The law on paper and in practice in Viktor Orbán’s Hungary

Here I will give a recent example of the insidious nature of the Orbán regime. According to the new constitution’s Article VIII(1) “Every person shall have the right to peaceful assembly.” Nice and democratic, isn’t it? Surely, nobody could find fault with it. But let’s see how freedom of assembly works in practice.

March 15, the national holiday celebrating the outbreak of the 1848 revolution and war of independence, is approaching. If you recall, last year a Facebook-organized group called One Million for Freedom of the Press, lately nicknamed Milla, organized the largest pro-democratic demonstration up to that point. (It was subsequently surpassed in size by the anti-government crowd who gathered in front of the Opera House to protest the new constitution on January 2.) According to reports the Milla demonstration last year, appropriately held on Szabad Sajtó út (Free Press Road), was larger than the official celebration in front of the National Museum where the government hired young people to enthusiastically applaud Viktor Orbán’s speech.

Surely, the Orbán regime didn’t want a repeat performance this year, especially since Fidesz support stands at its lowest ever: 16%. The normal place for the official celebration of March 15 is the National Museum and Kossuth Square in front of the parliament building. But this year they announced to the Budapest police that they also want to celebrate at Ferenciek tere, Március 15-e tér, Erzsébet híd, the area around the office of the MPs (Fehér Ház), the road to the Vár, Horváth kert in Buda, the National Theater, and the area around the Művészetek Palotája. Here is a map from the blog orulunkvincent of the areas claimed by Fidesz.

But this is not the end of the story. Naturally, the City of Budapest, now under Fidesz leadership, also has to celebrate. So came Lord Mayor István Tarlós’s demands for places of celebration: the whole of Andrássy út, Deák tér, Hősök tere, Clark Ádám tér, Blaha Lujza tér. The areas reserved for the city are marked in blue.

Then naturally there are the areas where demonstrations cannot be held because they would seriously intefere with the traffic flow of the city. These are marked in green.

And finally, if you look very hard, you can find a small little speck on the following map in white on the Pest side of the Szabadság híd that would be big enough for a gathering of about 5,000 people.

Milla map4

To add insult to injury, the government reserved these spaces not only for this year but also for next year. This is how democratic rights are honored in practice in Orbán’s Hungary.

Ágnes Vadai (DK) held a press conference yesterday condemning the undemocratic practices of the government. After all, the government is hindering the free exercise of one of the basic democratic rights laid down in the constitution. Vadai didn’t mince words: “While Viktor Orbán piously defends himself in the European Parliament and while the Hungarian media portrays his performance there in a positive light, saying how polite he was … what is happening here is an outrage … The triple junk [bóvli] prime minister excludes the opposition from all symbolic squares of March 15.”

MSZP reacted similarly. Zoltán Lukács, deputy leader of the parliamentary caucus, released a communiqué in which he also connected Viktor Orbán’s performance in Strasbourg and the stark reality at home. “Viktor Orbán yesterday in Strasbourg lied to the members of the European Parliament about Hungarian democracy and today he takes away another right of the opposition. It is clear, and this is not the first time, that Fidesz is behaving in a cowardly fashion.”

But the best answer came from the Milla Group. “Following the example of our great leader, we announced our intention to hold our customary demonstrations on March 15 and October 23 on Szabad Sajtó út for the next 100 years.” The request was signed by Péter Juhász, the group’s spokesman, who told the Budapest police that in case “his health might be impaired sometime down the road, he assures the authorities that he will appoint someone else to represent the group and take responsibility for the proper conduct of the participants.”

This is what Milla’s letter to the Budapest police looked like:

And this is just the first page of the opus. One must admit these guys have a good sense of humor. However, they will not be satisfied with making fun of Orbán and his government. According to Péter Juhász, they are ready to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. And they have every chance of winning their case there.

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Member

“We have not received any official proposals from the mayor,” Juhasz told the AP. “We only heard about it through state news wire MTI, which we don’t consider a reliable source.”
Cool response;)

Ron
Guest

Eva: According to Péter Juhász, they are ready to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. And they have every chance of winning their case there.
You are probably right. The question is will the verdict be on time? My suggestion is to go to Debrecen in 1849 it was the capital of the Freedom Fighters, why no doing it again?
And Paul can join as well.

Member

Doesn’t matter whether the verdict is on time Ron both AP and Reuters have got hold of the story- another own goal by the Orbanistas.

Member

oneill: “both AP and Reuters have got hold of the story-” How did they hear about it? Probably from the communist, leftist, liberal media or from the discredited commie ex-MPs passed on this info.
THe freedom of assembly is still respected. THere are plenty of rooms left on all the side streets and on the rooftops. Why does it hurt everyone that Fidesz (I men Hungary) still has plenty of money left to fill the streets and squares for a hole week with entertainments and programs? I just cannot wait for the song and dance of the Fidesz. (No pun inteneded!)

Kirsten
Guest

Is not Szabad Sajto ut also within the area reserved for Fidesz…?

Paul
Guest

Nice idea, Ron, although alas we are in the UK on that day.
Logistically it would be a bit of a nightmare holding it in Debrecen, but the significance would be wonderful – and there’s plenty of traffic-free space available.
I can’t see Kósa letting it happen, though, Debrecen is deep in the Fidesz soul (remember “Debrecen you let us down!” in 2006 (I think)? – that REALLY upset them!). And, even if it was allowed, I can’t see the local Fidesz nutters (let alone Jobbik) taking it lying down.
Still it made me smile.

