“Let’s stand together for those on KATA, for teachers, police, health care workers, pensioners and all those who the system reduces to poverty,” appealed former opposition prime minister candidate Péter Márki-Zay to an assembled crowd at the Pest Embankment, close to Jászai Mari Square on Saturday. Márki-Zay’s Everybody’s Hungary Movement had called a demonstration at 5:00pm to protest changes to the KATA tax scheme and the end of the government’s policy of subsidizing cheap utility bills.
Speeches at the event lasted for two hours, with speakers going into detail about the authoritarian methods Fidesz uses to run the country and the lies the ruling party told in the election campaign. Demonstrators occasionally booed when they heard something disagreeable, such as when the 650,000 Ft. (US $1,635) ministerial pay raise was mentioned, or when a speaker reminded the crowd that the government intends to organize “Europe’s biggest fireworks display” on the August 20 national holiday.
Péter Márki-Zay, the last speaker to take the stage, pointed out that it took a less than a hundred days to reveal that everything the government claimed in the campaign was a lie. He described the government measures taken in the past week as Viktor Orbán’s “Öszöd Speech,” a reference to former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány’s notorious, expletive-laden talk that set off the violent 2006 protests.
The opposition politician also sent a message to Prime Minister Orbán with a well-known Hungarian proverb: “The pitcher goes to the well until it breaks.” Péter Márki-Zay said he supported those who voted for Fidesz, but those who still believe Fidesz’s lies are a lost cause.
At the end of the event, around a thousand protestors marched to nearby Margit Bridge. Police did not intervene as protesters shut down the bridge. Traffic was blocked on both sides as the crowd chanted, “Dirty Fidesz!”
Another group of protestors headed into central Budapest, and shortly after 11:00pm, a crowd of around 500-600 headed to Kossuth Square, in front of Parliament, where around 30-40 police with riot gear awaited them.
“This will go on every day!” the crowd then began chanting. [Népszava, Telex]
One can only hope that these protests can start a process of growing civil consciousness in Hungary.
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