Thousands of Hungarians have once again marched to the parliament in protest against Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s clampdown on a top foreign university and non-governmental organisations.
Since April there has been a string of street demonstrations in Budapest, triggered by a new law that could force the Central European University funded by US financier George Soros to leave the country.
“There were 40 years of communism here, that was enough. We would like a better future, I don’t understand why they want to drag us back to the past. We want to look ahead, we are here, because people don’t feel that they are capable of doing something alone, but we are many not just a few now,” said one protester.
Protests grow against #Hungary govt attacks on NGOs & #CEU https://t.co/v9PLUgJ2fO
humanrights1st</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/ceuhungary">ceuhungary
ilana_u</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/almodozo">almodozo
SPPCEU</a></p>— Brian Dooley (dooley_dooley) May 21, 2017
Orsolya Karafiáth who is a celebrated Hungarian poet and author was firm in her commitment to participating in the protests:
“I think we should come to all these demonstrations, no matter how many we are. Fortunately our number is growing, and we will be even more soon. If people see that it is possible to organise ourselves and that we can raise our voice, then they’ll see we can force some changes.”
In the past seven years, Orban has eliminated checks on his power by taking control of the public media, curbing the powers of the constitutional court, and placing loyalists in top positions at public institutions.
With parliamentary elections due next year, critics claim Hungary’s nationalist prime minister has launched a crusade against Soros whose liberal and internationalist world view is at odds with that of the nationalist-minded Hungarian leader.
Reporting for euronews, Gábor Kiss explained:
“In recent weeks the European Parliament and the European Commission have sent more and more serious warnings to the Hungarian government for breaching the founding values of the Union. The demonstrators’ message to Prime Minister Viktor Orban is the following: CEU should remain in Budapest, civil society should remain in Hungary, and Hungary should remain in the EU.”
Orban has rejected accusations Budapest was threatening the Central European University (CEU) and dismissed Soros, whose Open Society Foundations has been active in Hungary for three decades, as a “financial speculator”.