Anti-government protesters have rallied outside Hungary’s parliament in Budapest after a day of strikes and demonstrations. An estimated 50,000 people gathered for a peaceful protest, their aim to persuade the country’s prime minister to halt his economic reforms. The action is backed by the main opposition party, whose leadership says the ruling socialist coalition could be forced out in six to nine months.
Hungary’s premier Ferenc Gyurcsany has promised to cut the country’s economic budget deficit, which is the highest in Europe, and to reform the rigid state sector.
While his proposals have earned him plaudits from the EU, tax increases and price rises have made him unpopular with many voters. Earlier in the day rail unions went on strike. Other workers followed their lead, and during a six-hour stoppage roads were blocked and some schools shut.
Although the socialists have seen their poll ratings fall to 15 percent, the government says it won’t budge.