The situation in Hungary is looking increasingly tense, as tens of thousands of citizens took to the streets yesterday to protest changes to the country’s constitution.
We explained last week how the EU and the IMF were watching aghast as Hungary’s government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban of the Fidesz party, had implemented new rules that hindered the political independence of the central bank.
However the situation goes even further than just that. RFE/RL reports that controversial reforms are being made to the judiciary and media as well. Changes are even being made to the name of the country (from “Republic of Hungary” to “Hungary”) and dropping the number of official religions to just 14 from 300 (and removing official recognition for many newer Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu congregations).
The AP reports that other laws are seen as a precursor to banning all abortion, while other laws create lifetime prison sentences without the possibility for parole for violent crimes.
Orban rose to power on his populist appeal and his anti-communist history. He and his supporters claim that their reforms, pushed through by a “supermajority” held in parliament, are simply the completion of the country’s two decade transition from communism to democracy.
However, his opponents disagree. While protesting last night outside of Budapest’s state opera house screamed “Viktator” at Orban, accusing him of leading the country towards dictatorship.
WATCH FOOTAGE FROM THE PROTEST: