Thursday November 13, 2014
Budapest has been shaken by several days of mass street demonstration against plans by Viktor Orban’s government to introduce a tax on the internet. According to the media, 100,000 Hungarians came out onto the streets of Hungary’s capital to tell the prime minister “no”.
In and of itself, the internet tax is a weak excuse for the organisation of 100,000-strong demonstrations. And, of course, demands to abolish the tax turned into demands for the resignation of Hungary’s ‘dictatorial’ and ‘corrupt’ government. Attacks were also launched on government buildings: as one, internet users pelted them with stones, notebooks and mobile phones.
Other signs of a ‘Hungarian Maidan’ were also evident: demonstrators defiantly jumped around chanting “He who does not jump pays the tax” (the Ukrainian version of this standard spectacle is “He who does not jump is a Moskal”). Local human rights defenders declared that introducing a tax on the internet is an assassination attempt on freedom of speech unacceptable for a democracy.
Among the demonstrators was the U.S. charge d’affaires in Hungary, Andre Goodfriend, who previously reported that the US authorities had banned six Hungarian nationals close to the Hungarian prime minister from entering the country.