The day of outrage: Yesterday’s demonstrations in Hungary

Nowadays anti-government demonstration follows anti-government demonstration in Hungary. And not just in Budapest but in all larger cities and towns. Tens of thousands of people gather each time to express their outrage.

A couple of months ago no one would have predicted such a swift change in the political climate. In fact, critics of the government simply couldn’t understand the population’s passivity. In the last few years Viktor Orbán’s government has done so much harm to the great majority of Hungarians that it was difficult to understand the complacency of the people, the apathy that seemed to have paralyzed the country’s inhabitants. Explanations for this phenomenon varied. Some felt that fear played a large role. The current political players are known to be merciless when it comes to their opponents. Even in private companies people were afraid to voice their opposition to the government for fear that their pro-government boss would fire “the enemies of the nation” right on the spot. Others argued that, given the weakness of the opposition parties, the population was destined to remain passive. After all, they see no alternative to the present regime. People fear chaos if Fidesz’s rule collapses. Another explanation was the nationalistic fervor that was artificially fueled by the government. If it is true, as the government claims, that Hungary is surrounded by enemies, the people have to stand by a government that seems to be defending their national honor.

But all that changed about a month ago. The pent-up resentment and dissatisfaction surfaced with elemental force. The planned introduction of an internet tax was the catalyst. Those young people who had created a virtual community on Facebook and Twitter and who were not paying much attention to the way the government was stripping them of their personal freedom suddenly woke up. Now it was their own space that Viktor Orbán was trampling on. And once they woke up they also realized that this government is planning to organize every facet of their lives, from cradle to grave. They looked around and decided that what’s going on today in Hungary is anything but democracy.

demonstracio, nov. 17

Then there is the matter of corruption, which has been systemic and organized from above. Ildikó Vida, president of the Hungarian Tax Authority, is just one link in the chain that goes all the way to the top. In Hungary everybody is aware of widespread corruption, but once it became known that even the top officials of the tax office are complicit in tax fraud the floodgates opened wide.

Now, let’s talk a little about last night’s event. The organizers of yesterday’s demonstration are different from the ones we came to know in the last few weeks as leaders of the movement. Yet they managed to gather a crowd of about 20,000. There was, however, a strange dissonance between speakers and audience. The youthful orators hate all politicians. They don’t seem to distinguish between politics after 2010 and before. For them the last two and a half decades are all the same. It is time for a “regime change.”

It was enlightening to watch the demonstrators’ response. They were not inclined to bury the last twenty-five years. They did not yell “Down with Bajnai!” or “Down with Gyurcsány!” when the youthful speakers mentioned their names. The crowd got fired up only when Fidesz, Orbán, or Vida were mentioned. None of the signs held up by the demonstrators demanded the removal of all parties, but there were plenty that wanted Viktor Orbán to disappear from Hungarian political life. The speakers and their audience were not in sync. One had the feeling that the audience was not really interested in the speeches. They only wanted to express their “outrage” at what this government has done to them in the last few years.

One of the organizer-speakers had a talk with Olga Kálmán of ATV yesterday right after the demonstration. During the conversation he announced that they want a “new regime,” a “new political system.” When asked about the nature of that system, it became evident that these young people not only don’t have a program, they don’t have an inkling about what a new regime might look like. They only know what they don’t want: corruption, graft, a lack of dialogue between government and the governed, and arrogant politicians. This is good as a beginning but certainly not enough to change Hungarian politics in the long run.

Some of the organizers also displayed a certain naïveté. One of them expressed their desire to “work with all political parties,” including Viktor Orbán and Fidesz. Surely, this young man doesn’t understand the nature of the mafia state and the role of the godfather in that system. The majority of his audience, on the other hand, seemed to understand that one cannot work with this regime. It must go and democracy must be restored. This is what they demanded during their long demonstration in front of the parliament building.

