Hungary protests: MPs opposing far-right leader Viktor Orban ejected from state broadcaster's HQ

Politicians thrown out of TV building after demanding labour law is repealed

Adam Forrest
Monday 17 December 2018 17:25
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Hungary: Protesting MPs ejected from state Broadcasting HQ

Hungarian politicians opposing the rule of right-wing nationalist prime minister Viktor Orban have been ejected from the headquarters of a state broadcaster in Budapest.

In videos posted on opposition politician Bernadett Szel’s Facebook page, she and fellow independent Akos Hadhazy were seen getting pushed out of the MTVA headquarters by security guards.

A group of 10 politicians had entered the building, insisting on the right to read five demands regarding Mr Orban’s new “slave law” live on air.

Mr Hadhazy refused to let go of the building’s staircase before he was manhandled outside by security officials.

The group’s demands included the repeal of the government’s labour law, passed last week in parliament by 130 votes to 52, which gives employers the right to request up to 400 hours of mandatory overtime annually.

The government has argued that the law will help relieve the current shortage of labour in Hungary’s booming manufacturing sector, and allow workers to earn more.

But the “slave law,” as critics have billed it, has sparked widespread protests among unions, student groups and leftist opposition parties across the political spectrum over the past week.

Thousands braved freezing temperatures to demonstrate outside the parliament in Budapest on Sunday, where speakers condemned the new law and an angry crowd chanted slogans such as “We’ve had enough”.

As protesters dispersed on Sunday evening, an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people moved on to the state broadcaster, where they continued to shout anti-government slogans.

Anti-government demonstrators gathered outside parliament in Budapest on 16 December

After the delegation of opposition MPs were allowed into the building to negotiate their demands, riot police guarding the headquarters outside used pepper spray on at least two occasions to repel protesters trying to break through the cordon.

Protesters returned to the MTVA headquarters on Monday morning and vowed to continue the struggle.

Both Ms Szel and Mr Hadhazy are former co-presidents of the green party Politics Can Be Different. Both remain members of Hungary’s national assembly.

Balazs Hidveghi, communications director of Mr Orban’s governing Fidesz party, denounced the lawmakers’ actions.

He said any attempt by politicians to “forcefully interfere” with state media was unacceptable. He accused the lawmakers of setting off a fire alarm and “violently attacking public TV staff.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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