The Hungarian opposition parties continue to organize protests against Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s so-called ‘slave law’ which allows companies to demand 400 hours of yearly overtime of workers and pay these out only three years later. With an absolute majority of some 70% in parliament in widespread support across the country for Mr Orban’s very move, the government is cracking down hard against protesters.
On multiple days, the police used tear gas against the protesters. It is the strongest demonstration against Mr Orban’s government yet as all opposition parties have grouped together to protest the 'slave law.'
The demonstrations mainly focus on the opposition’s anger over Prime Minister Viktor Orbán who is accused of governing autocratically. In ice-cold Budapest, more than 10,000 Hungarians gather daily in front of the parliament building for a demonstration with the somewhat playful title: "Happy Christmas, Mr. Prime Minister."
However, the atmosphere has become grim as of late.
Opponents of Orban, mainly higher educated urban dwellers, blame the prime minister for robbing the country. They claim that many people around Mr Orban have become very wealthy, while the minimum wage in Hungary is the lowest in the EU.
After the demonstration on Sunday, a group went to the state broadcasting building to announce their demands. There, it came to clashes with the police.
The demonstration was organized by left-wing parties and students. Other people in Hungary also took to the streets over the weekend.
The protest in Budapest still continues. The protesters who are waving European flags want, among other things, the preservation of the independent judiciary.
In addition to the 'slave law', their anger also focuses on an adopted law to establish new administrative courts that rule on sensitive issues such as the electoral law, protests and corruption. The demonstrators see these courts mainly as places where decisions are taken in favour of the government.
Orban has often collided with the European Commission in Brussels because he has built a system that his critics regard as autocratic. With that system he has strengthened his control over the courts and the media.
The government has a two-thirds majority and can in fact push through what they want. Orban accused 'foreign mercenaries' paid by the Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros for the latest demonstrations.
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