Just days after Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán accused George Soros of building a “Brussels kingdom,” the government has put up billboards and posters showing the Hungarian-born financier and philanthropist with the caption saying: “Letʼs not let Soros have the last laugh!”
The catchphrase was first uttered by Orbán last Tuesday in his speech at an event closing the government’s “national consultation” dubbed “Let’s stop Brussels!” Among other things, Orbán said Hungary wants to see “the original European Union” of the founding fathers, rather than a “Brussels kingdom,” which he implied Soros was building.
Orbán also suggested in his speech that Soros is directly involved in the European Commissionʼs ongoing infringement procedure against Hungary for its refusal to participate in the EU-wide relocation of refugees, which the prime minister said was launched “under his orders.”
“We are on the side of the Hungarian people, and the Hungarian people support the government against Brussels and Soros,” Orbán said, according to government website kormany.hu, adding that “we shall not let Soros have the last laugh.”
Questionnaires in the governmentʼs national consultation were returned by more than 1.6 million Hungarians, of the almost 8 million people eligible to vote (i.e. roughly 20% of the electorate). According to government communication, 99% of those who sent the questionnaires back supported the views of the government. However, according to a representative survey carried out in May, the vast majority of those returning the questionnaires were supporters of the governing Fidesz-KDNP coalition, which would seem to make the latest posterʼs implication of 99% support among the general populace for the governmentʼs stance on immigration highly tenuous at best.
Before the billboards appeared, Csaba Dömötör, state secretary at the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister, the ministry headed by Antal Rogán, told government-friendly daily newspaper Magyar Idők that another campaign would be launched concerning the topics of the national consultation.
The Hungarian government has recently directed repeated and heavy criticism at Soros, accusing him of meddling against Hungary.
During his university years, Orbán himself received a scholarship from the Soros Foundation and spent four months studying at Pembroke College at the University of Oxford in 1989, according to his CV posted on the Hungarian Parliament’s official website. Orbán finished his studies in England and came back to Hungary for the parliamentary elections in 1990.
Last May, in order to demonstrate his political distance from Soros, Orbán was said to be ready to repay the scholarship he received from Sorosʼs foundation in 1989, Cabinet Chief János Lázár noted at the time.