Opposition politicians attended a demonstration in front of the public media headquarters in Budapest on Monday, calling for a “free and independent public media” as well as the abolishment of MTVA, the public media asset manager and fund.
Bertalan Toth, the Socialist Party’s leader, said that when the Fidesz won a two-thirds for a third time, it was time to conclude that the opposition’s parliamentary actions had been ineffective, and this is why they had disrupted the plenary session last Monday. “This fight must go on until the power holders understand that the people do not want repression,” he said. Lajos Kepli, a Jobbik MP, said one big positive was that opposition forces were joining together as never before. Sandor Szekely, a Democratic Coalition lawmaker, told the crowd not to allow Fidesz “to set up unlawful courts”.
Timea Szabo, co-leader of the Parbeszed party, vowed to continue protesting in front of the public media headquarters until their demands are met and their petition is read out. She said it had been unprecedented since the 1990 change in political system for MPs to be removed by force from a public building. Bernadett Szel, an independent MP, said violence had gone “to the next level” and she called for the interior minister to be sacked. She insisted that Prime Minister Viktor Orban was also ultimately responsible for the manhandling of parliamentarians in a public institution. Independent MP Akos Hadhazy told the crowd that with their demand for an independent media, the people had landed a blow to the holders of power.
Andras Fekete-Gyor, the leader of the Momentum Movement, said “the system built since 2010” was trammeling the people, ignoring their opinions and laughing in their faces.
Tamas Szekely, deputy head of the Federation of Hungarian Trade Unions, vowed to launch strikes nationwide if President Janos Ader signed the “slave law” on extending overtime.
The opposition parties are demanding the abandonment of the amendment to the labour code and the new administrative court system, Hungary’s accession to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office and the creation of an independent public media.
A part of the protesters remained in front of the headquarters after the speeches were over, waving national and EU banners as well as flags of the protesting parties.
Gulyas: Opposition parties carry “huge responsibility” for demo violence
Hungary’s opposition parties carry a huge responsibility for the outbreak of violence in the recent demonstrations in Budapest, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office said on Monday in an interview. Opposition officials are responsible for several demonstrators resorting to violence, Gergely Gulyas told the website Mandiner. Further, the opposition sees violence as a legitimate political tool, he said, adding that they themselves had thrown smoke bombs at the police.
He said the behaviour of opposition lawmakers in parliament on Wednesday was “illegal, aggressive and violent”. “People thought that if this kind of behaviour is okay in parliament then it’s okay on the street, too,” he said. Neither opposition MPs nor political activists can stand above the law, he added. Gulyas said that under the “lying Socialist government” during the 2006 street protests, Fidesz had condemned violence, saying that “the right to assembly should only operate in a constitutional framework, peacefully and lawfully.”
Addressing the issue of the recent law expanding the amount of overtime an employer can request, he said an employee’s voluntary consent was necessary. Moreover, overtime must be paid on a monthly basis, he added. Any extension of the timeframe for overtime payment is possible only if this is set out in the collective agreement between employers and employees, he added. Volunteering to do overtime in the current labour market environment would be a genuine choice, he said.
On the topic of the new law for setting up an administrative court system, Gulyas said limitations had been placed on the activities of the state authorities in the law. Citizens up to now only had a single recourse of appeal whereas from January 2020 they will have two, he said. So legal remedy against the state is being reinforced, he added.
As far as judicial appointments are concerned, he said local councils would have a decisive role in appointing new judges, putting forward three nominees which would then be selected by the justice minister for as a candidate to be chosen by the President of the Republic. If the minister deviates from the order of recommendation, he must provide a written justification, he said.
Fidesz condemns politicians’ ‘violence’ at public media headquarters
Any attempt by politicians to “forcefully interfere” with operations of the (public) media is unacceptable, the communications director of ruling Fidesz said on Monday, in connection with developments at the public media headquarters during the previous night.
Balazs Hidveghi insisted that protesting opposition deputies that spent the night at public media foundation MTVA headquarters “used the excuse of obtaining information for setting off the fire alarm and violently attacking public TV staff”. The opposition deputies abused their powers and authorisations arising from their mandate, Hidveghi said. He said that “their obvious goal was to intimidate journalists” and added that “these are well-known methods of the pro-immigration Soros network”.
Source and photo: MTI