Hungary’s pro-migrant groups are seen as targets after the elections

BUDAPEST, Hungary – One day after winning an overwhelming electoral victory on an anti-immigration platform, the right-wing populist party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said it would limit the ability of civic groups to help immigrants and refugees.

Electoral officials still had ballots sent by mail on Monday, which added another seat to the super majority of the Fidesz party and gave it control over 134 of 199 seats in parliament.

That would allow Fidesz and his small ally, the Christian Democrats, to push for so-called "Stop Soros" bills, said Janos Halasz, party parliamentary spokesman.

Orban alleges that the opposition, which collaborates with the United Nations, the European Union and the wealthy philanthropist George Soros, wants to change Hungary into a "country of immigrants", inundating it with mostly Muslim immigrants and threatening its security and its Christian identity

Approval of the bill addressed to the defender Refugees could come as early as May, the party said.

The new laws could make it difficult for groups working with asylum seekers to continue their activities in Hungary. The laws would oblige NGOs working with migrants and asylum seekers to obtain government permits; the income received from abroad would be taxed; Defense groups could be banned from approaching more than 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the borders of Hungary, where asylum seekers file claims; and foreigners without authorization to help the refugees could be expelled from Hungary.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee, which provides legal badistance to asylum seekers, said it would not allow the election results to disrupt its mission.

The committee receives support from the Soros Open Society Foundations and is often identified by the government as one of the "foreign agents" allegedly working against the national interests of Hungary.

"Our badociation will continue its activities while people in distress ask us for help," the group said. "We are the same age as the Hungarian democracy, established in 1989, of which each time is less."

The Helsinki Committee said it was clear that Fidesz "considers that his interests of power are more important than the values ​​of the state of law and democracy, human rights and the Constitution."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Orban and promised that his country will be a "reliable partner" for Budapest, despite the differences, said his spokesman.

Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert did not comment on Monday on the tone of the Orban campaign. He acknowledged the differences in issues such as migration, but said that Merkel and his government are offering to "advance even more in bilateral cooperation and within the framework of our common membership in the EU and the values ​​that unite us in Europe."

Before the election, the Orban government had warned that Hungary would fall into chaos if it became an "immigrant country" such as France or Belgium, with funds earmarked for Hungarian families or disadvantaged Roma minority in the country diverted to migrants . The government said the presence of immigrants would weaken Hungary's security and increase the risk of terrorism.

He also warned that immigrants would stop Hungary's economic development, weaken government support for rural areas and threaten the safety of women and girls, and turn the capital of Budapest into an "unrecognizable" city.

"If the dam explodes, if borders are opened, if immigrants set foot in Hungary, there will be no turning back," Orban said on Friday in a final campaign rally.

Experts said the overwhelming victory could lead to government campaigns against other civic groups, independent media, the Central European University founded by Soros in Budapest and parts of the judiciary that bothered Orban with some of their decisions.

"The power of Fidesz is based on the control of political life and independent institutions," said badyst Bulcsu Hunyadi, of the Political Capital Institute. "It fulfills the only goal of making Fidesz the only political actor that can dominate public discourse in Hungary."

Orban's repression against non-governmental organizations is also based on his belief that only elected officials have the right to participate in politics. Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs made it very clear during the wait for Sunday's election results.

"The gaps still present in the legal system, which allow unauthorized organizations to delve, as it were, into acts of political life, into political decision-making, must be closed," said Kovacs in the news website

Since his return to power in 2010, Orban has stabilized the economy as a result of two scandalous terms led by the Socialist Party. But it also deliberately weakened the system of democratic checks and balances, nourishing widespread cronyism, severely limiting the pluralism of the media and making available to its government ample resources of the state.

The election observers noted this in a report on the vote. [19659002] "Excessive" government spending on ads that coincided with Orban's re-election campaign was unfair to the other parties in the race and "significantly compromised" fair competition, said Douglas Wake, head of an Organization mission to Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The superimposed campaigns, which demonized the immigrants, "blurred the line between the state and the party."

The rhetoric of the "hostile and intimidating" campaign limited the space for substantive debate and diminished the ability of voters to inform "The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, which runs an electoral rights program to empower citizens to To participate actively in the cause of clean elections, he said he expected to become the target of "legislative and communications attacks" by the government. [19659002] "I do not expect this to be easy in the next two years, and I think the government will do everything in its power to minimize our impact." id Executive Director of HCLU Stefania Kapronczay. "However, human rights are an ideal and can not be closed."


This story has been amended to correct the new laws that would force NGOs working with immigrants and asylum seekers to obtain government permits.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material can not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed.


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