Hungarian civil society holds fresh demonstrations against controversial labour reform law

Hungarian civil society holds fresh demonstrations against controversial labour reform law

Amid 10 days of violent demonstrations prior to Christmas and further protests in recent days, Hungary’s opposition groups will hold

Photo: Reuters/Bernadett Szabo

Amid 10 days of violent demonstrations prior to Christmas and further protests in recent days, Hungary’s opposition groups will hold a major anti-government rally today in Budapest against nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s unpopular labour reforms.

The protests have galvanised the normally disparate opposition groups—leftist, liberal, environmentalists, and far-right—to present a united front against Orban’s government. The president’s Fidesz party is at the height of its powers after a dominant 48% third-consecutive electoral win in April 2018.

The protests will not change the government’s mind, but may help build a coalition to put up a sterner challenge to the Fidesz in the 2022 elections. The far-right Jobbik party has moved towards the centre in the past year, even supporting traditionally left-wing policies like pay equity.

In the short-term, expect the anti-Orban parties to attempt to rally their disparate base by spreading the protests beyond labour reforms to what they deem Orban’s takeover of judicial independence, lack of media freedom, as well as the banishment of a George Soros-sponsored liberal university.  However, the prospects of toppling Orban in 2022 will likely require further concrete policy alignment between the opposition parties but that is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future.

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