Editor’s Note: For detailed information on specific demonstrations, as well as background on the controversy surrounding the financing of the pro-government rallies, see this post on the “Contrarian Hungarian” blog.
Huge crowds are expected for contrasting demonstrations of support and opposition to the government tomorrow as political parties and other groups mark the March 15 national holiday.
Organisers of the pro-government rally have denied reports that special buses will be laid on to bring participants in from the countryside.
News website Origo reported earlier that many participants of the January 21 Peace March in support of the cabinet arrived in Budapest on buses for which tickets were free or very cheap, but Fidesz caucus spokesman Ákos Krakkó said the party is not organising buses for Thursday’s gathering.
One of the organisers, Magyar Hírlap writer Zsolt Bayer, said everyone travelled at their own expense in January and will do so again this week. He added that 100 volunteer stewards will secure the event.
Billboards promoting the event have appeared in the countryside, which Bayer said have been paid for by the Civil Co-operation Conference (CÖF), HVG reports.
A massive crowd is expected, as the January gathering drew a crowd of 100,000 according to most reporters, while state and Fidesz officials put the figure at 400,000.
An estimated 2,000-5,000 Polish supporters are also expected to arrive for the event on special trains, organised in part by Polish conservative magazine Gazeta Polska.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people are expected at the protest staged by the Facebook group known as Milla, spokesman Balázs Tóth told Origo.
Some 20,000 turned up for the group’s anti-government rally on the Erzsébet Bridge and Szabadsajtó út last March 15, at which Polish writer Adam Michnik was one of the main speakers.
It was confirmed that French MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the most prominent of the French intellectuals who issued a statement of support for the protest on Monday, will not attend tomorrow’s demonstration.
A group of French Socialists have said they will attend.