Why this story matters:
Johann Gudenus, head of the far-right Freedom Party, has taken a leaf out of Orbán's book. In an interview on Saturday April 21, Gudenus said there were "valid rumors" that US-born billionaire George Soros was involved in "supporting migrant flows into Europe." His statements rapidly spread on right-wing online platforms.
In parroting Orbán's favorite conspiracy theory, Gudenus is also introducing antisemitic codes in Austrian society. Der Standard editor András Szigetvari, in a response worth reading, commented that:
"...allusions to a great Jewish mastermind who orchestrates migration [...] are enough -- the target audience understands what this means."
Gudenus's statements have rightly provoked a wave of outrage in Austria, but still, it will take an orchestrated and energetic response on behalf of the liberal opposition to prevent Orbán's strategy from gaining a foothold in Austria.
Details from the story:
- Head of Austria's Freedom Party Johann Gudenus said in an interview that there were "solid rumors" that Soros was involved in "supporting migrant flows into Europe".
- MEP of the People's Party Othmar Karas sees in Gudenus's statements "another incredible and scandalous derailment." In the "Kurier am Sonntag" Karas added: "In a responsible and serious Austrian foreign policy, there is no place for Orbán's tools like fictional blame and invented enemies."
- Martin Engelberg, member of the People's Party, wrote on Facebook that "it would have been better if [...] Gudenus had not commented on such a delicate question, which also concerns another country."
- Criticism also came from the opposition.
- Gudenus and the Freedom Party rejected allegations of antisemitism.