Faced with rising far right, Soros looks West
BERLIN (Reuters) – George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, best known for funding civil rights activists across Eastern Europe and the developing world, are increasingly turning their attention to affluent western Europe in response to the rise of the far right there.
Officials at the hedge fund magnate and philanthropist’s charity, which disburses around a billion dollars a year, said the nationalist right’s recent electoral successes were triggering the same contraction in the space for independent activism that had earlier been seen in Eastern Europe.
In southern France, the foundation has stepped in to replace funding to local migrant rights and anti-discrimination groups whose financing was frozen when Marine Le Pen’s then-National Front, since renamed National Rally, took power in a number of municipalities.
With Germany’s anti-immigration Alternative for Germany set to make gains in regional elections across the country’s east in the autumn, the foundation is preparing to take similar steps, said Selmin Caliskan, a director in its new Berlin office.
“We are now looking into the possibility of having a support and solidarity emergency fund for civil society actors in eastern Germany who share our values,” she said.
“Everyone who works there on racism, on anti-Semitism, on helping and supporting migrants and asylum seekers, people like the Red Cross, they all have this concern that their funding will be lost,” she added.