The parties have wisely kept away from these demonstrations, but surely sooner or later the “outraged” public and the politicians of the democratic opposition must find each other because only by cooperating can this regime be toppled.

As for the government’s reaction, Viktor Orbán and his minions act as if nothing happened yesterday. In parliament the two-thirds majority voted on next year’s budget that is full of new taxes and punishing levies on foreign companies the government wants to destroy. Viktor Orbán opened two new establishments, one in Alcsút and the other in Felcsút, the villages of his youth. He visited János Flier’s cattle breeding farm and Lőrincz Máeszáros’s farm where he will raise mangalica pigs. Both “farmers” are considered to be front men (Strohmänner/strómanok) of Orbán. For the time being it looks as if the prime minister hasn’t sensed political danger. If I were in his shoes I would be less cocky. Some people are very angry.

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When people are very angry, but they don’t have organization and leaders, it can become a revolution of destruction and anarchy. I said it to my friends two years ago, that if they cannot have an opposing party with well thought out program and it does not have a leader in whom they can trust, there will be the worst revolution Hungary ever had in modern times. I give it less than two years, it can happen. I hope I am very wrong!


Eva, the organizers of yesterday’s demonstration are young, enthusiastic,and a bit inexperienced. This may explain why they are dissatisfied with the last 25 years… young people tend to have rash generalizations of previous generations. If they are in their early 20s, they spent most of their adult life under Orban’s brave new word, and have no adult memories of the 90s to allow for a more nuanced thinking of the era.

Another reason for their mistrust of all political parties, though, could be their unfortunate adventure with the organizer(s) of the previous demonstration (the one against the internet tax). In an interview they tell how they ran into problems with the main organizer, Gulyas Balazs, who had some MSZP background. It so happened the both Gulyas and these young people started to organize a demonstration against the internet tax on Facebook at the same time, and when they realized this, they tried to work together. The cooperation failed, however, and it may have led to mistrust.

See the interview with the young organizers behind yesterday’s demonstration here. It is worth a read.


Compare what happened in Romania, where – as Zoltán Sipos claims on the Átlátszó website ( ) – the “Facebook generation” turned the tide. They elected a non-charismatic, unexperienced but (as it seems) far less corrupt candidate from an ethnic minority, instead of the experienced but arrogant and corrupt Victor Ponta. The analysis may have many weak points, and you cannot directly compare Romania with Hungary, but nevertheless it is interesting to note the role of younger, more educated and more wide-sighted voters in contrast to the traditional rural conservative clientele.


Nevertheless, it’s a good start. Kudos especially to the protestors for being vociferous but non-violent.


gybognarjr, I am afraid you are not wrong. OV need not worry if people are not willing to learn about the usefulness of a programme and strategy. And cooperation. That the young people are inexperienced is more or less natural, it is the more experienced politicians who should provide some guidance and teach how to effectively express protest. That does not give much hope either because cooperation among the seasoned politicians in the opposition is not too popular or even familiar. It is reassuring to see the young so outraged, but without support from their parents’ generation, the protests will end at Christmas at the latest (and another group of people will decide to leave the country asap).


Ah think Orban can only act aggressively. Devensive behavior to him is anathema.

If he backs out now or loosens his iron grip, he and his cronies will land up in jail in no time.

Consequently it behooves us to predict his options and strategise our actions accordingly in order to have a chance at gaining momentum and power. Now is the time to think and plan !!!

Action is down the line after an effective strategy and alternate plans have been outlined.

But I aint seen a group of intellectual elders or ‘informal’ senators i.e. thinkers outline an plans for the next steps.

Like this we spendin’ valuable undirected energy.

Now is the time to plan !!!

This is a chance for the intelligentsia to put Hungary on the map again in a positive way!!!

