The Civil Cooperation Forum (Civil Összefogás Fórum, or CÖF) is a nominally non-governmental organization (NGO) that provides political support to the Orbán government. CÖF formed in 2009, one year before Viktor Orbán’s return to power as prime minister in 2010.
CÖF has been one of the main organizers of the six pro-government Peace March Demonstrations that have taken place in Budapest since 2012 and also promotes the political interests of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán via the publication of pro-government communiqués on the organization’s website and erection of pro-government signage in Budapest (see Making Politics of Migration: The Civil Cooperation Forum Signs and A Thousand Clowns).
Lawyer László Csizmadia and political scientist Tamás Fricz serve as the main leaders of CÖF in their capacity of organizational spokesmen. Csizmadia also serves as president of the council of the National Cooperative Fund (Nemzeti Együttmükődési Alap), a government organization that distributes government funding to NGOs in Hungary in order to “promote national cohesion and public welfare” (source in Hungarian).
Opposition groups and websites claim that CÖF is actually a government-organized non-government organization (GONGO) that receives its funding indirectly from the Orbán government (source in Hungarian).
In April 2017, Csizmadia acknowledged that CÖF had received 60 million forints (192,000 euros) in support from the For a Civil Hungary Fund (source in Hungarian).
In May 2017, the entirely state-owned Hungarian Electrical Works (Magyar Villamos Művek) revealed that in 2016 the company had provided CÖF with 508 million forints (1.6 million euros at the average annual exchange rate) in funding (source in Hungarian).
Last updated: May 15, 2018.