Live coverage of the “NowUs” protest in Budapest

January 2, 2015

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19:18  The Hungarian national anthem is played.  Crowd begins to disperse in the pouring rain.

19:15 Takacs tells crowd “We will protest during the Merkel visit (in February) to show that we want to remain in Europe”.

19:08 Takács says that even if politics cannot change, society can, and that perhaps this will result in changes to the country.  “We must not allow one another to freeze or to go hungry”.

19:04 Takács says that in Hungary authoritarian behavior should not prevail, followed by enrichment of government officials and the construction of stadiums.  Accuses the “professional political opposition” of returning Orban to power in 2010.   Says that for the past 25 years the elite has worked in the interest of discrediting the Republic.  The country did not know what to do about the secret agent files or party financing.

19:00 “MostUs” movement founder Bori Takács takes the stage. “We are not a faceless mob.  We are Hungarian citizens who believe Orban and his system must go!”  Says they must work out what the “new and better system” should be.  Says 1989 was a huge opportunity that the country failed to seize.  “What happened with us and with our country?”  Says those present should be able to answer.

18:54  After greeting police, paramedics and firemen, participatory democracy expert Csaba Madarász tells the crowd his wife is afraid he’ll lose his job after tonight’s speech.  “I have seen civil movements from Iceland to Spain.  We need to regain our fading confidence as well.”  Tells the crowd that hearts in harmony with minds can bring renewal to a country.  “We are not in any way more stupid than the citizens of another country, so there is also a chance that at least our grandchildren will live in a country brimming with self-confidence.”

One protester near the stage continuously shouting “Orban get out!”

18:50  Kálman says the restoration of the pre-2010 system is not a solution.  “I think it is quite clear what our vision is: a free Hungary.”

Sign parodying government “Household expense (“rezsi”) reduction” propaganda.  The sign says “Regime decrease.  Hungary is tolerating corruption worse!

18:48  Lászlo Kálman, linguist, criticizes the parties of the opposition.

 

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18:44  Vágo (above) says “it is not enough to scold Fidesz.  We need alternatives.”  Speaks about the importance of a “culture of disagreement”.   “We need no back door regime change deals but experts”.

18:41  Former LMP politician Gábor Vágo tells the crowd it is necessary to show a “democratic and European alternative” to the Fidesz government.  Encourages everyone to find “one poor person or family” that they can help. Says Fidesz’ days are number.  Crowd erupts with applause and cheers.

18:40  ATV reports that between 13,000 and 14,000 protesters are present.  Majority appear to be middle class.  Large number of young people present.

18:35  “This government should go!”  Crowd cheers loudly.

18:33  Tessza Udvarhelyi, co-founder of the “School of Public Life” tells the crowd “Fidesz has always supported the rich against the poor, just like it is doing now.

Protesters with home made banner saying “Instead of civil war (sooner, later) constitutional convention”

  18:28  Budapest Beacon correspondent Csaba Toth reports that the crowd is “visibly and audibly angry”, chanting “mafia, mafia” at each mention of governing party Fidesz.

18:20 Bernedette Somody, director of the Eotvos Karoly Institute, recalls protest against new Fundamental Law three years ago.  Tells crowd “we need a new Republic that reflects everyone’s values”.  Says Roma, homeless, and gays should have the same rights as other Hungarians.

18:15   “NowUs” social movement organizer Zsolt Várady tells crowd that civil politics must be encouraged.  Says it is not true that they want to launch a political party.  The crowd listens quietly.

18:12   Presenter Lilla Sárosdy tells crowd that Orban’s cronies make it impossible to raise children in Hungary.

  18:11

18:08  Playing Ferenc Gyurcsan’s infamous 2006 Balatonoszed speech in which he confronted fellow Socialist party members with the fact that the party had lied “morning, noon and night” in order to win the general election, and that they had “fucked up” badly.

18:00 Protesters walking along Andrassy Avenue from Oktogon to National Opera House.

18:06  One of Viktor Orban’s old speeches praising the West is playing as protesters assemble in the rain.

17:55  Protesters starting to assemble in front of the National Opera House despite the cold and rain.  Speakers playing Hungarian retro rock.