For years, Hungarian-American billionaire investor George Soros has disrupted politics in Eastern Europe by supporting liberal organizations. Hungary’s ruling party wants him to stop.
Hours after a sweeping reelection victory on Sunday, Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban unveiled the Stop Soros initiative - a bill aimed to stop NGOs, think tanks, and other institutions that are working against his administration’s agenda and on behalf of the immigrants he wants to keep out.
Orban has portrayed George Soros as a sort of evil puppetmaster seeking to flood Hungary with immigrants. During his reelection campaign, Orban vowed to enact “moral, political, and legal revenge” on Soros's allies in Hungary and claimed to have a list of 2,000 individuals working for him.
Orban insists the opposition is working with Soros, the UN, and the EU to flood Hungary with immigrants and has warned that the presence of migrants would threaten Hungary's Christian identity, increase the risk of terrorism, halt the nation’s economic development, and threaten the safety of women and girls.
“If the dam bursts, if the borders are opened, if immigrants set foot in Hungary, there will be no going back,” said Orban Friday.
The Orban Administration has been on the offense against NGOs for some time now, and his party has been talking about the Stop Soros bill since February.
As it stands, the Stop Soros bill would impose a 25% tax on all foreign donations to nonprofits that work with migrants and enable the interior minister to block any activity he considers a a “national security risk.” The law would also force NGOs working with asylum seekers to obtain a government permit and prohibit advocacy groups from operating within 5 miles of the country’s borders.
With a super majority in parliament, Orban's Fidesz party will have no problem passing the bill when lawmakers reconvene next month.
“That means some NGOs will be demolished in a couple of months,” argues opposition activist Marton Gulyas. “They have to be prepared for government threats, raids, and I don’t know what else.”
One group at risk is the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a human rights watchdog that helps asylum-seekers. The group, which receives support from George Soros, is frequently cited as one of the “foreign agents” working against the government’s interests.
“We can see an alarmingly fast crackdown on civil society, or independent voices, in Hungary,” argues co-chair Marta Pardavi.
The Helsinki Committee has vowed not to let Orban’s reelection stop it from helping asylum-seekers. “[Fidesz] considers its power interests more important than the values of the state of law and democracy, human rights, and the Constitution,” said the group. “Our association will continue its activities for as long as people in dire straits ask us for help. We are the same age as Hungarian democracy, established in 1989, of which there is less and less left.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Orban on his victory and promised that Germany would remain a “reliable partner” with Budapest despite their differences.
Editor's note: Perhaps this is the beginning of a wakeup call for countries where Soros is attempting to interfere.