Politicians of the left-wing opposition Socialist-Párbeszéd and Democratic Coalition (DK) called for solidarity and street protests to overturn the Orbán government at a demonstration in Budapest on Sunday.
Bertalan Tóth, the head of the Socialist Party, said that the approval of the Sargentini report by the European Parliament showed that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán “is not the strong man of Europe but a branded populist” who professes to build a Christian democracy while the representatives of Christian Democrat parties vote against him. Orbán has “chosen the past, not the future, the East, not the West,” with his policies, he added.
Tóth said the approval of the report is the victory of pro-Europe parties over those opposed to Europe. Parliament does not need a resolution condemning the report, but bills that can correct the problems the report protests, he added.
DK chairman Ferenc Gyurcsány called on people to demonstrate in the streets to topple the government. From now on, it is not just the right, but the duty of the Hungarian people to take the fate of the government into their own hands and “send this regime packing”, he said. He noted that governments had earlier been overturned with continuous demonstrations in Serbia, Egypt and Slovakia.
A dictatorship lies behind the facade of parliamentary democracy, and dictatorships are not overthrown in parliament, Gyurcsány said.
“We cannot rest until the crowd in the streets forces Viktor Orbán to resign and a new election is called, with new campaign financing and media regulations,” he added.
Gyurcsány announced another demonstration for Tuesday, next to the parliament building.
Gergely Karácsony, the co-leader of Párbeszéd, said he was proud of the Hungarian MEPs who voted in favour of the Sargentini report. Those people love their country more than to be afraid of the prime minister calling them traitors, he added.
Karácsony said the first step should be to prevent Orbán from tearing apart the European Union as he has torn apart Hungary. Afterward, the EU’s social pillar needs to be strengthened, which requires sending as many progressive, pro-Europe MEPs to Brussels as possible.
Karácsony said that Orbán’s party loyalists cannot be allowed to get into the majority in the European Parliament in elections in the spring. Afterward, in local council elections, “small circles of freedom” must be organised, he added.
Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi urged people to “take back our national symbols”, saying that one of the first symbolic steps in the “establishment of the Orbán regime” was the “appropriation of the cockade”, a ribbon rosette of the national colours adopted by revolutionaries in 1848 as a symbol of independence.
The demonstration was organised a few days after MEPs approved the Sargentini report, so called because of its rapporteur, the Dutch, Greens MEP Judith Sargentini. The approval of the report, which cited the “existence of a clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values on which the Union is founded”, triggered an Article 7 procedure against Hungary would could ultimately strip the country of its EU voting rights.
Demonstrators filled Bem Square, near the Danube, carrying Hungarian and EU flags, as well as displaying emblems of the three organising parties and the Momentum Movement.
After the demonstration, some participants headed to Kossuth Square, in front of parliament, with a police escort. Some 300-400 people continued to demonstrate at Kossuth Square, as a cordon of police stood in front of the parliament building.
Ruling Fidesz said in response to the demonstration that the opposition still fails to accept the decision of the Hungarian people.
Opposition politicians supported “Brussels and pro-migration politicians in Strasbourg and continue to do so at home,” the party said.