I always seem to be the voice of doom and gloom on here… My reading of this is that it can go one of two ways – either it fades in confusion and the cold weather, or it builds and becomes a serious threat to Orbán. But if the latter (which we may all think is what we’d like), Orbán will not just give in and resign, he will fight with every legal and crooked method he can find. This will not end well for Hungary. Not only will there be blood and tear gas on the streets, but the country will end up as irreconcilably divided as Ukraine and many of the ‘Arab Spring’ countries have become, and the economy will nosedive. (Which, apart from being terminally bad for Hungary itself, will also severely damage the EU – and leave Putin a very happy man.) What Hungary needs is not chaos and anarchy, but a controlled and democratic return to ‘normality’ – and this is only possible via the ballot box. What Hungary needs is not angry youth with no idea of what they want, but capable politicians with a viable programme to replace Orbán. Until that happens, even… Read more »

1. Probably, the Fradi hooligans will show up.
2. Probably, LMP will come out against street demonstrations.
3. Probably, blood will flow if Orban/Putin will be pushed into the corner.


@Paul: You are right about fearing such a scary scenario, but the problem is that when people truly turn against Orban, they won’t be able to just vote him out. That’s not how Orban operates. He will do anything in his power to rig elections (and he has a lot of power right now), and the more it looks likely he’ll lose, the more he is going to rig the elections. What would follow then are demonstrations and the angry crowds about rigged elections. So we are back to square one.
Looks like I am more pessimistic than you are.

Allright fellahs (the last few comments): And pls gimme your opinion ‘en large’.on the method suggested below: Think pro-actively: ‘We’ should get say 14 of the most interesting intellectuals together from the lot who have made their mark on atv’s Friderikusz’s ‘thought production’ show.. I am not joking. He has brought together the most creative thinkers. This group of 14 should design a method in which honest intellectual thinkers can and would influence politial persons and political strategies. This core group I will call Senators will suggest a group of politicians – people that are chosen because they wish to SERVE the country not to come out rich from the service. (This does not preclude an excellent salary but no plus benefitw would be permitted). The politicians they will suggest are persons that deal and wheel with interests in mind but will keep self-interest out-a-da-picture. After all this we would put together a very simplified educational ‘package’ for all citizens. We would use EU funds to educate people about living an intelligent life… OK— I GIVE UP. This is where everything goes topsy-turvy. Hungarian average (70+% of society dont have an inkling of how to evaluate good from bad. The… Read more »

The effect of the new “food safety fee” on the foreign-owned retail chains

2013 turnover; 2013 result; new fee if the turnover were the same in 2015

Tesco 601; -43.1; -26.1
Spar 385; -11.8; -13.1
Auchan 272; -6.3; -6.6
Lidl 228; 2.2; -4.6
Penny 160; 2.0; -2.3
Metro 105; -2.7; -1.1
Aldi 80; -5.0; -0.8

Rules to compute the new fee:


The percentage of price raise that the Orban government forces on the foreign-owned retail chains if they want to avoid government mandated closure:

(the two new rules are that
1. they cannot have a loss for two consecutive years, and
2. they have to pay the hefty “safety” fee)

Tesco: 11.5%
Spar: 6.5%
Auchan: 4.7%
Lidl: 2.0%
Penny: 1.4%
Metro: 3.6%
Aldi: 7.2%

“A couple of months ago no one would have predicted such a swift change in the political climate. ” The answer is of course that there was no change in the political climate. Everyone supports whichever party they supported in this years elections. (For example in this years EU elections, held using the exact same rules all over Europe 52%, an absolute majority of voters supported FIdesz, in the municipal elections even in Budapest, where the opposition is the strongest, 49.9% supported the candidacy of Istvan Tarlos) The fact that 5 000 people go out to the streets and protest is no indication of change in the climate at all. Let us all remember that in 2006 the situation for the then governing Gyurcsany was so dire that he had to order police to open fire on the crowds. Many people were blinded, others had broken bones, or were tortured later. The point was to intimidate people away from protesting at all. Now everyone knows it is safe. Everyone knows there will be no shooting into crowds by police and similar. Even though in 2006 they only used rubber bullets and tear gas canisters it is pretty intimidating to be… Read more »

tommys are the eternal realists.
one of my friends is called tomi.
another one, who can live without freedom.
there are too many such hungarians.
born servants.


tommy‘s every text has all the tell-tale trappings of a turul-troll.

