Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses the supporters in Budapest, Hungary, April 8 2018. Picture: REUTERS
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses the supporters in Budapest, Hungary, April 8 2018. Picture: REUTERS

Budapest — Hungary’s governing Fidesz party signalled on Monday it could push on quickly with legislation to crack down on organisations promoting migrant rights as soon as its parliament reconvenes after Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s sweeping election victory.

The right-wing nationalist projected himself as a saviour of Hungary’s Christian culture against Muslim migration into Europe, an image that resonated with 2.5-million voters, especially in rural areas.

His Fidesz party won a two-thirds majority for the third time in Sunday’s election, meaning he again has the powers to change constitutional laws, potentially paving the way for further friction with the EU.

The victory could embolden Orban to put more muscle into a central European alliance against EU migration policies, working with other right-wing nationalists in Poland and Austria, and further expose cracks in the 28-nation bloc.

A Fidesz spokesman said on Monday: "After parliament is formed at the end of April ... in early May in the next parliament session we can start work ... that is needed in the interest of the country, which could be the Stop Soros legal package."

George Soros

The proposed legislation is part of Orban’s campaign targeting Hungarian-born US financier George Soros, whose philanthropy aims to bolster liberal and open-border values. Among the measures floated before the election were mandatory registration of some nongovernmental organisations that "support illegal immigration" and a 25% tax to be imposed on foreign donations that such groups collect, as well as restraining orders that preclude activists from approaching the EU’s external borders in Hungary. Those borders have been fortified since a migrant influx in 2015, when hundreds of thousands of people fled wars and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.

One nongovernmental organisation described the prospect of the proposed legislation as "terrifyingly serious".

In March, the prime minister said that the government had drafted the bill because activists were being paid by Soros to "transform Hungary into an immigrant country".

Soros has rejected the government campaign against him as "distortions and lies" meant to create a false external enemy.

Analysts at HSBC said Orban’s strong mandate could be problematic if it served to embolden Hungary’s nationalistic policies and strengthened its hand in its arguments with the EU over the rule of law or migration.

Reuters