Tens of thousands of Hungarians have taken to the streets to protest at what they see as the country’s slide into dictatorship. But as has proven to be the case in the UK, the US and much of Europe, the government has paid little attention and has pushed ahead with controversial new reforms.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban of the Fidesz party has implemented new laws that critics say have undermined the independence of the country’s central bank. Also, there are concerns that social policies are set to be enacted that will (among other things) outlaw abortion and pass mandatory life sentences for violent crimes without the possibility of parole.
Supporters of the government argue, however, that necessary austerity measures are being misinterpreted. Controversial rules to limit the number of official religions, for example, are said to be aimed more at removing taxpayer subsidy liabilities than banning various religious groups. Others argue that hardline initatives are not dictatorial but are merely reflective of the ruling government’s mandate.