BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungary’s ruling party unveiled billboards defaming European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen on Monday, the first time it has made her a personal target in a campaign similar to that against her predecessor which angered Brussels.
The billboards, erected overnight to launch a campaign for next June’s European parliamentary elections, depict Von der Leyen alongside Alex Soros, the son of Hungarian-born liberal financier George Soros, a constant target of the hostility of Orban’s Fidesz party.
The slogan reads: “Let’s not dance to their tunes.” Soros is Jewish and some critics view the central role he plays in Fidesz propaganda as evidence of anti-Semitism, which Fidesz strongly denies.
Similar billboards showing Von der Leyen’s predecessor, Jean-Claude Juncker, alongside the elder Soros drew a rebuke from Brussels in 2019. Fidesz removed them after the party’s main center-right group European Parliament, the EPP, threatened to expel the Hungarian party. Fidesz left the EPP two years later.
Orban, whose government is trying to release billions of euros in EU funds suspended by Brussels due to Fidesz policies, said on Saturday that Hungary “must say no to the current European model built in Brussels.”
Hungary is expected to be a major topic at the next EU summit in mid-December, as the EU country most sympathetic to Russia and skeptical of plans to offer Ukraine a path to membership of the bloc, which should be the main topic of the summit.
Orban sent a poll to Hungarians on Friday asking whether the EU should allocate more funds to Ukraine or grant it membership.
(Reporting by Krisztina Than; editing by Peter Graff)