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Renewed anti-Orban protests in Hungary

April 21, 2018

Huge crowds have rallied once more in Budapest against newly re-elected Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Protesters accuse him of taking control of the media and turning it into his propaganda instrument.

Anti-government protesters in Budapest
Image: Reuters/B. Szabo

Protesters took to the streets of the Hungarian capital on Saturday in the second mass anti-government demonstration since Prime Minister Viktor Orban won a landslide election victory on April 8.

Many of the demonstrators chanted "democracy" and waved Hungarian and European Union flags as they marched through the city to a rally.

The protesters accuse Orban and his right-wing nationalist Fidesz party, which won two-thirds of parliamentary seats at the polls, of taking control of state media and using them to gain an election advantage.

Their criticisms have been echoed by observers from the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), who said the election campaign was marked by media bias.

Tens of thousands already held an anti-Orban rally in Budapest last Saturday, and more demonstrations are planned in provincial cities in the coming weeks, organizers say.

Demonstrator holding up a "Stop Orban" banner in Budapest
The protesters fear an erosion of democracy under OrbanImage: Reuters/B. Szabo

Fighting NGOs

Orban won his election victory on a vehement anti-immigration platform that has set him at odds with the European Union.

Read more: European right greets Viktor Orban's Hungary win

Since his win, Orban has also stepped up his campaign against nongovernmental organizations linked to US billionaire George Soros, whom Orban accuses of wanting to destroy Europe through mass immigration.

George Soros
Soros is Orban's particular bogeymanImage: Getty Images/S. Gallup

The parliament is soon to vote on a controversial "Stop Soros" package of bills that would impose a 25-percent tax on foreign donations to NGOs that "support" illegal immigration.

The legislation would also see NGO staff possibly prevented from entering border areas and "security tests" introduced for the organizations.

Soros' foundation said on Friday it could leave Hungary if the laws are passed.

Read more: In Hungary, Viktor Orban's favorite mayor goes on a shopping spree

tj/jm (Reuters, AFPE)

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