“Stop Soros” bill stricter than originally envisioned, say gov’t officials

February 13, 2018

"Stop Soros" bill stricter than originally envisioned, say gov't officials
Bence Tuzson (left) and Pál Völner | Photo: MTI/Attila Kovács

In January, the government announced it would propose a “Stop Soros” bill that would essentially impose penalties on organizations supporting illegal immigration. Today, on the eve of the National Assembly kicking off its spring session, undersecretaries Bence Tuzson and Pál Völner announced the government would be submitting a stricter bill than the one previously envisioned, reports 444.hu.

As part of the bill’s “social consultation,” the government opened up the bill to ideas from the general public. According to the government, more than 600 recommendations were submitted. The final product, the government says, is much stricter than the original version, which it claims to be in line with the wishes of Hungarian citizens.

If true (and one must take government claims with a grin of salt), it comes as no surprise as the government has spent billions of forints bombarding Hungarians with xenophobic propaganda conflating migration with terrorism for the past two and a half years.

The most significant change to the bill would require organizations to request permission from the Ministry of the Interior to engage in activities the government believes amount to organizing, supporting or financing migration. Those making such requests would be required to undergo a national security screening.

In other words, the Hungarian government is proposing that the Ministry of the Interior, led currently by Sándor Pintér, would get to decide which organizations are allowed to undertake which migration-related activities.

Justice ministry undersecretary Pál Völner said the bill would require modifications to the national security law, as Hungary’s state security apparatus would have to perform national security screenings of those applying for permission to engage in such activities.

According to merce.hu, for organizations to undergo national security screenings as part of the permission-request requirement would mean the government would have to tinker with laws requiring two-thirds support in parliament. Fidesz no longer has a supermajority and has already released a statement calling on opposition parties to support the bill.

The two-thirds requirement may be part of Fidesz’s campaign strategy for out-righting Jobbik. A similar situation occurred in 2016, when opposition parties – Jobbik included – voted against an attempt by Fidesz to modify the Fundamental Law (for the seventh time since 2011) to keep refugees out of the country.

Still reeling from revelations that 1,300 asylum-seekers were given protection by the Hungarian state in 2017 (despite the government’s intense propaganda suggesting the opposite), Fidesz may try to use this law to turn the tables on Jobbik.