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Photo: “Évértékelő 2020 (5)“, by Elekes Andor licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Hue modified from the original

Pintilescu, Corneliu, and Attila Kustán Magyari. “10 Soros conspiracy theories and the rise of populism in post-socialist Hungary and Romania.” Conspiracy Theories in Eastern Europe: Tropes and Trends (2020).


In the context of the European migrant crisis, Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban argued on October 30, 2015, in one of his weekly radio interviews, that the migrants flooding Hungary were assisted by a network of NGO activists. In his view, these activists were supporting “anything and everything that could or will weaken nation states” and undermining what he called “the established European way of life” (Orban 2015). According to Orban, “the most iconic” figure of this network was the Hungarian born Jewish-American billionaire George Soros (ibid). This interview illustrates how the migration issue and anti-Soros discourse became entangled in Hungary, to emerge as the dominant conspiratorial narrative within the Hungarian public sphere after 2015. The anti-Soros campaign reached a high point in the months leading up to the national consultation on the so-called Soros Plan in October 2017, when Orban’s party Fidesz portrayed Soros as the ‘puppet master” behind a broad conspiracy to bring millions of Muslim migrants to Europe.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.