Budapest, Hungary – Thousands of protesters have taken to the street in the Hungarian capital to protest measures adopted by the parliament, including a controversial amendment to labour laws opponents call a ‘slave law‘. Tear gas was used last night by the police against demonstrators on Kossuth Lajos Square, the site of the country’s parliament.
Trade union members and supporters are protesting a government’s legislation, proposed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right-wing party and approved by the parliament on Wednesday, which raises the maximum annual overtime hours from 250 to 400 hours and triples the time period for calculating overtime payments to three years.
Protesters also oppose the creation of a parallel court system that cements executive control over the judiciary by allowing the justice minister to appoint judges who will have jurisdiction over cases relating to “public administration”, including electoral law, corruption and the right to protest.
According to reports, the voting on the amendment in parliament was marred by “rare scenes of chaos” as members of Hungary’s opposition parties resorted to whistling and blocking the speaker’s podium in an attempt to prevent the controversial changes. The legislation was nevertheless passed by a 130-52 vote secured by the Fidesz party.
This latest controversial move by Viktor Orbán comes on the heels of the closing of Budapest’s Central European University, founded by the American billionaire George Soros, which prompted students to demonstrate and show solidarity with the trade unions against the government.
With some demonstrators seen wearing yellow jackets inspired by the recent protests in France, Hugarian Spectrum asks “will Budapest follow Paris?”