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.