Ferenc Gyurcsány (on the right) | Zsolt Szigetváry / MTI

Former Hungarian PM detained after protest

December 23, 2011

Former Hungarian premier Ferenc Gyurcsány - and several Members of Parliament who chained themselves outside parliament in an anti-government protest - were detained Friday among 26 demonstrators, police announced.

About 100 people had gathered in front of parliament to protest what they called a new “regime” being introduced by Prime Minister Viktor Orbén. Deputies of the opposition green LMP party chained themselves together to block the car entrance to the building in protest at contentious legislation.

Gyurcsány said in a television interview Friday evening that he was arrested after he stepped into the place of the LMP members of parliament who had been taken away by police. Gyurcsány said no charges were being brought against them. Police said all 26 had been released after a few hours in custody.

As foreign news agencies pointed out, Parliament, dominated by Orbán’s center-right Fidesz party, was to pass or debate a series of contentious laws on taxes, election rules and the central bank, which critics insist were only created to enforce Orbán’s hold on power.

“One day before Christmas, the governing party is passing a host of laws in stealth, each of which individually presents a serious danger to democracy,” an LMP spokeswoman told the French news agency AFP in Budapest. All the new legislation “cements its power,” she added, describing December 23 as “the birth of the Orbán regime.”

A draft law on the central bank (MNB) was also to be amended Friday after the European Central Bank, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund expressed repeated concerns about its effect on the bank’s independence. Opposition suspects the reason for the move is for the government to put its hands on MNB's foreign currency reserves to finance its economic policy.

AFP adds that since coming to power for the second time in mid-2010, Orban has embarked on a shake-up of Hungary that critics say is eroding democracy in the European Union member state.


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