Hungary far right demands exit from EU, burns flag at rally
Thousands protested against the EU Saturday at a rally of the far-right Jobbik party, calling for Hungary’s exit from the bloc and adding pressure on the government which is seeking a funding deal with the EU and IMF to avert insolvency.
Two MPs of Jobbik, the second biggest opposition party in Hungarian parliament, set an European Union flag on fire at the protest in front of the European Commission offices in Budapest.
“This week the EU declared war on Hungary in a very harsh and open way,” Csanad Szegedi, a Jobbik member of European Parliament told the crowd of around 2,000 demonstrators.
After talks with lenders were derailed last month over a set of disputed laws, a plunging forint currency and spiking bond yields forced Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s conservative government to back down and try to seek a fast agreement.
Orban is now reluctantly trying to make amends to lenders in order to secure a funding deal, which Hungary needs to be able to finance its debts from markets at a time when its economy is heading for a possible recession this year.
The EU has piled pressure on the government to change controversial legislation on its central bank and judiciary, and even raised the prospect of suspending vital EU funds to the economy if Orban does not make budget deficit cuts sustainable.
Orban also came under pressure from the United States which voiced concerns over democratic freedoms, after his Fidesz party pushed ahead to pass measures which critics say weaken public institutions such as the top court, and cement Fidesz’ powers.
Many supporters of nationalist Jobbik believe the government should not bow to international pressure.
“Since we joined the EU we have not seen any advantages from that, Hungary should go its own way and keep its national sovereignty,” Attila Gyalog, 24, said at the rally.
“Not only us, but many other countries believe now that they could be better off outside the EU,” said Gyorgy Lillik, 63.
Hungary will have to change course in a significant way for the Commission to give the green light to aid talks. The EU’s executive is expected to announce its verdict on some key Hungarian laws next week when it finishes its legal analysis.