New parliament greeted with protests

In a demonstration organised by the Civil Opposition Roundtable, a few hundred people demonstrated on Tuesday against the newly elected parliament and government at the Parliament building on Budapest’s Kossuth Square.

At the event dubbed “We don’t want this parliament and government!”, demonstrators briefly clashed with police as they tried to break through the police cordon near the Parliament’s south entrance. On stages set up on the corner of Kossuth Square and Alkotmany Street, demonstrators talked about “renewing social solidarity” as the only way to stop “excessive power”. Demonstrators flew Hungarian and EU flags. One banner said, “The constitution is invalid!”

Former co-leader of the green LMP party, Akos Hadhazy, who was among the protesters, told journalists that the incoming parliament “cannot be called legitimate.” Hadhazy said he would take his oath as an elected lawmaker at a later date, and expressed regret over other opposition politicians attending the inaugural session. He said that by staying outside he wanted to “highlight how severe the situation is”.

Police on Tuesday morning escorted several demonstrators out of Kossuth Square in front of Parliament, the Budapest police headquarters (BRFK) has said on its website. On Monday evening, civil protestors formed a human chain around Parliament demanding that Hungary join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), the restoration of the previous constitution and election law as well as an independent public media.

BRFK said in a statement it had escorted the protestors out over personnel and facility security regulations, adding that it will close off Kossuth Square for cleanup and explosive detection work.

The commander of the Parliamentary Guard earlier ordered Kossuth Square to be closed off from 6pm on Monday to 2pm on Tuesday. In its reasoning it said parts of the programme concerning the new parliament’s inaugural session would take place outdoors. Those events are to be attended by the newly-elected MPs as well as several protected persons.

Meanwhile, the strongest opposition party, Jobbik said it was “sneaky” of the state to have closed off Kossuth Square with the use of manpower, adding, at the same time, that the party considered it a small victory that Parliament had not been cordoned off.

Jobbik spokesman Adam Mirkoczki told reporters that the people should also be allowed to express their opinion when they are criticising someone, and not just when they are celebrating someone. He said ruling Fidesz was trying to bar the people from criticising it. Jobbik, on the other hand, believes Hungary should remain a free country in which anyone can express their opinion irrespective of political affiliation.

Activists of the We Are Majority civil group staged another demonstration for democracy in front of Parliament on Tuesday afternoon. Speakers at the demonstration demanded that a “corrupt regime” should be removed and called for cooperation within the opposition. They also protested for a free press and better education.

In his address to participants, organiser Balazs Gulyas rejected ruling Fidesz’s “system based on inciting hatred” and urged that before the next municipal election the opposition should field joint candidates against nominees of the ruling parties. Attila B. Hidveghi, editor-in-chief of portal Romnet, said that the “indifference and apathy of people” should be removed and called for a joint effort by Roma and non-Roma to build a “predictable future and justice, without segregation or stigmatisation”. According to estimates by the organisers, the event was attended by 10,000 people. Some participants were carrying signs of the Democratic Coalition, Momentum, and the European Left, as well as the national colours and flags of the European Union. The protest was disrupted by a hailstorm, and many people sought refuge under the arcades of a nearby building.

Source and photo: MTI

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