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Hungary commemorates the 1848 revolution - live coverage in English

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2019.03.15. 18:04

Összefoglaló

Today is Hungary's national holiday commemorating the 1848revolution against the Habsburg empire. Politically speaking, it is always a busy day and this year will be no different, Budapest will be full of speeches, protests and other events all throughout the day, follow Index's live coverage in English and don't miss anything.
új hír érkezett, kattintson a megtekintéshez!
  • At the moment, police already outnumber protesters on the square, and a few dozen people have joined Ákos Hadházy on his walk to the Public Media headquarters in the drizzling rain.

    Our reporter on location says: There is a person who still keeps yelling "dictator" on Kossuth square, other than him, there are about two dozen people still here - they are mostly talking amongst themselves in small groups. A young man near me sighed with disappointment: "Once again, we were late for the revolution."

    This brings us to the end of today's live coverage on Index in English, thank you for following the day's events with us.

  • Afterwards, opposition leaders held hands at the top of the stairs leading to the gate of the Parliament, and the small crowd applauded them.

    The lights are on in the Parliament, there must be some kind of an event inside.

  • The first protesters arrived to Kossuth square, where 50-100 people who headed straight to the Parliament were already waiting for them. Police presence is high, rows of policemen are lining up to defend the Parliament's main gate.

    In the meantime, it's starting to rain.

    Protesters occupy approximately a quarter of Kossuth Square.

  • The president of far-right Mi Hazánk Mozgalom (Our Country Movement), László Toroczkai was speaking some 200 metres away from the joint opposition protest at his party's own event.

    He said that equality is a big question in Hungary, evidence of which is that Manfred Weber, when coming to Budapest to "settle the matters with a member of the alliance," his first trip was straight to the Synagogue (which is not true, he first visited CEU, then Orbán, and only then the Synagogue) and said his message there. He asked:

    "Are there groups in Hungary with certain privileges?"

    The leader of the party formed by radicals leaving Jobbik said that Orbán betrayed a demand of the 1848 revolution when he terminated the Hungarian Guard, Jobbik's "paramilitary" organisation that liked to visit small towns to scare minorities. "A national government would have been happy to see that Hungarian people are sacrificing their time and money to visit their events. They did not attack anybody, they wanted to help Hungarian people who got attacked," he said.

    The majority of Toroczkai's speech, however, was about the joint opposition: He said that the government and the "rainbow coalition" are cooperating to rob Hungary. Talking about free press in Hungary, Toroczkai explained that there is none, but Mi Hazánk cannot cooperate with the opposition on that issue, even if they say the same thing. Toroczkai used the government's reasoning saying that even if there is a giant government media conglomeration, most still watch the news of RTL Klub, adding "the international media empire controlled by the Bertelsmann-group is even richer than the government's centralised media foundation."

    He said government propagandists lie just like the non-governmental media. "The politicians of this rainbow-coalition refuse to talk about that." Toroczkai said that censorship in non-governmental media is made apparent by the fact that he has never been invited to RTL Klub, even when he was the vice president of the "second largest party." 

  • The crowd is slowly shuffling towards the Parliament to stick the March Manifesto on the building.

    Ákos Hadházy plans to keep walking to the Public Media's headquarters some 8 kilometres away. Not many are that excited about that walk again, Bernadett Szél has a prior engagement, and opposition party Momentum also declined.

  • Radio presenter Ferenc Vicsek called representatives of all opposition parties to the stage to announce their so-called "March Manifesto," a joint declaration of their values:

    • The state cannot serve the interests of a single party,
    • Everyone deserves equal rights,
    • We demand free press, and real journalism instead of propaganda,
    • We fight against poverty and social vulnerability,
    • The state has no right to incite hatred against its own citizens,
    • Hungary's historic place is within the community of European nations,
    • We will protect our homeland, and we support the preservation of the identity of Hungarian communities,
    • Everyone has a right to proper healthcare and education,
    • We take a stand by proper salaries, a right to strike, and we fight for the abolishment of the slave law,
    • We demand legal certainty and equality before the law.
    • We take a stand against corruption and the theft of public funds.
  • MEP of Párbeszéd Benedek Jávor said that the revolutionaries of 1848 knew that Hungary can be preserved with the fresh, progressive ideas of freedom and equality.

    He said Hungary needs to fight for its independence, so it is no longer ruled by a "pudgy little governor who is dependent on Moscow." Now it is the turn of the Hungarians to defend Europe from "autocracy, tyranny, and eastern despotism." 

