25th Mar 2018

Hungarians march against Orban crackdown

  • The CEU, the unversity targeted by Orban, has been founded in Budapest in 1991 (Photo: CEU Hungary)

Thousands of demonstrators marched through Budapest on Sunday (21 May) in protest against Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban's attempts to target a top foreign university and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Demonstrators wanted Orban's government to amend a higher education law which, critics say, attempts to the drive Central European University (CEU) out of Budapest. The university was founded by Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Demonstrators also wanted the government to repeal a bill that would intimidate NGOs which received funds from abroad.

The CEU law is under scrutiny by the European Commission. Orban has also been called on by his party allies in the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) to amend the controversial higher education legislation.

Hungary is due to answer the commission's legal concerns this week.

The EU executive likewise warned Orban's government to scrap a planned law that would require NGOs that receive funding from abroad to be labelled as "foreign funded".

Amid growing frustrations with Orban, the European Parliament took an unprecedented step last week and moved to trigger the EU's so called Article 7 procedure, which can impose sanctions on countries that infringe EU values.

The EU parliament warned of a "serious deterioration" of democracy in Hungary.

Orban is unlikely to back down, however.

Last Friday in a radio interview, he stressed that Hungary was willing to go all the way to the EU's top court, the European Court of Justice, to prove that the CEU legislation did not breach EU law, as the commission says.

He also accused Soros of pulling the strings in Brussels.

Orban aims to crack down on organisations linked with Soros, whose idea of an open society runs in contrast to Orban's plans to build an "illiberal" state in Hungary.

Soros is the latest bogeyman created by the Orban government, as Hungary moves towards general elections a year from now with Orban's ruling Fidesz currently leading in the polls.

Sunday's was the latest in a series of protests that have sprung up since early April, sparked by the legislation on CEU and NGOs.

Demonstrators carrying EU and Hungarian flags chanted "Democracy! Freedom for Hungary!" as they made their way to the parliament building in Budapest.

In a short statement, the Fidesz party said that Sunday's protest was another attempt by the "Soros-network" to put pressure on Hungary over its anti-immigration policy.

MEPs vote to start democracy probe on Hungary

The European Parliament took the first step towards launching the Article 7 procedure against Hungary for backsliding on democracy. The process might lead to sanctions, but Orban is not backing down.

Hungary and Slovakia challenge quotas at the EU's top court

During a hearing at the EU's top court, Hungary and Slovakia defended their decision not to take in asylum seekers based on a mandatory quota system, while the European Commission, Germany and others stressed the need for solidarity.


Selmayr case symptomatic, says EU novel author

The controversy over the new EU Commission top civil servant is revealing of what is wrong with EU institutions and how they are blocked by national governments, says award-winning Austrian novelist Robert Menasse.


The populists may have won, but Italy won't leave the euro

The situation as Rome tries to form a government is turbulent and unpredictable. However, the most extreme eurosceptic policies floated during the election campaign are unlikely to happen - not least due to the precarious state of the Italian banks.


Why has central Europe turned so eurosceptic?

Faced with poorer infrastructure, dual food standards and what can seem like hectoring from western Europe it is not surprising some central and eastern European member states are rebelling.

News in Brief

  1. EU wants 'Paris' climate strategy within 13 months
  2. Workload of EU court remains high
  3. Spain's supreme court charges Catalan separatist leaders
  4. EU calls for 'permanent' exemption from US tariffs
  5. Summit backs guidelines for future EU-UK talks
  6. Macron support drops as public sector workers go on strike
  7. EU leaders condemn Turkey for illegal actions in Aegean Sea
  8. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. Nordic states discuss targeted Russia sanctions
  2. Commission sticks to its line on Barroso case
  3. Germany and France promise new Russia sanctions
  4. EU rejects US trade 'gun to the head'
  5. Tariffs and Turkey will top This WEEK
  6. EU leaders roll over Brexit talks amid Trump and Russia fears
  7. Europe needs corporate tax reform - a digital tax isn't it
  8. EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica