On April 4, 2017, the Hungarian Parliament amended a law regulating higher education in a way that has been widely reported as targeting the Central European University (CEU), founded by Hungarian-born U.S. financier George Soros. The amended law requires universities to open campuses in the country in which they are registered; and to cease operations in Hungary unless the country they are in enters a bilateral educational agreement with the Hungarian government.
Observers have been calling this the Lex CEU given that it appears to be tailored to kick out one specific institution: the CEU, one of Hungary’s leadinginstitutions of higher education. While it operates only in Budapest, CEU’s degrees are recognized in the United States. If the amendment goes into effect, CEU would be required to establish a U.S. campus, or close.
The new amendment was passed within a week of being introduced; criticscharge that the government expedited it to minimize public debate.
So why is the Hungarian government going to war with an individual university?
Givern Soros recent track record, the reasons are not difficult to guess. Soros has been against illiberal policies followed by the current President:
Orbán uses Soros as a symbol of globalist interference and disregard for national sovereignty. For instance, after human rights watchdogs condemned Hungary’s treatment of refugees on the Hungarian-Serb border, a government communique asserted that “Soros’s people are using lies to attack Hungarian policemen and soldiers defending our borders.” Soros further symbolizes the cosmopolitan-liberal and international opposition that has been criticized Orbán’s illiberal practices. In fact, international observers note that CEU is widely considered a last bastion of liberal values in Hungary.
The university’s economics department, considered a leading European research center, is a stronghold of serious economists. Gyorgy Matolcsy, the Orbán-appointed governor of the National Bank, regards many of these economists as his nemeses, on account of his rejection of mainstream economics. One member of Orbán’s opposition used to teach in CEU’s Department of Political Science. What’s more, CEU offers degrees in Gender Studies, a field attacked by Orbán’s coalition partners, the Christian Democrats.
A new election campaign of the far-right opposition reads: “While you are working, they are stealing.” In the coming months, Orbán is bound to continue his fight against the bogeymen he created in fear of becoming one himself.
How Soros continues to bother Central bankers even without taking a financial position..