Several dozen protesters turned up at the Budapest headquarters of the ruling Fidesz party on Thursday to demonstrate against the planned amendment to the constitution.
The civil protesters climbed over the front gate and into the garden of the building but they did not manage to get into the building itself.
The demonstrators then started a sit-in with the banners: “the constitution is not a game”, “fair campaign, free elections!” displayed, as well as others critical of legislation against the homeless and ones calling for an independent judiciary, freeing churches from state control and free university studies.
MTI’s correspondent said the demo was “spontaneous” and not organised by any single organisation.
About half a dozen police cars arrived at the scene, and one of them crashed with another vehicle in front of the building.
One demonstrator was removed from the site in handcuffs for ignoring police requests to refrain from entering the building.
One of the participants said the peaceful demonstration would continue as they believed “the rights of every Hungarian will be curtailed if the fourth amendment passes”. He said they would remain at the building until the bill is withdrawn.
Earlier in the week civil organisations asked for the Venice Commission to review the planned changes, which they said would “undermine the rule of law and constitutionalism in Hungary by further weakening the constitutional court’s control over parliament and by repeatedly, and in bulk, inserting regulations into the Basic Law which the constitutional court had found unconstitutional or in breach of European human rights treaties.” The European Commission said it was closely following the developments on the amendment.
In a blog post, Ferenc Kumin, the deputy state secretary for international communications, rejected criticism of the amendment. Concerning the fourth constitutional amendment court, he wrote, “…we have some that will be left untouched, some that will be rephrased following the Court guidelines and some that will truly be implemented into the Fundamental Law.”
A parliamentary vote is scheduled on the tabled amendment next week.
Fidesz blames Bajnai
In a statement reacting to the protest, Fidesz’s press office said “aggression is an unacceptable tool”.
“If [former prime minister and head of the Together 2014 electoral movement] Gordon Bajnai let us know in advance, then we would have allowed his people into the Fidesz headquarters without hesitation. We regard everyone’s opinion as important and listen. But freedom of speech does not equal freedom of violence,” the statement added.
“Hungary has not asked for an intensive and anti-democratic campaign of hate which the left wing is pursuing,” it said. “In 2010, after eight years of chaos and division, it voted for calm, togetherness and safety.”
Fidesz told MTI in another statement that “Bajnai’s people caused damages worth half a million forints when they broke into the headquarters, broke windows and damaged a door.”
“They used physical violence against the women and men working at the headquarters,” the statement added.
The electoral movement 2014 issued a statement saying that Bajnai had nothing to do with the events unfolding at the Fidesz headquarters.
“Those occupying the headquarters have nothing to do with Bajnai or the organisations he represents, and Fidesz knows this,” the statement said. “We are issuing this statement so that the electorate should know this too.”