Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has accused the United States and Jewish American billionaire George Soros of trying to meddle in his country’s politics as Budapest is bracing for a parliamentary vote that is expected to be its toughest election in 15 years.
Speaking during an event in central Budapest on Saturday, Orban said Washington and Soros were trying to get their people, the Hungarian leftist opposition, elected with the use of their money, media and networks.
"But what matters is not what they in Brussels, in Washington and in the media which is directed from abroad, want. It will be Hungarians deciding about their own fate," Orban told tens of thousands of his supporters at the ceremony.
"Our strength is in our unity ... we believe in the same values: family, nation, and a strong and independent Hungary."
Orban, who came to power in 2010, is to face in six months a united front of opposition parties, including the Socialists, liberals and the formerly far-right, now center-right Jobbik in the 2022 Hungarian parliamentary elections.
The six-party alliance is led by 49-year-old Catholic conservative Peter Marki-Zay, a tough challenger who seems to embody the traditional values Orban publicly champions.
Orban also called on his supporters at Saturday’s event, held in commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the Hungarian uprising against Soviet rule, to defend the achievements of his nationalist government's decade in power.
Marki-Zay said at a separate opposition rally that if elected, his government would draft a new constitution, clamp down on corruption, introduce the euro and guarantee freedom of the press.
"This regime has become morally untenable ... the momentum we have now should take us to April 2022," he said.
Opinion polls show Orban's Fidesz party and the opposition alliance running neck-and-neck, with about a quarter of voters undecided.
Orban's government, with its main ally Poland, has clashed with Brussels over media freedoms and rule of law issues while stating that Hungary's interest is to remain a member of a strong European Union.
The Hungarian-born Soros is a divisive figure in Hungary due to his left-wing interests and open-border policy inclinations, which are sharply in contrast to Orbon’s policies. The two have on several occasions clashed publicly.
The Open Society Foundation, Soros’ charity which is active globally, has spent more than $1.6 billion on what he says is the development of liberal democracy in Eastern Europe in the past 30 years.