The politics and meddling of Soros and the Open Society network

Soros and the Open Society are not philanthropic charities but political actors.

Last week, the Open Society Foundations penned a letter responding to the article by Peter Roff, published January 22, asking “Why is the U.S. Interfering in Hungary's Election?”.

It comes as little surprise that, in her response, Laura Silber not only misses the point of Mr. Roff’s article – which underlines that Hungary is both democratic and an ally of the United States – but goes on to misrepresent the activities of her own organization, the Open Society network.

The mantra that we are all supposed to believe about Soros – that he is a philanthropist – is false. He is a political actor, a point made blatantly clear in his speech last week in Davos where he said that the government of Hungary is “adamantly opposed to the values on which the European Union is based,” despite Prime Minister Orbán's staunch support for a strong Europe of nations.

But Silber wants to convince us otherwise. Soros has contributed millions in Hungary, she writes, “to improve the lives of its people,” including “supporting independent civic organizations and media groups.”

In fact, Soros and his network are political actors, attempting to influence public affairs in Hungary by carrying out the kind of “active measures” that Roff denounces. They will never acknowledge that the groups and causes that they support are promoting a very particular, ideologically-driven agenda. They try to distract attention from the millions of dollars they spend lobbying in Washington and Brussels to push that agenda and to oppose government’s like that of Prime Minister Orbán who stand in their way. The work is not “philanthropic,” and the Open Society Foundation is not a “charity.”

Secondly, she claims that the prime minister “wants to restrict independent reporting.” That claim and the persistent fretting about media freedom are unfounded. As I have stressed many times, consider the fact that the most popular commercial TV channel (RTL Klub), news portals (like Index) and magazines (like HVG) remain sharp critics of the Orbán Government.

Silber also claims that the government has attempted “to shutter the Central European University,” when in fact it was an administrative matter of rules to create an even playing field. She fails to mention that the two sides are in the process of finalizing an agreement, and in the meantime, the CEU has not missed a single day of classes.

On NGOs, we have done what many responsible governments do. Our laws, which Open Society is actively lobbying against in the federal government of the United States, require those NGOs that receive substantial funding from foreign actors to be completely up-front and transparent about that. They represent no voters and have no democratic mandate.

It was telling that an executive of the Open Society Foundations felt compelled to step into this debate. It reinforces our point: Soros and the Open Society are not philanthropic charities but political actors attempting to influence the outcome of elections in Hungary.