Hungarians protest government budget, corruption

AP News
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Posted: Dec 14, 2014 3:26 PM
Hungarians protest government budget, corruption

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Around 2,500 Hungarians protested outside Parliament on Sunday against alleged government corruption, austerity measures and deteriorating social welfare programs.

Protest organizer Zoltan Vajda said the 2015 state budget to be approved by lawmakers Monday was unworthy of Hungary.

"The government is a lie," Vajda said. "Their whole system is based on lies and (Prime Minister Viktor) Orban himself is a lie."

Rallies against Orban's government have been held regularly over the past two months, sparked by a failed attempt to tax Internet use, Orban's increasingly close economic ties with Russia and suspected corruption among top officials, including at the national tax office.

"Why are there many thousands of us here on this cold winter night on the third Sunday of Advent instead at home baking cookies?" Vajda asked, to which protesters yelled "So Orban will go away!"

People were also upset by government plans to reduce enrollment at universities to increase the number of blue-collar workers and a proposal to greatly expand the system of road tolls.

Laszlo Csabai, wearing a large hat inscribed "St. Orban's Corrupt System," said the 51-year-old prime minister was "trying to interfere in our most personal things" with efforts to prevent most stores from opening on Sundays and plans to introduce drug tests for journalists and politicians.

Initially, mandatory testing was also being considered for children between the ages of 12 and 18, but Orban said they would be carried out only if requested by parents. Orban said testing was needed because drug users could not be counted on in the fight against the alleged "drug mafia" he wants to drive out of Hungary.