An anti-government demonstration joined 500-700 people in Pécs Friday evening. The protest was organized by Momentum Mozgalom (Momentum Movement), a newcomer of Hungarian politics. The participants marched through the south western town of 130.000 inhabitants holding torches, flags and protest signs.
Although the demonstration was focussed on the so called “slave law” but quickly turned into an overall anti-government protest – just like the ones held in Budapest since Wednesday. Prominent members, local politicians of other opposition parties were also marching with the crowd, LMP-activists, MSZP and Jobbik representatives also appeared. The chants were popular ones from recent demonstrations – Orbán takarodj (Out with Orbán), Mocskos Fidesz (Dirty Fidesz), Demokráciát! (Democracy now!), Diktátor (Dictator), Nem félünk (We are not afraid) and Túlórázni jöttünk (We came to do overtime) were the most common.
“The way to protest is how the French did it” – said a young man behind me, wearing camouflage pants to his friend. A week earlier this may have sounded ridiculous, but now it sounded like a more realistic concept.
At the end of the march at downtown Kossuth square Ákos Hadházy, independent member of parliament spoke to the crowd. Among others the politician mentioned that a sense of underlying movement can be felt in Hungary, not only because the demonstrations of recent days, but also because of the numbers of people who signed his petition demanding that Hungary joined the EU Public Prosecutors Office.Addressing the street demonstrations, Hadházy said he was not sure if they will remain between the legal boundaries – but “stealing public funds is also against the law”. Hadházy criticised members of the media, calling them “mercenaries of the system” who spread lies and denigrate people on a daily basis.
Background Demonstrations started in Budapest on Wednesday after the Parliament accepted a new labour law – dubbed “slave law” by opposers. The changes would allow employers to maximize overtime hours in 400 hours per year and the payment could be delayed for 36 months – if the law is signed by president János Áder. The Fidesz-party led coalition holding the majority of votes in Parliament also pushed through laws setting up new courts that critics claim to be wired to Viktor Orbán’s government. After three days of rallies and clashes with the police in the Hungarian capital, major rural towns also organize protest and tens of thousands of demonstrators are expected to come together from all over the country on Sunday in Budapest.
Although original plans for the march were to finish at the square, demonstrators paid a visit to the nearby editorial office of local news media Dunántúli Napló. The office (operated by Mediaworks, strongly connected to Fidesz and the government) front was defaced with protest stickers and demonstrators also threw eggs at the closed entrance.
(Photos: Zsombor Pál, Ferenc Nimmerfroh, Ervin Gűth, Attila Babos)