Hungary's Orban says 2,000 people paid to topple him


Budapest (AFP)

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Friday, nine days before general elections, that he has a list of 2,000 people paid to topple his government and let immigrants flood in.

"In Hungary there are around 2,000 paid people working during the election campaign to topple the government and install a new pro-immigration cabinet acceptable to George Soros," Orban said.

"We know exactly who they are by name, for whom and how they are working in the interests of turning Hungary into an immigration country," he told radio station MR1.

In a fiery speech on Hungarian national day on March 15 steeped in patriotic rhetoric, Orban said that he would take unspecified "moral, political and legal" measures against his opponents after the vote.

"Europe is now under invasion. If we allow it to happen, in the next one or two decades tens upon tens of millions will set out for Europe from Africa and the Middle East," he had said.

Orban, in power since 2010, has in recent months sharpened his nationalist rhetoric and turned his fire on Soros, the Hungarian-born US financier and philanthropist.

He says Soros, 87, wants to undermine Christian Hungary and Europe through mass Muslim migration, using the many civil society groups that he funds to achieve this.

Orban's government has put up billboards nationwide depicting Soros and opposition leaders brandishing wire cutters ready to take down border fences erected in 2015 to keep migrants out.

His party Fidesz has also readied a "Stop Soros" package of legislation to be passed after the election that will make life harder for the organisations that Soros funds.

Polls suggest that Orban will win a record consecutive third term on April 8, although a surprise recent by-election defeat suggested he may be more vulnerable than thought.

In particular experts said the result indicated many voters care more about corruption and poor public services than immigration and Soros.