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Demonstrations in Budapest

April 14th, 2017

After the fourth anti-government demonstration in four days, commentators express strongly diverging views on their significance.  They agree, however, that the protests in Budapest are unlikely to turn into something like the ’colour revolutions’ in former Soviet republics.

Commenting on critical statements by the US State department (see BudaPost, April 13Népszava’s  Gábor Horváth remarks that the United States is now on the side of the peaceful demonstrators in Budapest. It is no wonder, he continues, that the pro-government press brings up the example of the ‘colour revolutions’ in which Horváth includes the events of the Arab spring of 2011, and the revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine. He doesn’t exclude the possibility that these demonstrations may contribute to the birth of a new opposition force, but for the moment he expects them to yield more immediate results. As an example, Horváth mentions the latest  proposal by the State Secretary in charge of Public Education, whereby CEU could operate in Hungary exactly as before as a licencee of its NY counterpart. (See BudaPost, April 13).

In Magyar Idők, Zsolt Bayer has no objections against legal and peaceful demonstrations and admits that at least some of the marches over the past few days have been legal. Nevertheless, he claims that each of them turned into unlawful ones with participants ‘provoking the police and even trying to break into the Parliament building’. Their slogans have been violent, Bayer continues, before quoting a series of provocative Facebook comments by sympathisers. He also reacts to the intention of LMP co-chair Bernadett Szél to file a lawsuit against him for incitement to violence in an earlier article which she interpreted as threatening anti-government demonstrators. Without mentioning Bernadett Szél by name, Bayer asks if the demonstrators’  acts and comments were not to be qualified as an incitement in themselves. He contrasts them with his article, in which he ‘merely hinted’ that government supporters might stage much larger demonstrations than those of the past few days.

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