Hungary PM Orban faces protests over fresh taxes
Thousands of Hungarians have protested in Budapest against Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s tax changes, claiming they will hammer small businesses.
Protests began on July 12 after the parliament approved legislation affecting hundreds of thousands of independent businesses.
The legislation scales back a tax scheme for small firms.
Hungary is largely dependent on Russian oil and gas imports and Orban declared a “state of danger” last Wednesday as energy supplies remain disrupted since the war in Ukraine.
One new rule is those who consume more than a set average amount of energy will have to pay at the market price rather than Hungary’s subsidised rate.
On Saturday protesters chanted, “Orban get lost”.
Peter Marki-Zay, who headed an unsuccessful six-party opposition coalition in April’s general election, told the protest that Orban’s campaign promises were lies.
Hungary faces soaring inflation and a plunging currency amid talks with the European Union over delayed funding from Brussels.
Hungary stands to receive billions of euros in grants under the EU Covid response fund but Brussels has expressed concerns over Hungary’s democratic standards and corruption.
Hungary also faces EU legal action over alleged curbs on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights and limits on Klubradio, the country’s only opposition radio news broadcaster.
The European Commission is referring Hungary to the European Court of Justice over sexual discrimination and for restricting the rights of Klubradio.
Hungary “singles out and targets content that ‘promotes or portrays’ what it refers to as ‘divergence from self-identity corresponding to sex at birth, sex change or homosexuality’ for individuals under 18”, the EU’s executive body said. It also targeted “disproportionate and non-transparent conditions to the renewal of Klubradio’s rights to use radio spectrum”.
Hungarian justice minister Judit Varga, posted on Facebook that she was surprised by the EU’s response to what Budapest regarded as a domestic issue. Of Klubradio, she said the independent state media regulator’s decisions on frequency rights had been confirmed by the courts. The body’s members are all appointed by Orban’s Fidesz party.
The cases follow an EU report this week citing “serious concerns” over the rule of law in Poland and Hungary. In April, Hungary became the first EU nation to get a formal notification under the bloc’s new rule-of-law budgetary powers, the so-called conditionality mechanism, in a process that could eventually deny the government of more than €40 billion in EU funding.
Hungary is worrying how it heat itself this winter. Picture credit: Wallpaper