Hungarian PM Slanders George Soros and EU Official, Risks Party Backlash
New statements by Viktor Orban seem to have threatened his political party’s security within the European Parliament.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is facing backlash from the E.U. after launching a tax-payer funded elections-related media campaign that antagonized several international officials in order to encourage support for his anti-immigration platform.
The government leader accused European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Hungarian-American businessman George Soros of allegedly supporting illegal migration, specifically weakening border states of the European Union such as Hungary and forcing resettlement quotas upon them.
One poster, embellished with pictures of Juncker and Soros, reads, “They want to introduce mandatory resettlement quotas. They want to weaken member states’ right to border protection. They would ease immigration with migrant visas.”
Orban’s Campaign ‘Beggars Belief’
Juncker and members of the politically independent European Commission rebuked the statements.
“The Hungarian government campaign beggars belief,” E.U. commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said in a press briefing. “It is shocking that such a ludicrous conspiracy theory has reached the mainstream to the extent it has.”
Soros, an American billionaire born in Hungary, became a player in E.U. politics by investing money into liberal humanitarian movements and advocating for safe border crossings.
Orban has been vocally opposed to mandatory resettlement quotas and E.U. involvement in Hungarian border politics. Last year, he moved to criminalize humanitarian workers, including billionaire Soros, whose foundation, Open Society Foundation, relocated out of Hungary.
Orban has also vilified religious and ethnic groups by calling on voters to support his political party, Fidesz, to defend “Christian” nations from the threat of immigration.
Just last year, the Hungarian government made headlines when they made the controversial claim that white Christians were gone from parts of Vienna, Austria. The message, shared through a video post on the official Facebook of the minister of Orban’s office, was later taken down by the social media site’s administration. The video can be viewed here.
Orban’s Statements Risk European Parliament Consequences
While Orban’s past statements have made waves amongst fellow European heads of state, his latest campaign against Juncker seems to have threatened his political party’s security within the European Parliament.
Fidesz is currently part of the European People’s Party (E.P.P.), which is the dominant force in the E.U. parliament.
Juncker was elected to his position as the E.U. commission head from a candidacy with the E.P.P. The accusations singling him out have evoked reaction from other Northern European countries and members of the E.P.P.
“We send a clear message to Fidesz that they have to change their politics,” Finnish Finance Minister Petteri Orpo told reporters in Helsinki last week. “We are considering what could be the next steps to evaluate their membership in the EPP. We are concerned about what has happened.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s political party, the Christian Democrats (C.D.U.), also criticized the Hungarian government’s slander, stating that their words were a threat to the goals of unity in Europe.
Merkel’s successor in the C.D.U., Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, told Der Spiegal magazine that they would consider breaking contact with the Fidesz party.
Despite critiques from his contemporaries, Orban plans to continue the media depiction of Juncker and Soros’s alleged corruption with a written letter delivered to Hungarian voters.
The Budapest-based website HVG spoke with Zoltan Kovacs, a government spokesman who revealed the plan and claimed that Orban’s position is that the reaction from E.P.P. delegates only confirms the allegations he has made.