Paul
Guest

As for the Court of Human Rights, although they are usually so slow as to make a csiga look hypersonic, I think they can move fast if they need to – i.e. if the case is simple and the deadline close. And both of those apply here.
And they have got nearly two months!

I love Hungary
Guest

I’ve predicted, on Politics.HU that the March 15 celebrations would be bloody- and in response to the mostly facist accusations that I was trying to “incite”, I suggested that the violence would come largely, if not totally, from the government’s side.
Now the governmnet will beable to claim they are breaking up illegal gatherings.
I like the Debrecen idea mentioned above.
But a simpler action would be to simply request assembly “rights” on the 14th in certain areas. Or the 16th, or the 13th etc… to celebrate the comemmeration.

Odin's Lost Eye
Guest

The situation in Budapest is only to be expected from a Party which believes that the Winner has the right to take all –forever.
I expect this process will be repeated everywhere else in the land.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Kirsten, Yes, Szabad Sajtó út also. Here is maybe a better looking map:
http://nol.hu/belfold/marcius_15___fideszes_kozterulet_foglalas_ket_evre_

Ron
Guest

I love Hungary: But a simpler action would be to simply request assembly “rights” on the 14th in certain areas. Or the 16th, or the 13th etc… to celebrate the commemoration.
I agree with you, but than people will not be allowed to take off time. Look what happened during one of the previous protests of the police, fire brigade, etc.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

About the demonstrations. I am curious how many people Zsolt Bayer et al. will be able to bring to the streets today. They optimistically predicted more than 100,000. The weather seems to be good.

Kingfisher
Guest

Milla should invite people out onto the streets for a silent protest. Just wear a red hat, or red scarf, something red. Then walk the streets. No speeches, no shouting, just a sea of individuals, all wearing red. The police cannot send people home for wearing red clothes… and it would be a striking visual image for the international media.

Kirsten
Guest

Kingfisher, I like your idea very much. Some protest that cannot be objected to, and still takes place within the area reserved for Fidesz.

Member

Kingfisher: “Milla should invite people out onto the streets for a silent protest. ”
I like that. Unfortunately the “kokarda” (red, white, green ribbon pulled into a “bud” and was worn by the uprisers in 1848) became the symbol of nationalistic ideas. Red hat yellow hat, whatever would work.

Csaba K. Zoltani
Guest

For an article on Hungary that is journalism and not propaganda consider
http://www.jpost.com/LandedPages/PrintArticle.aspx?id=254396

Odin's Lost Eye
Guest

Silent protests can be very effective. But they must be SILENT!!
But if one such is held I would those who are protesting not to wear any colour which can be linked with any one or group of political ideas.
The protest is about the loss of democratic principles. I would suggest black but this has been hi-jacked by Blobbick (or whatever these twerps call themselves).
Instead I would suggest white. This is the middle colour of the Hungarian flag, is to my knowledge is not the colour of any political party (but I stand to be corrected on that one)
Yes White is easy to get and easy to see. Is apparently neutral and would stand out well when merging with the Fidesz supporters to show you out number them!

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

To Csaba K. Zoltani. Israeli friends of mine are outraged.

Member

The pro-FIDESZ demo started … street vendors are selling Alfonz Luzsénszky books. Targeted marketing.
(Alfonz Luzsénszky is a famous Hungarian anti-Semite writer)

GDF
Guest

Eva:”To Csaba K. Zoltani. Israeli friends of mine are outraged.”
As should be anyone who is not on the far right and who is familiar with the political life in Hungary today.

Bowen
Guest

Well, the organisers of the Bekemenet have done a good job in transporting people in from the countryside (and as far away as the Szekelyfold by the looks of it). 100,000 at the moment, according to Index.

Bowen
Guest

I stand corrected. 500,000 according to Magyar Hirlap.

Member

Meanwhile on Planet Hungary …
Oh, well. This makes me think of the May 1 demonstration on the Hero’s Square in 1957 differently. I believe it was genuine. The crowd cheered to Janos Kadar and on the tribune the sign said “Long Live The Hungarian Socialist Peoples Party” (MSZMP).
http://bit.ly/zuRS8l
Toldya. The PR stunt in Brussels worked.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Number game. I heard 20,000 in one source. Who knows?

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Number game: MTI is cautious. “Tens of thousands” were walking toward Kossuth Square and “many thousands” waited there.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Number game: Echo TV: more than half a million people.

An
Guest

From Index:
hiradu.hu reports ten thousands, Magyar Nemzet hundreds of thousands, Magyar Hirlap: 500,000 (Magyar Hirlap is owned by one of the organizers, Szeles Gabor)
Egymillióan vannak?
jan. 21. 17:52 Plankó Gergő
A közszolgálati tévében azt mondták be, hogy egymillióan vagyunk, mondta be a hangosbeszélőn a Kossuth téren Bencsik András, a Demokrata főszerkesztője. (A hirado.hu több tízezer emberről beszél, az mno.hu százezrekről, a magyarhirlap.hu több mint ötszázezerről.) A tömeg ovációval fogadta a bejelentést. Bevárják, míg mindenki odaér, utána eléneklik a Himnuszt.

Dirk Diggler
Guest

There is no way there is anything close to those numbers form what I can see. From behind the Opera House and wandering up to Andrassy see what is going on, 10s of thousands seems about right

An
Guest
Member

More from 1957. At the end they are chanting “Long live the party!”



Nothing changed.

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