    He said a lot depends on the EP elections: "Honesty or a corrupt state, freedom or liberty."

  • Vice president of Momentum Donáth Anna said that in 1848, Hungary and Europe acted in unison along mutual values and common causes. They could act together, the task is now the same. 

  • The 19-year-old Dániel Kálló is the youngest ever MEP-candidate, he is fifth on the list of MSZP. The former spokesman of the Independent Student Parliament said the revolutionary youth of 1848 did all they could for the nation and for the future.

    According to Kálló, politics became distanced from the people, especially young people. They leave Hungary, not for better education, better job opportunities, but because they are "not finding their home in their homeland" he said, quoting Hungary's national anthem. He urged people to get over their apathy because the "ideals of 1848 do not belong in a museum."

  • Bősz Anett, MP of the Liberals said that the goals today are no different than the goals in 1848, as there is no free press, no equality before the law, and no responsible government. 

    "We demand rule-of-law, equality, and democracy"

    said Bősz, and the crowd started chanting "democracy." Bősz said both the 15 March national holiday and the country need to be reclaimed from Fidesz.

  • Szabolcs Turcsán, member of LMP's board said that opposition parties need to grow in a way that they strengthen each other. He spoke about the importance of the fight against climate change, and emphasised that "people are first, not profits." According to Turcsán, the government opposes green policies, and Fidesz has to be removed from power in order to create a sustainable, liveable Hungary, that is why LMP entered into the alliance of opposition parties against Fidesz. 

  • Péter Jakab said Orbán descended below from the Castle to celebrate with his subjects, but he has it all wrong, as this is not the holiday for tyrants:

    "15 of March is the day you fall"

    he addressed the Prime Minister from the stage, and remembered how Viktor Orbán threatened everyone with 'vengeance' precisely a year ago, after which "the slave-law," the fines for Jobbik, and Fidesz's media holding happened.

    Jakab joked that if George Soros had been alive in 1848, Antal Rogán would have called Petőfi, Hungary's revolutionary poet an agent of Soros. Jakab said Fidesz wants to "abolish Brussels."

    Jakab also talked about national unity due to the opposition parties sharing the same stage. He said they may not all agree on everything, but they agree that they need to do everything for the Hungarian nation because it was taken hostage by a "mentally deranged person."

  • MP Ákos Hadházy said he'll tell the opposition what needs to be done.

    • Less talk, more work. He announced they have collected 470 000 signatures for their petition demanding Hungary to join the European Public Prosecutor's Office.
    • The opposition needs to have observers in all voting districts.
    • The opposition needs to take themselves seriously, and believe that change is possible.

    He added that some believe that you can't get Orbán to do anything, however, he was awfully quiet today, so it can be done. He said many believe that the Public Media's director can't be changed, but the opposition has to believe it can be done.

    "We are pathetic idiots if we allow the government to humiliate us on taxpayer's money."

    He announced that the crowd is going to walk to the Parliament to stick the eight demands of the opposition on its door and that he will walk to the public media's HQ, and he's happy if people join. He said that he will blockade the television with 8 MPs. 

  • Klára Dobrev, lead candidate of DK said "our task is clear: building a liveable, normal Hungary," and for that, we need to "break and chase away" Orbán's system. Dobrev said we shouldn't fear the EU, because we are the EU.

    She said whatever Orbán might say, the United States of Europe is not a fever-dream, it will become a reality - the question is if Hungary will be a part of it. The fever-dream according to Dobrev is that "if we become victims of theft, nobody prosecutes the perpetrator." And this is not the EU's fault, "Hungarians did this to Hungarians."

    "If you are a patriot in 2019, you are rebelling against your government."

    Dobrev said Hungarians need to rebel everywhere, there can be no negotiation with autocrats. She said the opposition has three things to do: Rebelling, forcing Fidesz into a minority at the EP elections, and recapturing Hungary city by city at the municipal elections during autumn.

  • Hódmezővásárhely's independent mayor is speaking at the joint protest of the opposition. He is also the leader of Everyone's Hungary Movement.

    Márki-Zay said Hungary was torn in two, and a divided nation commemorates 1848, however, a nation cannot stand divided. He said "nation" means that Hungary is for everyone, left-wing or right-wing. He said that at the elections in Hódmezővásárhely, the power of love trumped the love of power, but then the lack of cooperation killed off all hopes to beat Fidesz at the 2018 general elections.



