Protesters demand change in Hungary

Tens of thousands of Hungarians took to the streets during the weekend to protest against the re-election of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava
Protesters demand change in Hungary - NewsMavens
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Why this story matters:

Last week, Orbán secured a fourth term after a controversial campaign that targeted migrants, NGOs and George Soros.

The elections results were followed by bewilderment and hopelessness for the shattered opposition, but they quickly regrouped to devise a concrete plan of action.

The protesters had specific demands: a recount of the vote, a new election law, free press, and independent public media.

According to the organizers, there could have been as many as 100,000 people marching. Manifestly, Hungarians who did not vote for Fidesz are concerned that the party could abuse its two-thirds majority in parliament.

It is unlikely that the government -- which announced that its first action will be to pass the Stop Soros bill -- will take the protesters' demands into consideration right away. However, the opposition seems determined to maintain pressure, and another large scale protest was announced for next weekend.

If the protests do not abate, and if Hungary remains in the center of international attention, the hope is that the Prime Minister will eventually have to pay attention to the will of those who didn't vote for him.

Details from the story:

  • According to some estimates, this was the biggest anti-government protest since 2010.
  • The pro-government media tried to delegitimize the protest before they happened. Many news outlets in the hands of loyal oligarchs forecast violence on the streets.
  • The march -- just like every anti-Orban protest in the past -- was completely peaceful.
  • The next protest will be held on April 21.
  • Openly criticizing the Orbán-regime is a risky business. A pro-government weekly, Figyelő, recently published a list of "Soros's Army”. The list included members of NGOs, academics and intellectuals, among others.

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Paula Szewczyk
Paula SzewczykWysokie Obcasy, Europe
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