Thousands rally against Orban
The European Union’s Ode to Joy anthem rang out in Budapest as tens of thousands protested against Hungary’s Eurosceptic Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
They condemned what they said was an unfair electoral system that returned Orban’s nationalist Fidesz party for a third term with a landslide.
“I would like to live in a system where a free media is not shot down and where there is money for the important things, not only for the Fidesz party,” said one protester.
“I think the most important thing is to live in a transparent democracy,” said a young female protester said.
“The other thing that really matters to me is that I want to live in this country so I think that I have to be here with all those people.”
Orban won two-thirds of parliamentary seats with just 49 per cent of the vote. Fidesz candidates won 91 of 106 single-member constituencies, most of them rural.
Left-wing opposition parties won two-thirds of the voting districts in Budapest.
Support for Fidesz was at just 37 per cent among under-30s, rising to 46 per cent among over-50s, according to think-tank Median.
Demonstrators want a recount, free media, new election law and better cooperation among opposition parties, instead of the bickering seen in the run-up to the vote.
The opposition’s poor showing was at least partly of its own making as rival candidates split the anti-Fidesz vote in five districts in Budapest, where Orban won slim victories.
Orban ran his campaign almost exclusively on the threat posed to Hungary by immigration. He has accused the Hungarian-American billionaire and philanthropist George Soros, a familiar hate-figure of right-wing governments, of plotting to bring “tens of millions” of Muslim migrants to Europe and erode its Christian heritage and borders.
The protest was among the biggest in Hungary in recent years, similar in size to a protest against Orban’s plan to tax internet use four years ago and a pro-Fidesz rally called by Orban supporters shortly before the election.
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the election did not offer the opposition a level playing field with a host of problems marring a vote although it generally respected fundamental rights.
The rally’s organisers posted on Facebook: “Fidesz’s election system and the government’s hate campaign have pushed the majority into a one-third minority.”
As demonstrators chanted: “We are the majority.”
Migrants in Hungary in 2015. Picture credit: Wikimedia