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Opposition MPs stage sit-in at public TV

December 19th, 2018

After the fifth day of demonstrations against the government, commentators ponder whether the recent series of protests might lead to the birth of a new united opposition, or whether attempts by hitherto unpopular opposition parties to lead the new movement will fail to produce new supporters.

At the end of Sunday’s opposition demonstration, the largest of a series that started last Wednesday, opposition MPs entered the building of the public media conglomerate and attempted to broadcast a five-point statement. The demands included: the revocation of the recently passed overtime law, an independent judiciary, for Hungary to join the European Prosecutor’s project, and independent public media. On Monday morning some were evicted while other deputies managed to join those who stayed inside. The district authority called for their eviction. In the end they left of their own free will. The MPs say they will sue the public media company, as its security guards laid their hands on them. The state television in turn denounced the MPs for abuse of their parliamentary immunity, as one set off the fire alarm. Several thousand demonstrators gathered on the streets outside on both Sunday and Monday evening.

In Magyar Idők Zsolt Bayer, who last Saturday contemplated calling a pro-government march to show which side had the support of larger masses, now suggests that the opposition MPs wanted to stage a scandal rather than have their voices be heard. They usually claim that the public media has lost its viewers, so why did they attempt to reach them,  rather than asking the number one TV station, RTL Klub to broadcast their demands? Because they were seeking trouble, he concludes.

On 24.hu, Péter Pető warns that daily demonstrations are not sustainable in the long run. He wonders if parties and politicians will be able to keep up the tension and convince the rest of society of their ability to represent their interests. If they prove able to do that, they might create a large coalition of ‘regime-stricken Hungarians’, Pető writes.

On 444, Péter Ujj recalls earlier demonstrations the leaders of which are now forgotten, and asks whether the new leading figures will leave a lasting trace. While earlier rallies mobilized tens of thousands, the latest have been attended by crowds of a few thousand people only, he remarks. He admits that the ‘discredited and incompetent’ leaders of the opposition have been smart in exploiting the overtime law to frame themselves as the defenders of working people, but fears that times are not favourable for those who count on workers’ discontent, since the past few years have produced double digit increases in real wages.

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