Hungary's Fidesz prepares campaign against 'Soros plan' for migrants

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party, preparing for elections next April, promised on Thursday to highlight what it called a plan by billionaire financier George Soros to bring millions of migrants into Europe.

FILE PHOTO -- Business magnate George Soros arrives to speak at the Open Russia Club in London, Britain June 20, 2016. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/File Photo

Fidesz asked Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government to carry out a “national consultation” about Brussels’ plans to distribute asylum-seekers in the EU, a week after the EU’s top court ruled against complainants Hungary and Slovakia.

Previous such consultations have taken the form of sending out questionnaires to millions of voters, setting out the government’s right-wing nationalist position and asking people if they agree.

Soros, a Hungarian-born Jew who has spent a large part of his fortune funding pro-democracy and human rights groups, has been targeted by Orban’s government repeatedly. His spokesman has described the government’s portrayal of his views on immigration as “fantasy”.

Orban has been one of the loudest opponents of mandatory migrant resettlement quotas proposed by the EU, arguing this would undermine its sovereignty and social fabric. His stance has gone down well with voters, and Fidesz is firmly ahead in opinion polls.

Lajos Kosa, a party vice chairman, said the national consultation should focus on the alleged Soros plan, something that would place migration at the center of the campaign.

“The European Commission stops just short of saying that they carry out the Soros plan... but all their steps and ideas with regard to migration point in this direction,” Kosa said, adding last week’s EU court defeat for Hungary had “opened the gates”.

Soros’ spokesman Michael Vachon in July dismissed the idea that the financier and philanthropist was promoting a scheme to import millions of illegal immigrants into Europe.

“Soros’s actual position on migration is that the international community should provide more support to the developing countries that today host 89 percent of refugees and that Europe should accept several hundred thousand fully screened refugees through an orderly process of vetting and resettlement,” he said.

He said an anti-migrant billboard campaign by the Hungarian government, showing a smiling Soros and carrying the caption “Don’t let Soros have the last laugh”, was “reminiscent of Europe’s darkest hours”.

The government ended the poster campaign over the summer.

Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Mark Trevelyan