Opposition MPs took over Parliament's podium

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2018.12.12. 11:47 Módosítva: 2018.12.12. 16:22

The opposition is trying to stop the Parliament's vote on the Overtime Act at all costs. The vote was supposed to happen at 10:15, but several opposition MPs lined up at the stairs leading up to the Speaker's podium in order to block the session from commencing.

Members of MSZP, DK, Párbeszéd, and some independent MPs are standing on the stairs, while Jobbik's MPs are holding a sign saying "Thank you Fidesz" with "Year of the Families" crossed out (Year of the Families is the slogan of the current government program supposed to help families), and "Year of the Slaves" written there instead. 

Ágnes Kunhalmi of MSZP is holding a paper that says "You have laid down for multinationals", referring to her earlier opinion that the overtime law benefits employers and capital. "They will not break through, this law will not go on the vote," she said.

In the meantime MPs of Fidesz were in their seats waiting to see what would happen. All the rows are full, as some initiatives (such as the one about the new administrative courts) require a supermajority. When Viktor Orbán appeared in the Parliament, he was greeted by the sounds of whistles blown by opposition MPs.

Another interlude was when Tímea Szabó and Bence Tordai opposition MPs stepped down from the stairs and went to the chair of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Szabó asked him about his opinion on the Overtime Act, to which he said: "I am doing my job as a representative, I'm happy to give you an interview but now we have to legislate."

Another MP of Fidesz was quick to intervene, sending opposition MPs away from the Prime Minister.

Obstruction of the vote was expected, as an attempt was already made on Monday when opposition MPs handed in almost 3000 proposed changes to the text of the legislation, but in the end, the Parliament voted in bulk about the changes. The opposition protested then by blowing whistles and shouting.

Speaker of the House László Kövér used a trick, commenced the session

With 30 minutes of delay, but László Kövér ended up commencing the session of parliament, but not from the podium but his seat. He said they will examine what is the legal situation with the blockade of the podium, and this investigation will have "consequences regarding the personal lives of the MPs." He then handed off the roles of the speaker to János Latorcai of the Christian Democratic People's Party, and the voting commenced surrounded by the constant whistling of the opposition.

Fidesz lining up to defend the Speaker

More of the opposition MPs left the stairs at this point and tried to approach the speaker János Latorcai. Ministers Gergely Gulyás and Antal Rogán stood in front of the speaker, then were promptly joined by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. This was done in order to prevent opposition MPs stopping the speaker from presiding over the session.

Opposition MP Tordai asked Kövér whether or not it counts as cheating that the votes are held without the opposition MPs' cards being in the voting machines. Kövér told him he is wrong and proceeded to give Tordai a Santa Clause chocolate figure.

The opposition does not take part in the votes, all laws to be accepted today will be voted on only by Fidesz MPs, while the opposition stands on the podium blowing their whistles.

Bence Tordai (MSZP) called people to Kossuth square to protest today's events in front of the Parliament. As it stands around noon, there is not a crowd on the square yet; groups of 3-4 people are scattered in some places, some journalists are waiting at the side of the square, and a 15-20 people strong group of riot police are on standby, setting up a camera on the corner of the square. The president of the Trade Union of Public Employees held a press conference on the square, urging all employees to not go to work on Thursday. They wish to unite employees of the public and private spheres in a strike.

Sound of sirens and EU flags

The Fidesz-KDNP supermajority keeps on passing law after law amongst the incredible noise. Besides the whistles, some MPs joined in on the protest with sirens. 

Opposition MPs brought Hungarian and EU flags to the Parliament, hanging the EU flag in several places.

Since then, the Parliament passed both the Overtime Act and the law establishing a new system of administrative courts that will operate under the control of the Minister of Justice.

This article is a translation of the original version published by Index in Hungarian.

(Cover: Bődey János/Index)

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