Hungarians Protest Against Viktor Orbán

More than 100,000 Hungarians gathered in front of the parliament building in Budapest on April 14, where they peacefully protested for democracy, calling upon Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to step down.

The publication in the pro-government Figyelő magazine of a so-called ‘list of State enemies’ was for many demonstrators the final straw. Coming just days a few days after the election that assured Mr Orbán a fourth term in office, 200 people were named by the magazine as ‘George Soros’ mercenaries’, including many journalists, members of non-governmental organisations and academics from the Central European University.

Protesters are now calling for new elections, and have said that they will continue with their demonstrations. The organisers have called for another march next Saturday.

What concerns people the most is the fact that possible irregularities may have affected the voting. On April 8, between 7 pm and 11 pm, the central election bureau’s website crashed and it was impossible to check the results.

Hungary is scheduled to hold municipal elections next year. As things currently stand, the opposition will take the majority of districts in Budapest. However, political analyst Gábor Török believes that the ruling party, Fidesz, could use its two-thirds majority in parliament to change the constitution and amend the way mayors are elected, removing the power to do so from the population and instead handing it to parliament,

“We are the majority,” shouted the crowd on April 14, while watching a short video in which Mr Orbá, speaking in 2007, underlined the people’s right to dismiss a government if it acts to the detriment of the people.

Among the many opposition leaders spotted in the crowd were former Jobbik leader Gábor Vona, LMP’s leader Bernadette Szél and two former prime ministers: Ferenc Gyurcsány and Gordon Bajnai. A common theme was the need to fight Fidesz jointly.

Immediately after April 8’s election, the European Parliament issued a draft report accusing Hungary of undermining the independence of the judiciary, freedom of expression, and the rights of migrants and minorities. But it is unlikely that Hungary will receive any penalties as such action would require a unanimous vote among member nations and Poland, whose government is an ally of Mr Orbán, has vowed to protect Hungary from such action.