Friday, September 30, 2022

Hungarians demonstrate against Orban’s reforms, skeptical of change

Around 1,000 Hungarians rallied against Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government on Saturday in the latest in a series of smaller demonstrations this week since his right-wing Fidesz party passed legislation sharply raising taxes on small businesses.

Nationalist Orban faces his toughest challenge yet since he took power in 2010, with inflation at its highest level in two decades, the country’s currency, the forint, falling to record lows and European Union funds in limbo amid a dispute over democratic standards.

The blockade of a bridge in Budapest on Tuesday failed to derail passage of a government motion to raise the tax rate for hundreds of thousands of small businesses, defying criticism from some business groups and opposition parties.

People participate in a rally under the motto "Stand for the Victims of the Orban Government" against the new tax rules in Budapest, Hungary, July 16, 2022.

People take part in a demonstration under the slogan “Defend the victims of the Orban government” against the new tax rules in Budapest, Hungary, on July 16, 2022.

On Wednesday, the Orban government also slashed a cap on utility prices for high-use households, reversing one of the 59-year-old prime minister’s signature policies in recent years due to a rise in electricity prices. electricity and gas in the midst of the war in Ukraine.

“I have an acquaintance who only heats with electricity. His monthly electricity bill has been 30,000 guilders ($75) so far, which is not much, but from now on he will pay 153,000,” said Miklos Nyiri, a 70-year-old worker. . -old pensioner at the rally.

“He is a pensioner, so the electricity bill will eat up the pension and they will be left to graze in the fields,” he said, adding that the small-scale protest is unlikely to force Orban to change course.

Saturday’s rally was called by the mayor of a small town, Peter Marki-Zay, Orban’s independent challenger, whose opposition alliance suffered a landslide defeat in parliamentary elections in April.

The low turnout for the rally indicated that despite lurking discontent with Orban’s latest reforms to shore up Hungary’s state finances, anti-government sentiment was struggling to gain traction even in Budapest, where the opposition had its best showing in april.

Ildiko Hende, 52, who works as a cleaner at a bank, also lamented the low turnout at the rally.

“I’ve been working for over 30 years, but what’s going on in this country right now is hell incarnate,” he said.

People participate in a rally under the motto "Stand for the victims of the Orban government" against the new tax rules near the Margaret Bridge in Budapest, July 16, 2022.

People take part in a demonstration under the slogan “Defend the victims of the Orban government” against the new tax rules near the Margaret Bridge in Budapest, on July 16, 2022.

Despite Orban capping fuel prices and some food staples, inflation hit its highest level in two decades at 11.7% year-on-year in June, forcing the central bank into its tightening cycle. steepest rates since the collapse of the communist regime.

Still, the guilder is near record lows against the euro, fueling inflationary pressures.

“I just want to be able to live a normal life, not having to spend pennies at the end of each month,” Hende said. “Prices are so high it drives you crazy. This really isn’t sustainable.”

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
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