Half a year before the European Parliament elections, a government campaign to denigrate the European Union was launched in Hungary. As part of it, the government conducts “national consultations”, in which citizens can only choose predetermined answers.
The national consultations are a kind of “correspondence referendum” in which Hungarians have been responding to the government’s questions by letter or online for 13 years. There are eleven questions this year. Here is one of them: “Brussels wants to decide for us who we live with and who we let into our country. It wants to oblige us to let migrants into the country before their asylum applications are fully considered. This would create ghettos for immigrants in Hungary. The options are two answers: “We cannot allow ghettos for migrants to be created in our country” and “Brussels’ migration plans should be accepted.”
The question is tendentious. The alleged ghettos in question exist only in the narrative of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. – We must prevent migrants from settling in Hungary and the migrant ghettos that we are being forced to build, says the Prime Minister.
“From the very beginning, Brussels adopted a pro-war attitude and pressed for arms supplies. Therefore, it has already spent over five billion euros on the development of the Ukrainian army. The latest proposal assumes the transfer of another EUR 20 billion to arm Ukraine,” is the next question. Hungarian citizens also have two answers to choose from: “instead of arms supplies, a ceasefire and peace are needed” and “more weapons purchased from EU funds should be sent to the battlefield.”
It is easy to guess that Hungarians will vote for peace, and the thesis that the European Union is fueling the war in Ukraine is one of the constant points of Orban’s propaganda, considered in the West to be Putin’s Trojan horse in the European Union. Among other things, Hungary’s opposition to Ukraine’s membership in the European Union plays into the Kremlin’s hands.
– We will oppose the crazy ideas of Brussels bureaucrats, we will oppose the invasion of migrants, gender propaganda and illusions about war and Ukraine’s membership in the European Union – says the Hungarian Prime Minister.
Orbán’s propaganda serves Hungarians the false thesis that the money Europe is spending to help Ukraine is from the reconstruction fund, from which neither Hungary nor Poland has so far paid a single euro.
Anti-EU billboards encourage people to take part in national consultations – they feature the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and Alexander Soros, the heir to the billionaire George Soros hated by Orban, with the caption: “let’s not dance to the sound of their whistles.”
– I showed these photos to the chairwoman. She didn’t even shrug. She was completely unfazed. This isn’t the first time and probably won’t be the last. We have to do our part, we focus on solving crises and introducing changes, says Eric Mamer, spokesman for the European Commission.
The Hungarian government suggests that the European Union sponsors Hamas terrorists. Here is its content: “in recent years, Brussels has donated hundreds of thousands of euros to Palestinian organizations. Part of this aid went to the Hamas terrorist organization. In Europe, crowds of immigrants celebrate terrorist attacks in the Middle East, and the threat to Europe is terrorism, which is the result of immigration, to which Brussels encourages.
– This is probably the 13th public consultation and the model is still the same, i.e. a poster campaign and this clearly anti-Semitic thread, but now Hamas is supposed to ensure that no one can accuse anti-Semitism, because now we are on Israel’s side – points out Prof. Maciej Kisilowski from the Central European University in Vienna.
The national consultation is not legally binding. It is rather a kind of people’s plebiscite. They are opening Fidesz’s election campaign before next year’s European Parliament elections. This time, Orban’s party argues that we should not leave the EU, but change it from within. Every Hungarian will receive a letter with a questionnaire by Christmas. The deadline for submitting a response is January 10.
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Main photo source: PAP/EPA/MARCEL BIERI