Hungary launches national consultation targeting COVID-19, Soros and ‘debt slavery’

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (L) delivers his speech during the inauguration of the Centenary Turul Statue in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Trianon Peace Treaty in Satoraljaujhely, Hungary, 06 June 2020. [EPA-EFE/ZSOLT CZEGLEDI HUNGARY OUT]

The Hungarian government on Monday evening (8 June) published the details of a nationwide survey seeking citizens’ views on COVID-19 economic measures, the EU recovery plan, immigration, and Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros.

The 9th national survey since the nationalist Fidesz party came to power in 2010 will ask Hungarians if they agree with a series of government actions including national manufacturing of personal protective equipment, coronavirus-related restrictive measures and moves mandating financial contribution from banks and multinational companies for economic recovery.

The questionnaire “aims at getting feedback from Hungarian people and making policy decisions accordingly,” wrote family minister Katalin Novák on Twitter.

The survey also asks whether the state of epidemic preparedness should be maintained as long as the risk of a COVID-19 return persists.

Civil society watchdogs have previously expressed concern regarding amendments proposed in the draft bill on transitional rules following the end of the state of emergency. They warn it will create the “younger brother” of the special legal order allowing the government to restrict fundamental rights, such as freedom of movement or the right of assembly. Those can be adopted by decree for a duration which is practically indefinite.

The law will be put to a vote in parliament, where Fidesz holds a supermajority, later this month.

Hungary to end state of emergency as NGOs cry foul

As promised, the Hungarian government submitted two draft bills to end the state of emergency and terminate its controversial powers, but civil society organisations said on Wednesday (27 May) the moves are simple trickery.

In a separate question, the authorities ask for citizens’ stance on George Soros’s “new plan” for the post-coronavirus recovery that they claim proposes EU member states to take up “perpetual bonds” on which interests would have to be paid “through generations, forever”. According to unnamed experts, those will “push nations into debt slavery,” the government says.

The US billionaire and philanthropist has been a long-standing target of the government’s anti-migration policy.

In another point, the authorities ask if the executive should continue to be tough on migration in the face of a European Court of Justice decision that Fidesz said forced Hungary to close transit-zones at its borders, in which asylum seekers were sometimes held for years. According to the consultation, the court decision coincides with Soros’s previous plan to have “one million migrants be let into Europe at all costs”.

Hungary closes asylum-seeker camps after EU court ruling

Hungary said Thursday (21 May) it would close “transit zone” camps where hundreds of asylum seekers and migrants were held, following a ruling by EU’s top court against their detention.

The government also claimed that “Brussels is preparing to challenge the Hungarian constitution’s rules concerning immigration” with an aim “to force us to change our Fundamental Law’s provisions banning migration”, asking if Hungary should hold steady “even at the cost of open conflict” with the European institutions.

The survey is the latest in a series of taxpayer-funded questionnaires sent to citizens to legitimise government action.

Prior to the pandemic, the government was compelled by law to launch a national consultation after the Hungarian parliament passed a law that prohibited authorities from executing court-ordered compensations in jail overcrowding cases until 15 June 2020.

Hungary plans citizen survey against court compensations for Roma

Hungary’s right-wing government plans next month to survey its citizens to determine whether the courts should stop financially compensating Roma for discrimination and prisoners for mistreatment.

Critics say the government survey will pave the way for Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to …

Previous surveys asked households about their opinions on migration and EU policies, such as the state-run “information campaign” called “Let’s stop Brussels”, which was criticised by former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The poll, titled “Your country, your voice,” has to be sent back before 15 August.

(Edited by Frédéric Simon)

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