I could easily write a mechanical algorithm to keep turning out that tripe on command.

Why do the faithful commentators keep replying to him/her/them/it as if there were any sense or sincerity in those postings?

I assume that Éva tolerates them either be because they are such familiar, obvious cant — or for comic/ironic relief.


I was chatting with a friend of mine in Hungary about this blog. He is a supporter of LMP, and he said that the anti-LMP feelings on this site are due to a generational divide.

Yeah, the activists at the recent rally might seem naive. But maybe they represent a new tide that isn’t fully appreciated by most folks here.

I’m not saying either side is good or bad. I’m just saying that it behooves the older generation to understand the young folks- who might not want to understand this blog. And I hope we can adjust faster than Jobbik/Fidesz.

GARDONISTA: The entire Hungarian Government is morally and monetarily corrupt. The results of their work is by far the most deplorable, vile, stupid and directed agains the weak, the sick, the handicapped, the unemployed, the old people and serve only the purpose of grabbing the money, the wealth, properties and businesses for enriching those, who are members or connected the Government. All the social benefits, entitlements with some of the retirement benefits are disappearing and the taxes are still going up. Why would the helpless and redundant LMP count at all? What did they accomplish so far in their entire existence, other than getting lots of money for campaigns and elections and the representatives are getting well paid in the Parliament? Other than that, they are just simple minded accomplices to the criminals of the Fidesz/KDNP/Jobbik/MSZP gang. There was a suggestion for the opposition parties a long time ago. Everybody should have walked out from the Parliament and refuse to participate in any work, when and since the new Basic Law, masquerading as a Constitution was approved by the Fidesz/KDNP. None of the opposition should have run in the elections and there should have been organized, united, passive resistance, paralyzing… Read more »

I was there. The end of the demonstration was tragic. The speeches kind of were weak and a guy was wearing a CCCP shirt on the podium. But still that was the good part. After the demonstration officially ended, the crowd just aimlessly stood around without any purpose.

It was painful to watch and hugely embarrassing. And there were some other bad things that I won’t mention here.


Orban is selling one of the Hungarian gas storage facilities to Russians?


No, he is renting it.


re: 70/30

With Orban in power, 85/15 brought more to the opposition than when Gyurcsany ruled–this is the real reason for Oszod: the MSZP crooks had to remove their leader at all cost. And they did so.

The central problem of Hungary is the political culture–its intrinsic corruption–and its support mechanism in the grossly corrupt legal system of the country.

The Hungarian legal system now have their ideal candidate as the country’s leader. They will never allow him to be removed. You might as well try to remove the Mafia from Brooklyn…


@Zord: I was there too and had exactly the same feeling. The end of the demonstration was very disappointing. They didn’t have any plan, when the crowd was only waiting to hear which direction we all would be walking to. With the lack of plan for today the idea was given that there is no plan at all. The interviews on TV gave the same impression.
All in all I am not surprised that this “day of outrage” is ignored by Orban. The crowd was small and not showing that the Fidesz voters of one month ago has changed their mind.
As far as I could read it hardly receive any attention abroad either, which again is a victory for Orban.
One reason for this is for sure that a lot of people are afraid of their jobs. I have heard from many people who didn’t go because they worked for the government and were afraid to be seen. Some others even thought pictures would be taken and would be used against you in a later stage when you apply for an ID for example.


petofi: “The Hungarian legal system now have their ideal candidate as the country’s leader. They will never allow him to be removed. You might as well try to remove the Mafia from Brooklyn…”

You are probably right that nobody from outside the Fidesz family can remove Orban from power in an orderly manner. But what about insiders? Don’t they feel a growing danger to their lives arising from Orban’s accelerating plunder of the country. If the population finally explodes Orban and his accomplices will need a lot of helicopters to escape. (And where can they go?).

