Tens of thousands of people have marched in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, in support of the policies of populist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
The opposition’s newly elected prime ministerial candidate, Peter Marki-Zay, also gathered several thousand on Saturday for a separate event in Budapest, six months before the elections.
Orbán’s supporters had invited a peace march on the anniversary of the failed 1956 uprising against the Soviet Union.
At the end of the march, Orbán delivered a rare public speech to his followers. The right-wing nationalist prime minister painted a grim picture of what Hungarians can expect if he loses elections next year and takes aim at the EU again.
– The EU speaks to us and behaves towards us and the Poles as if we were enemies, said the Prime Minister.
David and Goliath
Orbán compared Brussels’ treatment of Hungary and Poland in the dispute over the rule of law to the hostility of the Soviet era.
– Brussels would do well to understand that not even the Communists could deal with us. We are the David that Goliath does best to stay away, Orbán continued.
Furthermore, Orbán highlighted the economic progress of his own government and accused his predecessors of leading Hungary to economic ruin.
– It took us several years to rectify the destruction of the left, said the Prime Minister.
Increasing the pressure
The Orbán government is under increasing pressure both at home and in the EU. Brussels is considering imposing sanctions on Hungary over concerns about democratic institutions and the rule of law.
The six largest opposition parties in the country have vowed to put aside ideological differences and form an alliance that will challenge Orbán’s party at the polls. The Alliance recently elected conservative Christian politician Peter Marki-Zay as its first ministerial candidate.
Opinion polls show a deadlock between the opposition and the ruling Fidesz party. Thus, the election could be the most exciting Hungary has experienced in 15 years after Orbán has won clear electoral victories since 2010.
– have had enough
About 5,000 of the opposition supporters gathered later Saturday for a separate rally. Marki-Zay said in his speech that “people had enough in 1956, and they have had enough now.”
Hungarians are tired of Orbán’s hate campaigns, including against immigrants and LGBTQ people, according to the Catholic father of seven.
“Our basic objective, both on the left and on the right, is for Hungary to be a democracy, governed by the rule of law in a market economy that is also part of the EU,” Marki-Zay told the news agency. AP. during the demonstration.
If he wins the election, Marki-Zay promises to lead a government coalition that will end corruption, attacks on the media and abuse of public institutions.
Many of the participants in the pro-government peace march carried posters criticizing the opposition. Some expressed frustration at the new alliance’s ambitions to defeat Orbán.
– I don’t think they are capable of controlling, they have no concepts, says Judit Nemeth, who participated in the march.
-They only have one objective, to overthrow Orbán, who I think is the best politician in Europe, he adds.