Thousands of Pro-Government Hungarians Urge Resistance to EU
Tens of thousands of Hungarians joined a protest to support Prime Minister Viktor Orban as the European Union pressed the country’s government to change laws that have blocked talks on an international bailout.
Demonstrators marched through the center of Budapest to parliament yesterday in an event organized by a group including Zsolt Bayer, a journalist with Magyar Hirlap newspaper and a founding member of Orban’s Fidesz party. The Interior Ministry said almost 400,000 people attended, while news website Index estimated the turnout at more than 100,000.
“We say yes to Europe but no to what Europe is doing to Hungary and the Hungarian government,” Bayer said in a video message posted on the Internet before the rally. Organizers marching at the front of the crowd carried a banner saying “We won’t become a colony,” a slogan Bayer repeated outside Hungary’s neo-gothic parliament.
Orban is trying to revive bailout negotiations with the bloc and the International Monetary Fund after discussions broke down in December over his refusal to change laws that both institutions said may weaken monetary-policy independence. Orban offered to change disputed legislation after the EU threatened a lawsuit against Hungary for encroaching on the central bank’s independence and political meddling with the judiciary and the data-protection authority.
The demonstration was the largest mass event of its kind since the collapse of communism more than 20 years ago, news website nol.hu said.