Instilling Fear Becomes the New Political Weapon in the Hungarian Elections
"George Soros launched an open attack against Hungary. Soros has an established network of agents and unparalleled financial resources at his disposal, " wrote Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in the beginning of January, in a letter to seek political donations.
According to polls, Orbán has the potential to win a two-thirds majority (yet again) in the 2018 parliamentary elections. Orbán intentionally uses such campaign slogans, knowing that a major issue for Hungarian voters is the question of security.
For that reason, in almost all his speeches, Orbán emphasizes his party’s commitment to national security. Moreover, instead of mitigating the fear of the people, Orbán uses a propaganda that amplifies existing fears and security threats to his own advantage.
One such example was the presence of armored TEK – Counter Terrorism Centre – vehicles at the Budapest Christmas fair.
Recently, Orbán also outlined a plan to include defense education, such as shooting and other combat activities in physical education classes in public schools. Orbán promotes this plan as a means to counter terrorist threats and has also claimed it to be a NATO obligation. However, both reasons are inaccurate: there is no terrorist threat that would justify it and NATO has no such mandatory requirements.
This, however, helps maintain a sense of fear in the public life, and proves that the government is doing its best to ensure the nation’s security.
In a recent interview, Orbán explained that the Soros Plan is a national security issue for the government. Soros is a Hungarian-American billionaire who has openly criticized the Hungarian government and has been advocating for a plan for the EU to accept a million asylum seekers a year and to pay for the upkeep of those asylum seekers. This is one of Soros’s several ideas that Orbán is greatly opposed to and thus in the past two years Soros has become one of the “greatest enemies” of the Fidesz led government.
Thus, Orbán deems all opposition parties and organizations in support of the Soros Plan as traitors. It is also why one of Hungary’s best universities, CEU, (funded by Soros) was targeted by Fidesz and nearly shut down last year.
Additionally, after the 2016 referendum where voters rejected both “mass immigration” and “foreign influence”, Orbán launched a poster campaign depicting Soros as an enemy of Hungary.
According to surveys, most Hungarians voters don’t know Soros, however, because of the government-controlled media and the billboards covering the country, the majority now has a negative view of him.
The hate campaign continues in Hungary, and as surveys prove, it has been very successful.
According to a 2016 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 82 percent of Hungarians fear that refugees will take their jobs, and 72 percent believe that refugees increase the risk of terrorism in the country. In 2017, Pew also conducted a survey among 40 countries, in which Hungarians were the only ones to consider refugees as the greatest threat to the country.
According to the latest OECD survey, in no other European country are people as afraid as in Hungary. Half of the population doesn’t feel safe on the streets at night.
This fear in the people is kindled by the government to promote its political ideology and retain popularity and power. This is a key tool that Fidesz is strategically using as elections are coming up on April 8.