BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Thousands of protesters demanded the ouster of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government Sunday, a day before a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Around 3,000 people attended the "Spring Comes, Orban Goes" rally outside parliament. Orban's Fidesz party easily won three elections last year but its popularity has nosedived since an aborted attempt in October to introduce a tax on Internet use.
Some in the crowd appealed to Merkel ahead of her meeting with Orban on Monday, holding up signs with slogans in German such as "Angela, don't negotiate with the mafia" and flags of the European Union.
"We want to show that the country is not equal to Orban, that the majority does not support his policies going closer to Vladimir Putin," said rally organizer Balazs Gulyas. "The majority of the people want to be in the EU."
Orban's dealings with Moscow, including an agreement for Russia to build new reactors at Hungary's nuclear power plant and a loan of 10 billion euros ($11.3 billion) to help finance the project, are expected to be on the agenda for the meeting between the Hungarian and German leaders.
Other topics which may be discussed include a series of special taxes aimed at multinational companies, including several German firms, and the rise of the far-right Jobbik party.
Orban is one year into his four-year term. Protester Zsuzsa Cegledi said she wanted early elections to oust the government and complained about corruption.
"Everything is winding up in the pockets of Orban and his entourage," Cegledi said, standing on Kossuth Square.