Tens Of Thousands In Hungary Protest Far-Right Leader Viktor Orbán

Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through Hungary’s capital of Budapest on Saturday to protest Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government, as critics warn the country could slide further into illiberalism. 

Orbán’s radical right, nationalist Fidesz party won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections last Sunday. With a two-thirds majority in the legislature, Fidesz now has the power to make changes to the country’s constitution.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe criticized the election for “intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric, media bias and opaque campaign financing.”

The campaign saw Orbán rail against migration and push the idea that unseen “foreign interests” were seeking to undermine the government. The prime minister also made Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros a focal point of the campaign, claiming that Soros was conspiring to bring hundreds of thousands of migrants into the country and putting up anti-Soros posters around the country.

Opponents fear that Fidesz’s parliamentary majority will allow Orbán to accelerate his attacks on democratic institutions and civil society, including pushing through so-called “Stop Soros” laws that would put harsh restrictions on non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International.

People march in protest against Prime Minister Orbán in Budapest on April 14. (Bernadett Szabo / Reuters)People march in protest against Prime Minister Orbán in Budapest on April 14. (Bernadett Szabo / Reuters)

In the week since the election, a pro-government magazine owned by one of Orbán’s allies has published a list of 200 people it accused of being agents for Soros. The roster included journalists, human rights workers and university professors. 

A major opposition newspaper and an English language independent news site both announced they were shutting down just days after the vote. Orbán and his allies control most of the country’s media, and the closings only add to the prime minister’s grip on how Hungarians receive their information.

As the election results came in last Sunday night, there were no major protests but instead acknowledgments of defeat and resignations from opposition parties. Only a small crowd of young people gathered in front of Parliament to demonstrate against Orbán, before moving on to hold a sit-in at a major Budapest intersection under the lights of police cars. The effort petered out as the night dragged on.

But less than a week later, Hungarians came out in droves Saturday to voice their opposition to the government. Crowds of protesters moved through the streets of Budapest, holding anti-Orbán signs and waving Hungarian flags. The demonstration was one of the largest in Hungary in recent years.

Europe is watching developments in Hungary closely, as Orbán’s open defiance of European Union policies and increasing consolidation of power present a model that other far-right nationalist politicians and governments may seek to emulate.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

Related Video:  Orbán Wins Election Due to Migration Issue

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Viktor Orban: We’ve received one of the strongest mandates in the last 30 years



 


The Hungarian people voted in favour of national sovereignty in Sunday’s general election, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told an international press conference in Parliament on Tuesday.

Assessing the election campaign, Orban said it was voters who had determined the most important topics: migration and the question of national sovereignty. And they said they should be the only ones to decide whom they wish to live together with, “and we must respect this decision”, the prime minister added.

Orban said there would be “significant changes” in his new government. The cabinet will be reshuffled “with mostly new people.” He said the new government could be formed in 3-4 weeks’ time. “We don’t intend to continue with the previous term but instead open a new one,” Orban said, adding that the terms of all of his ministers and state secretaries had expired. Asked if he could name any ministers who would stay on in the new cabinet, he said: “I could, but I don’t want to.”

Hungary is a country that wants a strong Europe of strong member states, the prime minister said. He said his government had to stand by a “Europe of nations” rather than a “united states of Europe”.

Orban said the size of his Fidesz party’s support was clear, “and we received a strong mandate; in fact one of the strongest — if not the strongest — of the last 30 years.” The prime minister said his new government would work to improve Hungary’s demographic indicators.

Asked about an opposition demonstration announced for this coming Saturday, Orban said: “The people have decided and that’s all there is to it.”

Asked about the possibility of central bank governor Gyorgy Matolcsy taking up a role in the new government, Orban said that since Sunday, he had only spoken to Matolcsy about market reactions to his victory. The prime minister said he had received “reassuring answers” from Matolcsy and that they had not discussed anything else.

Orban said the new government’s economic policy would follow “the economic school of Matolcsy”, whose premise is that the country’s finances must be in order. Therefore, Hungary’s public debt is expected to decline further, he added.

On the topic of the “Stop Soros” bill, he said the proposal had been submitted to parliament before the election so that voters would be able to make their decision knowing that, and this fact boosted its legitimacy. “We feel empowered to pass it,” he said.

Asked about whether he had received congratulations from Hungarian opposition parties, Orban said he was of the school of thought that if someone loses then it is normal to give their congratulations. “There are other schools of thought,” he added.

The prime minister noted that President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker had congratulated him by phone and he had invited Juncker to visit Hungary, and his visit was expected within a week or two.

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"Never underestimate the power of the dark side" Viktor Orban









 






Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has apparently called on Hungarians to beware of the power of the Sith in his latest speech on migration crisis in Europe. He also declared Eastern and Central Europe the last ‘migrant-free zone.’

“We should never underestimate the power of the dark side,” the prime minister said, referencing Star Wars as he referred to the plots of those behind the “migrant invasion,” adding that they “have no solid structure but extensive networks.”

The EU and some of its key member states have been “taken hostage” by a “speculative financial Empire” through an orchestrated “invasion of new immigrants,” Orban said in Budapest on Monday, adding that this mysterious “financial power” was behind the “latest great migration of peoples” that flooded Europe with “millions of migrants.”

“This plan was developed to make Europe a mixed [multicultural] continent,” the prime minister said at an event commemorating the anniversary of the 1956 anti-Soviet uprising in Hungary, adding that “only we managed to stand up against it,” apparently referring to the governments of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which have taken a staunch anti-migrant stance and refused to accept refugee quotas imposed by Brussels.

Orban then declared Central and Eastern Europe the continent’s last “migrant-free zone.” The Hungarian leader expressed the hope that, by acting together, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia could potentially stop mass immigration.

He went on to say that the ultimate goal of the massive inflow of migrants into Europe consisted of depriving it of its Christian and national identity. The prime minister then stressed that Europe should remain “safe, fair, civic, Christian and free” and should regain the splendor he said it had before embracing multiculturalism.

Orban’s remarks concerning the “financial power” behind the mass immigration apparently referred to the Hungarian-born US billionaire George Soros. The Hungarian prime minister has already accused Soros of seeking to create a “new, mixed, Muslimized Europe” in July. He also repeatedly blamed the tycoon of fueling the refugee crisis in Europe, adding that “Brussels has come under George Soros’s influence.”

Orban’s words were echoed by Hungarian MP Andras Aradszki, who claimed that “Soros and his comrades want to destroy the independence and values of nation states” by bringing migrants into Europe. He slammed the billionaire by calling him “Satan” earlier this month.

Orban’s latest remarks also come as Central and Eastern European countries witness a shift to the right. In Austria, two anti-migrant parties took the first two places in the parliamentary election, and are now expected to form the ruling coalition.

Just a week later, parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic ended up in a victory of an anti-establishment movement headed by a local billionaire dubbed “the Czech Donald Trump,” who is particularly known for his severe criticism of the EU’s immigration policies.

Hungary itself is engaged in a bitter row with the EU over the refugee relocation quotas, together with Poland and Slovakia. The issue dates back to the EU decision made in 2015 to rehouse some 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy over a period of two years, only around 27,700 of whom have been settled so far.

Budapest also faces pressure over the fence that covers one-quarter of the length of its borders and was designed to stop the inflow of migrants and asylum seekers at the peak of the refugee crisis. Despite repeated criticism from many European countries, Hungary refuses to remove it and claims that it has helped to cut the inflow of migrants by 99.7 percent since 2015.

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