    He said parties and politicians need to put aside their ego and their personal goals, as people did in 1848. He said something happened in Hungary, something happened that makes the government fear for their power. Ironically, right after a huge election defeat, national unity was finally created, as all opposition parties are sharing the same stage once again. He expressed his sadness over the fact that there is not a joint list at the EP elections, but he offered the cooperation of his movement with the parties this campaign in return for the parties helping his movement in finding honest, credible people to be independent candidates for mayors.

    Márki-Zay said if honest people are reluctant to take on political roles, Hungary's politics cannot cleanse itself, so he urged people to be politically active, and to chase away the local small kings of Fidesz-ruled municipalities during the fall. The way to do that is to find a single opposition candidate everywhere, and have high turnout everywhere.

    He said Orbán cannot credibly commemorate 1848, as the first demand of that revolution was "We wish for the freedom of the press."

    The crowd started chanting "to jail with him" after this.

    He told the crowd that they are the real free media, as the device capable of spreading the truth is in everyone's pockets, and everyone has a right to know the truth.

    "Tell them the truth about who brings migrants into the country, who tries to destroy Europe on Putin's command, and who has a gas-repairsman that is richer than the Queen of England."

  • Szilárd Németh, a veteran politician of Fidesz, the parliamentary state secretary of the Ministry of Defense, librarian by trade and president of the Hungarian Wrestling Federation also spoke on 15th of March. At the event in Székelyudvarhely in Transylvania, Szilárd Németh said the "most important battle of our spring campaign" will be the European Election. He said:

    "Today, another empire is expanding, and its overt goal is to abolish the Europe of free nations and create the United States of Europe, where Hungarians would once again be subjugated by the financial and political aims of another imperial centre."

    The Fidesz politician added that Hungarians are saying no to "imperial, pro-migration efforts. We have to insist on our rights, our freedoms, our sweet language, our values we fought for, our national symbols and historic flags, our Christian faith and culture."

  • A leader of Our Country Movement's youth group warned the audience of "Gender danger," and said:

    "Resist the anti-life fashion that spoils European civilisation. Surpass those against the normality in the fields of sports and knowledge. We have to build a more Hungarian future together that rests on Christian foundations."

  • There are approximately 3000 people at the rally of Mi Hazánk Mozgalom (Our Country Movement) approximately 200 metres away from the opposition protest. The far-right party was founded by radicals leaving Jobbik - there are flags of the old Hungarian far-right party MIÉP and the Independent Smallholder's Party that has not really given evidence of its existence for years.

  • The protest where representatives of all opposition parties will take to the stage is about to begin. The number of people in attendance is low compared to recent demonstrations, even if the weather is way better now than it was in December or January. There are about a thousand people waiting for the speeches to begin, with people slowly trickling to Szabad Sajtó road from Ferenciek Tere.

  • Our colleague on location captured the exact moment when the entertainment value of DK's march towards the big opposition protest at Elisabeth Bridge shot through the roof:

    Yes, this is real. John Williams would be proud.

  • Gyurcsány said he would not have attended Orbán's speech even if his back didn't hurt. 

    "A patriot with self-respect would not be caught dead as the Devil's extra."

    He described Orbán's speech as the "empty oration of a cowardly man," saying Orbán is not defending Christian Europe - he is merely trying to cover up his "dishonest, barbaric, filthy policies" by placing Christianity on his banner.

    Gyurcsány urged Christians to take a closer look at the politics of Orbán and "be horrified how unmerciful it is."

    DK sympathisers chanted "To jail with him," to which Gyurcsány replied: "That is an option."

  • Ferenc Gyurcsány said he does not agree with the notion that every country gets the government its people deserve. He said Hungarians do not deserve to feel ashamed because of their government. He added:

    "A damned band of thieves is ruling over us, and they have created a lousy world."

    Gyurcsány said that if one were to look around, they would only see grayness and complaints. People are whispering and are afraid for their livelihood, you can see "clowns called journalists who are serving the power."

  • The crowed welcomed the former prime minister and DK's president Ferenc Gyurcsány on the stage with shouts of "get well soon," as the politician announced on Facebook shortly before the event that he got injured while trying to pick a Lego brick up from the floor. Still, despite the most likely horrific injury, he was there to speak and said that Europeans are not his enemies but his partners, his enemies are the people trying to make Hungarians suffer. He added:

    "...or maybe not "enemy", but this devilish government is certainly my arch nemesis."

