Hungarian Media Respond to LiveJasmin Mogul Gyorgy Gattyan's Political Bid

Hungarian Media Respond to LiveJasmin Mogul Gyorgy Gattyan's Political Bid

BUDAPEST — Shortly after Gyorgy Gattyan — the Hungarian multimedia tycoon who built his empire on the success of LiveJasmin — announced that he would seek to challenge Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz party in next year’s parliamentary elections, the local press weighed in on the development.

“Weeklies from across the political spectrum ponder the significance of outsiders in next April’s parliamentary election,” reported English-language news aggregator Hungary Today in a roundup of local coverage of Gattyan’s announcement. The site noted the contrasting responses from opposition-leaning commentators who fear that outsider candidates like Gattyan “play into the hands of the government side” by dividing opposition voters, and a conservative analyst who “lambasts the opposition front-runner who would discourage outsiders from running.”

Gattyan — a 51-year-old entrepreneur who has cultivated a high profile in Hungary as a dapper tastemaker at the level of other mainstream media barons — is the owner of Docler Holding, with locations in Luxembourg, Budapest and Los Angeles.

A Ralph Nader or Jill Stein Figure?

Opposition journalists like HVG’s Agnes Gyenis and Peter Hamvay agreed with an assessment by Péter Márki-Zay, mayor of the Hungarian city of Hódmez?vásárhely, that Gattyan would ultimately help Orban by attracting “young voters who are unlikely to vote for Fidesz” — similar to the effects of campaigns by Ralph Nader and Jill Stein during past U.S. presidential elections.

They speculated that Gattyan’s program of “a digitalized Hungary” might convince a young electorate, but “left-wing pollster Tibor Zavecz told the authors that he only expects the porn tycoon to reap barely a fraction of 1% of all votes cast.”

Meanwhile, pro-Orban publication Mandiner ran an editorial by former cabinet minister and European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, who countered that it was “undemocratic” for politicians like Márki-Zay to “try and limit the number of candidates in parliamentary elections,” according to Hungary Today.

Columnist: Gattyan's Candidacy Motivated by 'Midlife Crisis'

Robert Puzser of opposition publication Magyar Hang made his bias evident with stigmatizing language,  calling Gattyan a “porn Emperor and Hungary’s richest and most influential pimp.” He theorized that Gattyan’s intention to become a politician “might be motivated by a midlife crisis and experiencing an understandable desire of being seen as something different from a porn tycoon. Another possible motive may be that he sees Prime Minister Orban’s position to be weakening and feels that there is a slot for him in national politics.”

Puzser, according to Hungary Today, was not surprised by Gattyan’s plan to run for office. “Wealthy entrepreneurs have successfully run for Prime Minister in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia, although they first established their own media backgrounds before entering politics. He believes Gattyan is not a Fidesz puppet and probably imagines himself to be a potential challenger to Prime Minister Orban.”

Porn King or Philanthropist?

Gattyan's website presents him discreetly as “the founder and owner of Docler Holding” and “a producer and the benefactor of several charities.” Docler, the site explains, offers “information technology developments, streaming technology, website design and operation, domain registration, online payment services, game software development and film and TV program production, as well as the distribution of exclusive high-end fashion labels.”

“Mr. Gattyan is dedicated to high-quality recreation and entertainment,” the site states. “His aim is to revolutionize the television, music and film industry with the help of the latest and most sophisticated technological solutions. Besides his professional career, the businessman is also known for his eager charity work. In the past few years Mr. Gattyan and his company has offered notable donations to several foundations and associations to support cultural, science, sports and environmental protection.”

By contrast, Gyenis and Hamvay characterized Gattyan as someone who “has been trying for 20 years to cleanse his image as a porn video producer, but that activity is what has made him one of the richest people in the country.”

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