Ma­jor Anti-Or­ban Demo in Hun­gary


BU­DAPEST (Dis­patches) - Tens of thou­sands of Hun­gar­i­ans thronged Bu­dapest on Satur­day in anger at strong­man Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Or­ban’s crush­ing re-elec­tion vic­tory.

The crowd, around 100,000 strong ac­cord­ing to or­gan­is­ers and AFP re­porters, marched through the city cen­tre in sun­shine to par­lia­ment for a rally under the motto “We are the ma­jor­ity”.

“We want to live in a state of law, where checks and bal­ances are present.. We want to live in a real democ­racy,” said protest or­gan­iser Vik­tor Gyet­vai, 20, a stu­dent.

“If the de­mands are not met then we can­not live in this coun­try, this is our last chance to do some­thing for this coun­try,” he told AFP.

Many of the de­mon­stra­tors, most of whom were young, were chant­ing “democ­racy” and bran­dish­ing Hun­gar­ian and Euro­pean Union flags.

They de­manded a re­count, a non-par­ti­san pub­lic me­dia ser­vice, fresh elec­tions and for the op­po­si­tion to unite. Singing the na­tional and EU an­thems, they vowed to re­turn for an­other demon­stra­tion next week.

There was a strong po­lice pres­ence, with riot of­fi­cers at the ready, rows of po­lice vans in streets nearby and a he­li­copter over­head. The demo re­mained peace­ful, how­ever.

“If there is no new free and fair elec­tion I don’t see any other op­tion but to make plans to leave,” said An­drea Varkonyi, 26.

The fiercely na­tion­al­ist Or­ban, 54, a “hero” for US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer strate­gist Steve Ban­non, se­cured a third straight term in the elec­tion last Sun­day.

He has been in power since 2010 and ac­cord­ing to crit­ics has curbed ju­di­cial in­de­pen­dence, muz­zled the press and rigged the elec­toral sys­tem.

Cam­paign­ing hard against the “poi­son” of im­mi­gra­tion, Or­ban’s over­whelm­ing vic­tory saw his Fidesz party se­cure around half the vote.

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