In a dramatic example of blowback against the establishment in the post-Trumpian world, Hungary announced it plans to crack down on non-governmental organizations linked to billionaire George Soros now that Donald Trump will occupy the White House, according to the deputy head of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s party, cited by Bloomberg.
The European Union member, and native country of Soros, will use “all the tools at its disposal” to “sweep out” NGOs funded by the Hungarian-born financier, which “serve global capitalists and back political correctness over national governments,” Szilard Nemeth, a vice president of the ruling Fidesz party, told reporters on Tuesday. No one answered the phone at the Open Society Institute in Budapest when Bloomberg News called outside business hours.
“I feel that there is an opportunity for this, internationally,” because of Trump’s election, state news service MTI reported Nemeth as saying. Lawmakers will start debating a bill to let authorities audit NGO executives, according to parliament’s legislative agenda.
As a reminder, Orban was the first European leader to publicly back Trump’s campaign, and was reportedly invited by Trump to visit the US; he has ignored criticism from the European Commission and U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration for building a self-described “illiberal state” modeled on authoritarian regimes including Russia, China and Turkey. In 2014, Orban personally ordered the state audit agency to probe foundations financed by Norway and said that civil society groups financed from abroad were covers for “paid political activists.” As a result of Trump’s victory, Orban has felt empowered to further last out against Europe’s established structures, and its core supporters.
As Bloomberg notes, Orban and his administration have repeatedly singled out NGOs supported by Soros, a prominent Hillary Clinton and Democratic Party supporter, with a wide network of organizations that promote democracy in formerly communist eastern Europe.
Orban is not alone: Trump has also accused the 86-year-old billionaire of being part of “a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.” In a pre-election commercial, he showed images of Soros along with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein, all of whom are Jewish. The Anti-Defamation League criticized the ad for touching on “subjects that anti-Semites have used for ages.”
Since then things have changed, however, and Trump has retained the services of two prominent Goldman alumni, Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, to serve on his administration. His current thinking on George Soros is unknown.