Opposition parties call for unity, further protests

Representatives of opposition parties called for cooperation and further protests against the government at a demonstration in front of Parliament on Friday.

Addressing a few hundred participants, Socialist board head Agnes Kunhalmi warned that the government could “resort to banning the opposition” if ruling Fidesz wins the upcoming European Parliamentary elections. Anna Donath, deputy leader of the Momentum Movement, said that the government had “crossed all borders” with its recent amendment to the labour code, and insisted that the opposition must “take solidarity with all social groups”. Conservative Jobbik’s Andrea Varga-Damm urged that the government should be ousted and said that its members were “despots on the backs of the people” and that Prime Minister Viktor Orban is “surrounded by Rasputins”. She also said that the prime minister could “send the police and the military against the people any time”.

After the speeches a few hundred demonstrators left Kossuth Square, marched round the city, then returned to Parliament. Some of the crowd, including protesters wearing masks, pelted different objects at the riot police that formed several lines on the steps of Parliament to protect the building. After repeated calls to stop the action, police used tear gas to disperse the crowd and arrested three men, police.hu said. Police noted that during Wednesday and Thursday demonstrations 14 officers had been injured. Three demonstrators attacking the police line have been arrested, the police website said late on Friday.

According to a recent Szazadveg poll 83 percent of Hungarians reject “aggressive behaviours” during demonstrations and violence against police. Respondents were asked by the pro-government think tank about recent protests; 89 percent of conservative respondents and 73 percent of Leftist supporters condemned violence against police, while 82 percent of non-aligned respondents also voiced the same opinion. Two-thirds of respondents in a recent poll voiced disapproval with “scandalous” behaviour by opposition deputies in parliament, pro-government pollster Nezopont reported on Friday. Fully 66 percent, the pollster said, voiced the opinion that “a deputy cannot behave like that”, referring to developments on Wednesday when opposition deputies attempted to thwart a vote on contested changes to the labour code.

The opposition parties, the unions and the organisers of recent demonstrations are coordinating plans for “nationwide protests until Christmas and long-term resistance” to prevent the “slave law” from taking effect, Bence Tordai, lawmaker of the opposition Parbeszed party, said on Saturday. The Socialist Party insists that the opposition forces should “resort to all forms of resistance”, and authorised its local organisations and politicians to participate in demonstrations staged anywhere in the country against recent amendments to the labour code. Socialist leader Bertalan Toth told a press conference on Saturday that “the government hates workers”, which is reflected by the recent passage of the “slave law”, raising the maximum of mandatory overtime work to an annual 400 hours and allowing employers to pay for those hours over three-year periods. Unless the government repeals the law, it will be responsible “for whatever may happen”, he added. Through the recently adopted “slave law”, the government has “sided with multinational companies rather than with the people”, Erzsebet Schmuck, deputy group leader of the opposition LMP party, said on Saturday.

Any form of street violence is unacceptable in the rule of law, the government spokesman said on Saturday, in connection with anti-government protests in recent days. Istvan Hollik said that “aggressive political activists have no respect for Christmas, for the laws, nor do they respect other, law-abiding citizens”. Hollik associated violence during the protests with the opposition Democratic Coalition and Socialist parties and said that it was “shocking and irresponsible”.

Source and photo: MTI

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