, Prosecutor General Péter Polt submitted a request to suspend the Parliamentary immunity of Pál Völner, stemming from an ongoing investigation into bribery payments Völner allegedly accepted from the Hungarian Chamber of Judicial Officers. Following this, Völner resigned as State Secretary later in the day.

Anna Donáth, president of opposition party Momentum, referred to Völner’s role in the Pegasus spyware scandal, and called on Justice Minister Judit Varga herself to resign for empowering her state secretary to make decisions on who to spy on.

Not only is the minister unable to perform her duties by letting someone else authorize the wiretaps, but she can’t even supervise her own subordinates in the ministry. She needs to resign immediately

-stated Anna Donáth.

Jobbik released a statement saying that it was particularly infuriating that Völner had received bribe money from judicial executors, whose actions have brought tens of thousands of families to the streets in more than a decade of Fidesz rule.

The opposition party claims that Minister Varga and State Secretary Völner together “surveilled and wiretapped independent journalists, businesspeople, and opposition politicians,” and that Varga should follow her deputy’s lead and step down from her position.

Opposition prime ministerial candidate Péter Márki-Zay also weighed in with his opinion on the matter, commenting on social media:

What has Viktor Orbán done to this country? The Ministry of Justice directs corruption in this government, and the threads lead back to the leader who made decisions on the Pegasus spyware. So in Hungary, it’s not the state that surveils criminals by secret means, but rather a criminal who does the surveilling of honest citizens, journalists, and companies.

In addition, opposition politicians at a press conference hosted by the members of Dialogue, Everybody’s Hungary Movement, Democratic Coalition, LMP, and the Hungarian Socialist Party not only called on the immediate resignation of Justice Minister Judit Varga, but for Pál Völner to resign his mandate in Parliament as well.

According to the Central Investigative Prosecutor’s Office, there is a well-founded reason to believe that Völner received occasional payments of 2–5 million Ft. (US $6,200-$15,400) from the President of the Hungarian Judicial Enforcement Office for several years in exchange for taking on specific cases at the President’s request. The case has twelve suspects, including eight executors in the enforcement office.

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By Steven N.

Steven is the editor-in-chief of Hungarian Politics. He has been following the political scene in Hungary and the Central European region more or less since 1994.