Thousands of Hungarians took to the streets of Budapest on December 16 to protest against the right-wing government’s new ‘slave law’. On December 17, a rally was held outside the state television headquarters and some protestors even squatted inside the building overnight.
Police used pepper spray against demonstrators on December 16. At the television headquarters, a group of MPs demanded, unsuccessfully, to have a list of demands read out on air.
Their main demand was for lawmakers to cancel a controversial piece of legislation that was approved by the government last week. Critics call it a “slave law” because it allows employers to increase the amount of overtime they can ask employees to work.
As reported by the Guardian, security guards forcibly removed the MP Ákos Hadházy from the premises in the early hours of December 17, but others inside the building refused to leave having spent the night in a makeup room. One MP was driven away in an ambulance on December 17 after sustaining minor injuries in a tussle with guards.
MP Bence Tordai, who got into the building by climbing over a fence said the next step would be for representatives of different opposition parties to meet and agree on a new strategy of resistance to Viktor Orbán’s government.
According to the Guardian, since coming to power in 2010, Orbán’s Fidesz party (which has a two-thirds majority in parliament and widespread support across the country) has wrested control of a number of previously independent institutions, and most local and media outlets are controlled by government-allied figures.
The European parliament earlier this year voted to bring disciplinary proceedings against Hungary over rule-of-law issues.