Saturday 18 November 2017

Nicky Larkin: Hungarian students face hostage crisis in crackdown

Some Hungarians fear for their democracy as the ruling Fidesz party pushes through a raft of restrictive laws

A protester wears a FIDESZ-sticker on his mouth to protest against the new Hungarian Constitution during an anti-government demonstration in front of the headquarters of the governing FIDESZ party in Budapest on March 30, 2013. The fourth modification of the basic law will be come into force on April 1. AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEKATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images
A protester wears a FIDESZ-sticker on his mouth to protest against the new Hungarian Constitution during an anti-government demonstration in front of the headquarters of the governing FIDESZ party in Budapest on March 30, 2013. The fourth modification of the basic law will be come into force on April 1. AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEKATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images

Nicky Larkin

THE streets of Budapest heaved with protesters. Thousands of Hungarians rallied against the latest changes to their constitution. Dissenting murmurs spoke of dictatorship as the waft of anti-democracy mixed with tear-gas.

In an authoritarian crackdown, prime minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party has swept through amendments effectively criminalising the homeless, curbing gay rights, and banning election campaigning on private media. The changes also restrict the powers of the constitutional court by rendering any of its previous decisions invalid.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso told the Hungarian PM his government should address issues "in accordance with EU democratic principles". The council of Europe urged Viktor Orban to postpone the vote. Orban ignored them.

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