    Gyurcsány said that Orbán and his government see everything black or white, "placing us in boxes, labelling us as friends or enemies."

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  • Democratic Coalition (DK) started their event at 1:00 PM on Egyetem Square in Budapest.

    Sándor Rónai, the party's spokesman took to the stage first. He said his high school reunion was cancelled due to the high number of former classmates who had moved abroad. Rónai said he joined DK to create the United States of Europe, and that is what he will be working for.



    Democratic Coalition's MEP Csaba Molnár was up next, and he said the "Fidesz crooks are visible from Europe," and "Orbán brought shame upon his country." He said the task of DK and the opposition in general is to scrub that shame off of Hungary, saying that "robbing us of a European Hungary is a sin of historic proportions."

    Ferenc Gyurcsány, former prime minister and the party's president is also scheduled to speak soon.

  • Maybe the most surprising thing about Viktor Orbán's speech today was how tame it was compared to his earlier 15 March orations. For most of his speech, he lauded Poland and the Polish-Hungarian friendship and spoke about the protection of Christian culture. Not a single time did he bring George Soros up, and he only implicitly likened Brussels to an occupying empire on one occasion, heated by the enthusiasm of the Polish people in the crowd as he talked about the relationship of the two nations.

    Maybe Manfred Weber's tough words are having an effect on Orbán, maybe he just did not want to provoke tensions before the political assembly of the EPP next Wednesday, either way, here are the main points of the surprisingly reserved speech:

    • Orbán welcomed the Polish guests and Prime Minister Moriawiecki, and said Hungary and Poland has a special place in the hearts of Hungarians, thousand-year-old friendship. He added that without Poland, there would be no free Hungary, and Europe could not have been reunified. He said this strong relationship might seem like a romantic legend in today's European politics, but

    "We think of life as a great romantic adventure that is worth nothing without true friends."

    • A great Central European Renaissance is about to take place according to Orbán; the region is about to relive its former glory. Hungary and Poland know how to be friends in tough times, but finally, the two nations will live in a world in which they want to live. He added:

    "If Brussels attacks Poland, they attack the entire region, including us Hungarians. We are sending a message to those builders of empires who wish to extend their shadow over Central Europe: They will always have to account for the strong bond between Poland and Hungary."

    • Orbán said 1848 reminds Hungarians of their common goal: a free nation living in Hungary in their own independent state. He said Hungarians have a right to their country, their Hungarian way of life, as they like it. He said misfortune and occupying forces can push this truth aside, but no matter how cunning or smart, no empire can change that. Hungary has never been defeated in the wars for preserving the nation and its Christian culture. Orbán said that the fact we are still here is the greatest victory a nation like ours can have over empires.
    • Orbán mentioned historical examples of Hungarians insisting on free choice - and added this thirst for liberty stemmed from Christianity, therefore there is no free Hungary without Christianity, just like there will be no freedom in Europe without Christianity. 

    "without Christian culture, there will be no free life in Europe, and we will lose Europe without the protection of our Christian culture, and Europe will no longer belong to Europeans. We wish for the blindness of the people of Europe to heal, so they can see that we would all lose our freedoms in a Liberal Empire of Europe."

    • About the EP election, Orbán said Hungarians fought the longest in 1848, and Hungarians faced the Russian arms in 1956, and Hungarians stopped migration at Europe's southern border in 2015, and Hungarians want a strong Europe with strong nation-states, and a strong European leader who takes help where it's needed and does not bring problems here. He said:

    "We want a new beginning, to stop Europe's decline and to end the fever-dreams about a United States of Europe, so Europe can belong to Europeans once again."

    • Concluding his speech, Orbán ended with the mix of his old catchphrase "Go Hungary, go Hungarians" with the bit inspired by Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro: "Hungary first, God above all."
  • 300 members of a movement called Klímasztrájk (Climate Strike) stood silently in front of the Ministry of Innovation and Technology to raise the government's awareness about climate change, and to warn the government that the issue needs to be taken seriously and that their immediate action is required.

  • During Orbán's speech, activists of opposition party Momentum hung a sign from the windows of the house across the street from Orbán's stage with a quote from István Széchenyi:

    "The good of the country is not built on the profit of a few lonely individuals, but on the prosperity of all."

  • David Cornstein left after Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki finished his speech:

    Cornstein távozott, amint Orbán beszélni kezdett