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Thousands demonstrate in Budapest against so-called ‘slave law’

Saturday, 22 December, 2018 - 18:44

Several thousand protesters marched in Budapest on Friday after the passing of a controversial Hungarian law relaxing rules about overtime work, which has triggered a wave of demonstrations since its vote in Parliament.

Friday’s event should be the last before the year-end holidays, but the opposition hopes to maintain the mobilisation into the new year. The protest was triggered by the December 12 parliamentary vote which allows employees to work up to 400 hours overtime.

On Friday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban defended the reform against “hysterical” protesters . “Those who cry at the end of the world are those who have ruined the country and their lies have no limits,” Orban said on public radio.

The protest movement, which began informally, was marked by unprecedented clashes with the police in front of the seat of Parliament. It has since been endorsed by the unions and the opposition, all of whose components (left, liberal and extreme right) have for the first time united their voices.

According to a survey published on Friday by the Publicus Institute, more than two thirds of Hungarians believe that demonstrations are justified. The demonstrations, however, peaked at only 15,000 people during a rally in Budapest on Sunday, far from the 60,000 who gathered in April 2017 to denounce measures against NGOs and the “Soros University” or the proposed of an internet tax in 2014.

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