From the beginning the Soros Foundations and university played a key role for several SZDSZ (Alliance of Free Democrats political party) politicians. Miklós Vásárhelyi was the chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees between 1994 and 2001, but he also represented George Soros in the MTA-Soros Foundation Committee between 1984 and 1990. Vásárhelyi was also a member of the Hungarian Parliament representing SZDSZ from 1990 to 1994. Given all this, it is no surprise that they already faced the first Fidesz government. In the foundation’s summary of the year 2000, they wrote the following about the Orbán government: “Our previous strategy which was based on cooperation with the government is no longer appropriate in 2000. Now the main emphasis must be put on civilian control of the government which continues to centralize and concentrate power and resources.” However, the Soros-NGOs’ conscious political scheming really picked up after 2010.
2010–2014: protests and network organization
The right-wing government, which at this point had a two-thirds majority, was consistently and systematically attacked by Soros organizations’ criticisms via domestic and international platforms. As the left-liberal parties began splintering at that time, Soros’ people were the ones at the forefront of the protests. In January 2011 they already began organizing demonstrations, on this occasion against the media law. This is when Péter Juhász, an activist for drug liberalization and former representative of the Soros-supported Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), began to play a political role. In fact, Balázs Dénes, leader of TASZ, was another prominent opposition figure in the April and October 2011 protests. Balázs Dénes was an employee of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union from 1997, becoming its president from 2004 to 2012 which was then followed by four years as a project director at Soros’ OSF starting in 2013.
At that time, a series of networks were established that were made to appear civil in nature, but were actually political, for instance: the Student Network, the Parents’ Network, and even the Teacher Network. The latter was established in February 2013 as an organization for teachers and researchers working in Hungarian higher education. Among its members were many prominent left-liberal figures: Ágnes Heller, Zsuzsa Ferge, Róbert Braun, Zoltán Lakner, Bence Tordia, and even Csaba Tóth, the strategic director of the Republikon Institute and coordinator for the 2004 and 2006 SZDSZ campaigns.
This was the “Milla” age – nickname of the left-liberal movement, “One Million for Press Freedom”. People from the background began playing politics at this time, like Katalin Cseh who is now a member of the European Parliament. Later, both she and Péter Juhász moved in Former PM Gordon Bajnai’s direction – as did George Soros’ money.
2014 - 2018: even more direct political involvement
When the left suffered another two thirds loss in 2014, the Soros network’s non-political actors became more active. In the summer of 2014, Márton Gulyás and the Human Platform Association organized their first anti-government demonstration indirectly financed by Soros money from the Norwegian Civil Fund. The creation of the Human Platform which was at first an umbrella organization, was initiated by the arts and production company, Krétakör (Chalk Circle), led by Márton Gulyás. The latter received 35 million forints from a foundation supported by George Soros. Actually, the Krétakör supported the group called “The constitution is not a game” that tried to occupy the Fidesz headquarters in March 2013. At least, this was hinted at by the fact that their sympathizers could transfer donations intended for them to the Krétakör Foundation’s bank account.
The Human Platform was particularly active from 2014-18 in the first parliamentary cycle with protests against the internet tax all the way until the 2016 teachers' demonstrations. From 2015, public interests changed focus as migration became increasingly prevalent – and the Soros network’s organizations adapted. The pro-migration standpoint adopted more consistent markers, often taking the place of the left-liberal parties. In connection with the 2016 quota referendum for example, out of the 22 NGOs calling for abstention or an invalid referendum, 20 were financed by George Soros. In addition to the groups listed so far, a few came to prominence throughout the migration crisis: the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Migszol, and Migration Aid. Soros’ 2015 reports revealed that the speculator supported in fact a total of 65 NGOs in Hungary. The largest sums of funding were on par with the budgets of the parliamentary factions: for example, in 2015-16, the Helsinki Committee received HUF 387 million while TASZ received HUF 345 million.
By the end of 2017, it was clear that the opposition parties would not unite in a coalition for the 2018 elections. At the same time, more and more people were encouraging competing opposition candidates in certain districts to withdraw in favor of each other. As the Hungarian parliamentary elections were limited to one round after 2014, Soros-financed opinion polls were launched to examine which opposition candidates had the best chances of winning. Then, based on the results, candidates who were worse off were encouraged to drop out.
During the campaigns, the Hungarian-American billionaire employed entirely novel methods in addition to his usual political funding. For example, for an enormous price tag, the internet activist network named Avaaz campaigned for opposition candidates. Avaaz had already intervened in several foreign campaigns, always backing the pro-migration candidate. The only thing you could find out about the organization was that it was funded by George Soros from the start. In 2006, OSF granted them 150 thousand dollars which was then supplemented in 2009 with another 300 thousand dollars from a different Soros organization.
In the meantime, another organization tied to Soros essentially required leftist candidates to pledge allegiance before the 2018 vote. A group of representatives from the opposition signed the Transparency International’s study entitled “Recommendations for curbing corruption in Hungary”. If they had been chosen during the election, they were obliged to support any bill aimed at curbing corruption. According to the recommendation, if this was not actualized, then any representative who signed the statement could be sued or recalled.
All of this sounds fine, but in reality, it would have meant accepting a government program drawn up by Soros organizations plain and simple. The outsourcing of government powers to Soros organizations is a common model that has appeared among the Democratic Party in the United States and in Brussels’ operations. In the fall of 2019 after the elections, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony symbolically handed over the keys to City Hall to a Soros-related organization. In light of this, the public procurement of the Lánchíd bridge renovation (which turned out to be more expensive and later than planned) was monitored for corruption by Transparency International Hungary for a sum of HUF 1.3 million.