Hungary protests continue for fifth day amid growing anger at Orbán tax changes

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The Guardian

Thousands of people protested in Budapest on Saturday for a fifth day against Viktor Orban’s government as anger deepens over tax changes that critics say will hurt small businesses.

Hungarians have taken to the streets since the parliament approved a law change on Tuesday that will affect hundreds of thousands of small-sized business owners.

The protests are the first since Orban, the prime minister, won a consecutive fourth term by a landslide in April.

Several thousand people marched through downtown Budapest on Saturday chanting “Orban get lost”.

“It’s crazy what they [the government] have done,” one protester, 37-year-old lawyer Ilona Pusztai, said. “This will not lead to more income for the budget.”

Another protester, Zoltan Gemesi, a 68-year-old teacher, said: “The government is currently planning such austerity measures [but] people cannot tolerate them any more.”

Addressing the rally, Peter Marki-Zay, who headed a united opposition but lost against Orban in April, said the nationalist premier’s campaign promises had been “proven to be lies”.

In his regular radio address on Friday, Orban defended the tax law change as “good and necessary”.

Despite price caps on essentials, the central European country faces soaring inflation and a plunging local currency amid talks with Brussels over held-up European Union funding.

Hungary, which largely depends on Russian oil and gas, declared a “state of danger” on Wednesday over the energy crisis sparked by the war in Ukraine.

Among the measures to tackle the problem, people who consume more than the average amount of energy will have to pay for it at the market price rather than the heavily subsidised state rate.

July 17, 2022 at 12:57PM Agence France-Presse in Budapest

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