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Hungarian Ruling Party Relaunches Anti-Soros Drive

What the party bills as a democratic exercise merges seamlessly into a political ad campaign ahead of next year’s election.

28 September 2017

Hungarian media have published the questions to be put to the public for the upcoming “national consultation” that is exclusively focused on the financier and philanthropist George Soros and his role in shaping EU migration policy.

 

The exercise by the ruling Fidesz party takes the form of a questionnaire that will be sent to every Hungarian adult of voting age. They will be asked to check one of two boxes, indicating that they either agree or disagree with seven separate statements, most of which diverge widely from anything Soros or the EU has proposed.

 

The first question asks for a response to the statement, “George Soros wants Brussels to resettle at least 1 million immigrants per year onto European Union territory, including in Hungary.”

 

Statement no. 6 reads, “The goal of the Soros Plan is to push the languages and cultures of Europe into the background so that integration of illegal immigrants happens much more quickly.”

 

The Open Society Foundations established by the Hungarian-born Soros are one of the world’s largest private charitable givers and were a major funder of Central European civil society in the years after the collapse of communism.

 

Both the use of such questionnaires and the attacks on Soros are a tried-and-tested element of the Fidesz political toolbox.

 

The party has also launched an ad campaign, similar to the billboard campaign attacking Soros that ended in July, the Budapest Beacon writes. Parliamentary elections are due to be held next spring.

 

The last “national consultation” was held earlier this year and was accompanied by the campaign slogan “Let’s stop Brussels.”

 

A group of Hungarian social scientists censured the campaign for presenting leading questions and not adhering to basic methodological standards, according to the political analysis blog Hungarian Spectrum.

 

Soros billboard
The first anti-Soros campaign featured billboards emblazoned with the words, “Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh.” Some posters showed Soros as the puppet master controlling various opposition politicians.

 

Reuters cited a spokesperson for Soros, who said it evoked “Europe’s darkest hours” and some billboards were defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti.

 

 

  • Soros proposed last year that the EU commit to accept at least 300,000 refugees a year, and said it would require $33 billion or more in annual spending to set up a comprehensive migration policy.

 

  • The Soros-funded Central European University (CEU) in Budapest is negotiating for survival, its rector, Michael Ignatieff, said on 15 September. Fidesz critics said the hastily passed education law last spring specifically targeted CEU, probably the most prominent private university in the region.

 

  • New York State, where CEU is accredited, is in talks with the Hungarian government on the future of the institution, Ignatieff said, adding, “… we remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached and ratified by the Hungarian Parliament.”

Compiled by Kate Syme-Lamont

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