Less than a month after his former protege (now his arch-nemesis) Viktor Orban led his nationalist Fidesz party to an overwhelming victory in Hungary's federal election, billionaire investor George Soros - who has become a persona non-grata in his native Hungary - has lost another round in its ongoing confrontation with the ruling government, and is closing the offices of his Open Society Foundation in Budapest.
Patrick Gaspard, the head of Open Society, announced the closure in an article by Austria's Die Presse.
Soros, who recently donated the bulk of his eleven-figure fortune to Open Society - an international chain of liberal nonprofits dedicated to pushing Soros' pro-immigration, pro-globalization political agenda under the guise of altruism - has been openly feuding with Orban for more than a year, ever since he criticized the Hungarian leader for purportedly running a "mafia state" during a speech in the UK.
And as we anticipated following Orban's sweeping electoral triumph, life for Soros proxies in Hungary has now become "unbearable". Fidesz has been pushing a bill, informally known as the "Stop Soros Act", designed to weaken Soros's influence in Hungary. Along with the Soros bill, the country's Parliament is weighing a suite of proposed constitutional amendments that would weaken Hungary's courts while allowing Orban to consolidate power.
Observers expect the amendments will soon become law now that Fidesz has been reelected with the two-thirds parliamentary majority required to remake the country's constitution.
Orban has blamed Soros for a host of ills and pushed through legislation cracking down on non-governmental organizations called the “Stop Soros” laws which drew international criticism. More details:
According to Austria's Die Presse, Patrick Gaspard, the head of the Open Society Foundation (OSF), that was founded by US billionaire George Soros, announced the closure of the office in the Hungarian capital on Thursday.
Budapest accused Soros of hiring some 2,000 people to meddle in the parliamentary elections. The ruling Fidesz party and its coalition partner are attempting to ban his groups, such as the pro-immigration Open Society Foundation, from the country.
The so-called “Stop Soros Act” is yet to be passed by parliament, but PM Orbán is hopeful the bill will limit Soros’ influence in the country’s internal affairs.
After the election, Hungary's re-elected PM tightened the screws on Soros, and Brussles: speaking during a press conference in Budapest last week, Orban said "the Hungarian voters have designated the most important topics: immigration and the topic of national security. Hungarians have decided they want to be the only ones who will decide who can live in Hungary."
Orbán also made it clear that far from stepping back from the ruthless campaign rhetoric, he would stay true to it, including by going ahead with controversial bills described by his government as the “Stop Soros” package.
In addition to his conflict with Soros, Orban has also been feuding with the European Union and German Chancellor Angela Merkel over his strict anti-immigration position. The EU has opened a case against Hungary for its refusal to participate in the migrant-redistribution scheme. Orban, who has openly bragged about building an "illiberal" Democracy, has effectively proven Merkel wrong.
Whereas much of Europe stressed under daily reports of altercations involving Muslim immigrants who arreived as a result of Angela Merkel's "Open Door" policy, Hungary has benefited from lower crime rates and lower incidences of terrorism than other EU member states. The country has attributed its lower crime rate on its aggressive anti-immigration policices: In 2015, Hungary built barriers along the Hungary-Serbia and Hungary-Croatia borders to stop migrants from entering the country on their way to EU members states with more generous benefits.
So, for those keeping track at home, the score is now Orban - 2, Soros - 0, but don't cry for the Open Society loss: after the closure, the foundation will still have more than 40 offices around the world.