Tens of thousands of Hungarians protested long into the night against the government’s re-writing of the constitution, changes that the demonstrators say erode democracy.
The so-called new ‘Basic Law’ reduces the size of parliament and hands over key posts in the economy, police, judiciary and the military to allies of Hungary’s ruling political party.
“The main problem with the constitution is that it is destroying the constitutional order, the new Basic Law is really a one party basic law,” said trade unionist Kornel Arok, who was among the protesters. Another added: “My grandchildren tell me they will not stay in this country. They are young people who wanted to have a life here but now they can’t.”
There has been much criticism over a new media law which places greater control in the hands of those loyal to the leaders of the ruling centre-right Fidesz party.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has largely ignored the protests; with Fidesz enjoying a large parliamentary majority, the changes were easily approved.
According to the government the exercise has been a much needed recasting of laws and rules governing many walks of life. It says it completes a democratisation process started after the collapse of communism in 1989.