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Debate on unruly demonstrators

April 21st, 2017

A left-wing columnist defends demonstrators who throw paint as public buildings, on the grounds that they ‘have no other means to express their anger.’ A pro-government commentator thinks that everyone has the right to protest but only as long as they obey the law and respect public order.

In one of the demonstrations last week, two protesters who threw paint at the office of the President of the Republic were taken into custody and sentenced to public work. On Wednesday, police banned one pro-NGO demonstration, and another pro-CEU demonstration, as the protest would have involved the temporary blocking of Budapest bridges.

In Népszava, Judit Kósa draws a parallel between the current developments and those of the late 1980s. The left-wing columnist argues that not unlike the last years of Socialism, the discontent of the powerless masses can only be expressed by unusual means including paint throwing performances. She admits that such stunts are unlikely to further any political goals, but believes that they make protesters feel somewhat better.

The right to assembly and protest does not imply that demonstrators can disturb public order, János Somogyi writes in Magyar Idők. The retired lawyer finds it absurd for the opposition to accuse the authorities of antidemocratic conduct. Somogyi thinks that the misuse of democratic rights by ‘misled youngsters and provocateurs paid by foreign organizations’ will create an opportunity for ‘Wall Street globalists’ and George Soros ‘to forcefully interfere in Hungary’s internal affairs and bring down its democratically elected government’. Somogyi underscores that everyone has the right to protest peacefully, but cautions against provoking ‘peaceful majorities’ that, according are Somogyi, are becoming, in their turn, increasingly frustrated with the protesters.

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