A loose-knit group of George Soros-financed foundations is leaving Hungary as the government’s nationalist leader continues cracking down on the billionaire’s influence in the country.
Soros’ Open Society Foundations is shifting local staff to Berlin, the group said in a statement Tuesday. The move represents another example of the battle between Prime Minister Viktor Orban and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
“The government of Hungary has denigrated and misrepresented our work and repressed civil society for the sake of political gain, using tactics unprecedented in the history of the European Union,” Patrick Gaspard, president of the Open Society Foundations, said in a statement announcing the move.
Orban is leveraging his recent massive electoral victory to restrict the political influence of NGOs, many of which received millions from Soros, a Hungarian who escaped the country before Nazis invaded. The Hungarian government opposes the Open Society’s open immigration policies.
Orban’s brand of populism appealed to nationalist voters who are concerned over the growing number of Muslim refugees and immigrants who have entered Hungary in recent years. He can deliver on his promises because he achieved a two-thirds majority in the country’s parliament. (RELATED: Hungary’s Majority Party Pushes ‘Stop Soros’ Law)
The prime minister views Soros as an intruder into the country’s domestic politics, which are more and more being painted by Europe’s growing 2015 migrant crisis. Soros backs liberal refugee policies that would allow asylum seekers to settle in Hungary. (RELATED: Hungary Asks Citizens For Advice On How To Take Down George Soros)
“We are going to reaffirm those elements of our sovereignty which are under attack,” Orban spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said in a statement. “The will of the people is going to rule the political arena.” Zovacs studied at the Central European University, a school Soros helped fund.