EU Flags Hung on Fidesz HQ as Protest Against Internet Tax Turns Violent
Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in downtown Budapest on Sunday evening to protest against the government’s plan to impose a tax on internet use. Balázs Gulyás, founder of a Hungarian Facebook page “100,000 against the internet tax”, called on the government to withdraw the bill. He said that if the government fails to withdraw the bill within 48 hours, the opponents of the tax will be demonstrating again on Tuesday.
The crowd then moved to Budapest’s Heroes’ Square then some protesters marched to the Fidesz party headquarters in nearby Lendvay Street and threw used computer parts at the building, damaging windows and shutters. Several demonstrators climbed onto the balcony of the headquarters, where they hung two European Union flags. The protesters chanted “Viktator”, “We want democracy”, “Europe” and “VAT fraudsters”.
Among the crowd was the U.S. embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires, M. André Goodfriend , who in his twitter feed wrote: “Interesting to see the nature of crowds in Budapest. Internet tax march seemed large & orderly w/good police support”. Later Goodfriend issued another tweet, condemning violence.
In a statement, the ruling Fidesz party voiced consternation over the Sunday demonstration “degenerating into vandalism”. Fidesz said it was open to arguments and prepared to submit an amendment proposal to the bill but held “violence totally inacceptable”. The demonstration was supported by the opposition LMP, Socialist, E-PM, DK and Jobbik parties as well as the Liga Trade Unions, the Teachers’ Trade Union and industry associations.