If the top echelon escapes the rage will be directed against the next lower level. People on that level should begin to contemplate how they can save their necks if shoves come to blows.


@tommi the troll:

I remember things from 2006 you conveniently forgot to tell!

Before the police acted wasn’t there something about breaking into the MTV building and destroying things?

The good thing about your kind of troll is that your lies are so easy to find out …


It’s funny in a way that these trolls always use the same texts – as if there was a script somewhere (I’m sure that this exists – saw something like this in a party handbook of the CDU in Germany 50 years ago!) that they base their writings on. Especially on you regularly find exactly the same wording in comments from “different” commenters …

There was a suggestion for the opposition parties a long time ago. Everybody should have walked out from the Parliament and refuse to participate in any work, when and since the new Basic Law, masquerading as a Constitution was approved by the Fidesz/KDNP. None of the opposition should have run in the elections and there should have been organized, united, passive resistance, paralyzing the country to remove Orbán and the Fidesz. Completely agree! There was no mandate to create the basic law. That was an opportunistic power grab. That the opposition would accept this is unfathomable. No wonder the population didn’t participate… it felt no need to legitimize this arrogant and corrupt group. Smartphones are the current preferred computing platform and it’s hard to spot a youngster that isn’t glued to one. This protest group may of looked unorganized maybe, just maybe.. the older generation doesn’t understand the new social structure that has been enabled by a completely foreign means to have people organize themselves. That may look very chaotic but I believe there is an underlying structure that is less visible.. indeed maybe invisible because it’s not deeply grounded in geography Services like WordPress, Instagram, snapchat, twitter, Facebook and… Read more »
Radio Sokol
miki, zord, Hey, hey, hey, I’m afraid you don’t get the point. We’re just after three victorious (for Fidesz) elections, however rigged. It is absurd to expect that any opposition force would remove Orban, or even a “Twitter-revolution” could topple him just yet. What’s happened is natural. The government has already spent 4 years as an arrogant and thoroughly corrupt bully and it dawned on many people that Fidesz isn’t going anywhere and isn’t changing a bit. Fidesz cannot blame its corruption, incompetence and sheer will to destroy (especially in education) on the “communists” any more, at least not to the majority (this always works with clueless German CSU and GOP politicians, though), who would like to see results besides empty stadiums. So it’s natural that people are beginning to blame Orban and Fidesz. A process has started which will lead to the fall of Orban (although I think not before he is elected as a president with Horthy-like powers) simply because he can’t turn the country around in any sense. There isn’t money for such a feat even if he nationalized all foreign corporations and look, they no longer invest in Hungary for starters, there will be no sustainable… Read more »

@Radio Sokol: you are right that we can’t expect that at the moment any force big enough to make the Fidesz regime fall. But especially because Fidesz has won 3 elections this year with overwhelming majority the demonstrations need to be more convincing at least to show that there is really a change in public opinion.
I am not that pessimistic and was thinking the same way as you did that with time it will become more clear that it is Fidesz responsible for the current mess and people will realize that it they are ruining the country….but what about all the news there is now with a corrupt NAV, all the very clear lies of Orban and Lazar on various topics (or can there be anybody who actually believes Norway was planning to overthrow the Hungarian government?) and all the extra taxes that don’t exists in other countries?


Checking the bank accounts in Dubai. It’s surely closer than Singapore or Hong-Kong and the rules are even laxer.

Lajos Kósa and his deputy mayor spend three days “on holidays” together.


The appearance of decent Hungarians must be celebrated.

The demonstrators represent hope.

The classical few sour voices among them is a normal occurrence.

These lost souls have been driven into depression by the crooks of the past governments.

We need now the new generation of brave journalists and activists to end the orban/jobbik era.

I am waiting for Dorottya Karsay.

I am saluting the great Andre Goodfriend.