Budapest Hit by Protests Over ‘Slave Law’

About 10,000 Hungarians marched through Budapest on Sunday. It was the fourth day of protests against a new labor law with growing anger over the authoritarian rule of right-wing nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orban.

A new law allowing employers to insist up to 400 hours of overtime work per year has led critics to label it the “slave law” and calling it a “strange form of authoritarian capitalism.”

The protests have become a platform for generalized anger at Mr. Orban, whose Fidesz party controls parliament. Criticism has also come over a recently passed law allowing the government to establish new administrative courts that will oversee electoral law, protests and corruption issues.

Protesters blew horns, waved flags, carried trade union banners, chanting “we are not robots” and demanding Mr. Orban to reverse the new law. Police began firing tear gas on the crowd when protesters arrived at the headquarters of state-run television station MTVA and tried to storm the building.

Hungary has a small and shrinking labor pool, to make up for it the government is scheduling increases of the retirement age and now this new labor law.

The latest protests, which followed smaller demonstrations beginning December 8th, are a new and different challenge to Mr. Orban’s popularity and authority. Polls say 83% of Hungarians disapprove of the labor law. The country’s trade unions, normally silent on Mr. Orban’s authoritarian crackdowns against media and academia, have joined the protests.




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