Once again, several thousands of people protested Hungary’s government in Budapest on Friday night. The series of protests were sparked by the two laws passed by Parliament last Wednesday on the scandalous session characterised by the whistles and sirens coming from opposition MPs. Today’s protests come after President János Áder signed both the Overtime Act and the law establishing the new administrative courts overseen by the Minister of Justice.
Friday’s events began with the tongue-in-cheek National Christmas Peace Rally organised by the satirical Hungarian Two-tailed Dog Party (MKKP). The crowd started and finished their march at Kossuth square, speakers mocked the rhetorics of Fidesz by sarcastically expressing their gratitude for the government’s actions, since as their Facebook event read, there is much to be grateful for:
“People finally get to work eight days a week, the independent judiciary will no longer be a nuisance, the homeless and the annoying foreign universities are gone, and Soros, Soros, Soros.”
Today there were protests in Tatabánya, Székesfehérvár, and Dunaújváros as well.
MKKP’s march was followed by another march from the Parliament. This time, the organisers were Hungarian trade unions, civilians, and all of the opposition parties. The crowd walked all the way to János Áder’s presidential residence, the Sándor Palace. The speeches commenced after the approximately 5000 protesters filled the square in front of the building. All of them emphasised that this is only the beginning of the protests.
- Anna Donáth, VP of Momentum said that the resistance is no longer the cause of Budapest only since people were protesting everywhere all over the week, and that is something unprecedented. She said the protests will continue 5 January 2019. She said 2019 will be the year of resistance.
- Antal Csárdi, MP (LMP) stated the protests will continue until everyone in Hungary can make a living for eight hours of work every day instead of being forced to do overtime to earn a living wage.
- Zoltán Gábor Szűcs, a sociologist at the Hungarian Academy of Science (MTA) drew parallels amongst workers and academics. He said that currently the salary of MTA researchers is not a right but something that depends on the grace of the minister, and this same sort of dependence on power is institutionalised by the Overtime Act.
- MP Bernadett Szél said “Fidesz remains in power until they can divide and conquer. But this era has to end.”
- MP Ákos Hadházy shared the stage with Szél, and spoke about the three typical comments he heard since the protests started, and about his responses to them: “The law was already signed, why bother?” He said the law can still be abolished, and they will fight for that. “What happened at the national TV was merely theatre.” He said that would only be true if they wouldn’t keep fighting for the 5 demands, which they will. “You are the mob controlled by George Soros.” To this one, he simply said “Horsecock.”
After the speeches, the organisers asked people to leave the square peacefully and go home. Some threw toilet paper towards the building shouting “Sign this, János,” later a smoke grenade and a couple of bottles were thrown amongst the police, but the generally peaceful crowd more-or-less dispersed by midnight.
(Cover photo: “Orbán’s a genius,” reads a sign featuring an image of Nicolae Ceaușescu at MKKP’s Peace Rally on 21 December 2018. Photo: János Bődey /Index)