Budapest, October 26 (MTI) – Thousands of demonstrators gathered in downtown Budapest on Sunday evening to protest against the government’s plan to impose a tax on internet use.
Balázs Gulyás, founder of a Hungarian Facebook page “One hundred thousand against the internet tax” attracting over 200,000 supporters, called on the government to withdraw the bill.
Fidesz is imposing more and more new taxes on people and deceiving even its own voters because the party itself was also opposing the idea of an internet tax back in 2008, the speaker told the crowd, which filled the square in front of the Economy Ministry building on József Nádor Square.
Gulyás said that if the government fails to withdraw the bill within 48 hours, the opponents of the tax will be demonstrating again on Tuesday.
Gulyás said “we shall not pay internet tax to the corrupt tax authority and to [Prime Minister] Viktor Orbán”. He said there certainly would not be an internet tax if Orbán quit.
With the introduction of the internet tax, the government will “cut Hungary off from the world”, “shoot the economy in the foot”, and jeopardise thousands of jobs, he said.
Gulyas said the government dislikes the internet because people using it can see more of the world.
Several protesters held flags depicting Orbán and Russian President Putin, and one poster showing the inscription “we shall not pay tax to criminals”.
The crowd then moved to Budapest’s Heroes’ Square where Gulyás thanked for their presence and bid farewell to the demonstrators.
Some protesters, however, marched to the Fidesz party headquarters in nearby Lendvay Street and threw used computer parts at the building, damaging windows and shutters.
Several demonstrators climbed onto the balcony of the headquarters, where they hung two European Union flags. The protesters chanted “Viktator”, “We want democracy”, “Europe” and “VAT fraudsters”.
Some demonstrators insulted TV crews and prevented a reporter of news channel HírTV from covering the event.
Police have lined up in a double cordon in front of the headquarters. They called on the protesters to disperse.
Police told MTI just after 9pm that none of the demonstrators had been taken into custody.
Police declined to disclose any data about the size of the crowd and the number of police officers deployed.
By 10pm the number of demonstrators decreased to a few dozens, chants and pelting stopped. The nearby Dózsa György Street and Andrássy Avenue were reopened for traffic but a section of Lendvay Street is still closed.
In a statement, the ruling Fidesz party voiced consternation over the Sunday demonstration “degenerating into vandalism”.
Fidesz said it was open to arguments and prepared to submit an amendment proposal to the bill but held “violence totally inacceptable”.
“Violence offers no solution to anything. It is not vandalism but peaceful dialogue what we need,” it said.
Demonstrations against the internet tax were also held in other cities in Hungary, including Pécs, Miskolc and Veszprém.
The demonstrations were supported by the opposition LMP, Socialist, E-PM, DK and Jobbik parties as well as the Liga Trade Unions, the Teachers’ Trade Union and industry associations.
The draft tax legislation package submitted to parliament on Tuesday included the proposed internet tax, which would be paid by service providers based on the amount of data transferred, at 150 forint per gigabyte.
Fidesz will submit an amendment proposal to parliament on Monday to put a 700-forint monthly cap per private person on the planned internet tax, the party’s parliamentary group told MTI during the demonstration.