Hungary set for another ‘national consultation’ targeting Soros

EU commission President Jean-Claude Juncker welcomes George Soros, Founder and Chairman of the Open Society Foundations prior to a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, 27 April 2017. [Olivier Hoslet/Pool/EPA]

Hungary is set to launch another “national consultation” about US financier and philanthropist George Soros, the government said on Tuesday (19 September), paving the way for fresh attacks on the man portrayed as the public enemy before next year’s elections.

The aim of the campaign, which will probably be launched next month, is to investigate public views on the “Soros plan”, government spokesman Bence Tuzson told public radio, without giving further details.

A top official in the ruling Fidesz party, Lajos Kosa, said last week that the “Soros plan” aims to persuade Europe to accept a million migrants per year and tear down Hungary’s anti-migrant border fences.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has regularly attacked the Hungarian-born Soros in the past year, calling him a “public enemy” for his alleged backing of uncontrolled mass immigration.

Nationalist MEP blames Soros for EU migration crisis

French MEP Jean-Luc Schaffhauser has blamed billionaire George Soros for having financed the “humanitarian infrastructures” that helped open Europe’s doors to uncontrolled flows of migrants, and for making money from the EU’s destabilisation.

A national consultation held earlier this year also focused on Soros, whom Budapest sees as a liberal bogeyman funding a raft of civil society groups in central and eastern Europe.

Meeting of minds as Netanyahu visits Orbán

Hungary welcomes Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu today (18 July) on a landmark visit that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán hopes will bolster him in his battle with George Soros and deflect charges of stoking anti-Semitism.

An image of the laughing 87-year-old Soros adorns billboard posters, accompanied by a message urging Hungarians “not to let Soros have the last laugh”.

The posters, some of which were daubed with anti-Semitic graffiti, were widely condemned by many, including Soros himself and Hungary’s main Jewish organisation, which called them “poisonous”.

The anti-Soros drive is the latest in a series of taxpayer-funded “national consultations” by Orbán’s government, comprising questionnaires sent to households and accompanying mass media “public information” campaigns.

The first one, in 2015, included a questionnaire asking households about “immigration and terrorism”.

That survey was sharply criticised, notably by the UN refugee agency UNHCR, which expressed “shock” at its questions and said it could boost xenophobia in the EU country.

Another campaign titled “Let’s Stop Brussels” asked citizens for advice on how to deal with European Union policies that the government said threatened Hungarians’ independence.

Hungarian media reported on Tuesday that Orbán had told a recent closed party meeting that immigration would be the main theme of the run-up to the election, likely to be held in April.

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