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George Soros still on political centre stage

May 8th, 2017

As the dispute over George Soros and his network rolls on and grows ever more bitter, pro-government weeklies and dailies call for harsh measures to curb the alleged influence of the Hungarian-born philanthropist and his foundations. A left-wing journalist accuses the government of absurd falsifications and fear-mongering.

‘Enough of wishy-washy statements, let us declare both Frans Timmermans and George Soros as personae non grata in Hungary’, the radical nationalist Zsolt Bayer writes in Magyar Idők. Frans Timmermans, the Socialist Vice-Chair of the European Commission in an interview with the German weekly Die Zeit accused PM Orbán of using anti-Semitic language when he called George Soros an American financial speculator last week in the debate over Hungary in the European Parliament (see BudaPost May 2). Bayer finds it outrageous and absurd for Timmermans to dare to discredit as an anti-Semite someone who criticizes George Soros by referring to him as ‘an American financial speculator’. The pro-government columnist thinks that the real anti-Semites are pro-migration politicians like Timmermans and their allies, including George Soros. In Bayer’s opinion, those who endorse ‘Islamic immigration’ ‘commit a crime against humanity’, ‘are the gravediggers of European civilization and of European nations’ and threaten the security of European Jewry. In conclusion, Bayer agrees with Foreign Minister Péter Szijártó who called for Timmerman’s resignation after he raised the spectre of anti-Semitism behind the Prime Minister;’s remarks. Bayer goes so far as to suggest that Frans Timmermans as well as George Soros should be banned from Hungary.

Népszava’s Jenő Veress describes the government’s anti-Soros propaganda campaign, which includes roadside posters portraying Mr Soros manipulating Socialist leader László Botka as a puppet on a string, as reaching new heights of absurdity. The left-wing columnist recalls that TV2, owned by the pro-government media mogul Andy Vajna, entitled one report: ‘George Soros would have killed his mother.’ In a report on euthanasia Mr Soros wrote that he offered his dying mother the possibility of assisting in her death, but he was happy that she chose to die naturally, surrounded by her family. Veress wonders what will come next, and how the government will trump such ridiculous accusations, which are aimed at vilifying Mr Soros.

Magyar Demokrata’s editor-in-chief András Bencsik speculates that the main aim of George Soros’ last visit to the Brussels EU headquarters last week was to secure the future of the ‘Soros empire’ after the founder’s death. The pro-government commentator thinks that the Soros network has become an organization too powerful to be even controlled by its founder – on the contrary, it is the empire that uses George Soros for its own systemic purposes. Bencsik thinks that the most immediate target of the Soros network is Macedonia where it is busy fomenting revolt in in the name of democracy.

Writing in the same weekly, Zsuzsa Hernádi accuses George Soros and his network of trying to orchestrate ‘transnational demonstrations’ to further their own political agenda. The pro-government columnist speculates that George Soros’ organizations have established an international network that can be mobilized anywhere through online social media to weaken the nation state. As an example, Hernádi mentions the pro-CEU rallies in Budapest which were joined by foreign students as well as NGOs. In conclusion, Hernádi calls on the government to find a ‘new system of security’ which stops short of fully sealing Hungary’s borders in order to make sure that no foreign influence can be exerted against Hungary through ‘transnational flashmobs’.

In their regular joint interview in Heti Válasz, political scientists Gábor Török and Ágoston Sámuel Mráz ponder the implications of the government’s battle with George Soros. Török, a centrist analyst thinks that Fidesz is attacking Mr Soros in order to mobilize its base, assuming that this constituency is sufficient to win the 2018 election. The political fight with George Soros also helps the government to divert attention from other sensitive issues, including corruption, Török contends. Mráz, on the other hand, thinks that it was George Soros who made himself the main target of Fidesz. The pro-government analyst recalls that George Soros has several times expressed his firm discontent with the Orbán government and has done his best to best to mobilize forces against it in Hungary and beyond. With the election of Donald Trump as US President, George Soros no longer enjoys the support of the United States, hence the Orbán government thought it could launch a counter-attack on its adversary ‘without taking great risks’, Mráz suggests.

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