[QODLink]
Europe
Massive pro-government march in Budapest
More than 100,000 rally in support of Hungarian PM's reforms, ahead of bailout talks with EU which opposes legislation.
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2012 04:16

More than 100,000 people have marched in the Hungarian capital in support of Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, who is under fire from the European Union and at home over controversial reforms.

The demonstration, which headed for the parliament in Budapest, was organised by Orban's ruling centre-right Fidesz party.

The long procession dubbed the "Peace March for Hungary" left Heroes' Square at 4pm (15:00 GMT) on Saturday and began arriving two hours later at the Neo-Gothic legislature on the banks of the Danube River.

The European Commission has given Hungary a month to change some laws, particularly those related to the independence of the central bank.

The laws have impeded talks with the EU over a $25bn credit from the bloc and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Orban is to meet Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, in Brussels on Tuesday.

The prime minister has said that "a political agreement" will likely be reached at that meeting.

Many marchers carried Hungarian flags, candles, torches and signs expressing their support for Orban.

Al Jazeera's Rory Challands, reporting from Budapest, said that Orban had before him a very difficult choice.

Follow our comprehensive Euro Crisis spotlight coverage

"If he doesn't capitulate to the EU and the IMF then what that might do is jeapordise the money that the IMF might provide for Hungary to help it out of its dire economic situation," he said.

"If he does capitulate, he runs the risk of looking quite weak in front of his supporters, because he did win a two-thirds majority in 2010 ... but since then his opinion polls have been sliding and he is not nearly as popular as he was.

"We have seen that thanks to exaggerated and biassed reports, our country is being portrayed in an unjust and undignified way and that is harming our economy and our people," the organisers said in their call to protest.

"We want nothing else than for the people of Europe and the United States to understand that we want to live in freedom, within the framework of democracy, by respecting others.

"We democrats believe in our nation's independence, we believe in its future and its present."

Demonstrators came from all over Hungary, as well as from neighbouring countries with large ethnic Hungarian populations, such as Romania and Slovakia.

Many of those taking part carried Hungarian flags and banners with slogans saying "We love our country, we love Viktor".

The crowd remained peaceful throughout the demonstration, playing drums and repeatedly singing the Hungarian national anthem, as well as revolutionary chants from the 1848 to 1849 rebellion against Austria.

Some marchers brandished anti-EU placards.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.