Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Here are some photos I made yesterday.

As told in the diary, only Milla staged a delayed protest, none of the parties tried to hold a substitute rally. Thus this time, there was no far-right 'counter-protest', either. But on my way, I saw a sticker of one of the right-of-Jobbik slinters, the 'Hungarian National Front' (the red/whitr striped flag is based on the far-right's Árbád-stripes flag, the outline is a guy holding a Kalashnikov, the slogan is: "Order, Power, Honour!" – as of now they represent none.)

One of the main university complexes in Budapest is a few hundred metres from the protest site. In front of it, there was this switchbox with a graffiti of independent student organisation HaHa:

Due to construction works, the Milla protest was at a different location than usual. But this location is symbolic of something, too: the shield-like roof on the right of the stage belongs to Budapest's still unfinished Metro Line 4, which was already scandalously long delayed and over budget under the previous government, but Fidesz's revenge on Budapest (even after the Fidesz candidate became major) included causing a work stoppage. The crowd was maybe 5,000 people.

The first 'speaker' was a Pinochet impersonator.

This set the frame for the sober mood during the next speakers who described the spreading misery in their sectors (there was a social worker, a feminist, a teacher, a student, and a Roma activist), a mood that wasn't lifted by the failure of the opposition alliance idea (although this time the Socialists came with prominently displayed flags) and the weather (the wind became strong again at the time of sunset and I shivered in a thick winter coat). Most speakers mentioned the modification of the constitution. One new idea that came up was parliament and election boycott, but the same parties who were more bothered about each other than the government power grab are unlikely to go that route.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Mar 18th, 2013 at 04:53:33 PM EST
I realise there are few details in the diary about the austerity measures that spread misery. So here is one example, based on an article in Népszabadság: going after the disabled.

The Orbán government's main method of selling austerity measures is to vilify their victims. In this case, the disablement benefits scheme had to be overhauled because of supposedly rampant cheating by fake disabled people. But the real government intent of cost reductions on the back of the needy was made clear by setting a target for reductions: 190 billion Forints (€620 million) from mid-2011 until the end of this year. However, so far only 17 billion Ft was saved, because most people reviewed kept their benefits, 'only' about one in seventy lost his or her. But many of those aren't fakers, either, but victims of arbitrary new rules. For example, receiving disablement benefit is linked to a certain number of days worked in the five years prior to turning disabled – long-term unemployed or young people who just found a new job are left out in the cold. Now, what is the government's reaction? They are displeased about the failure to achieve the envisioned savings – and now want to turn the screw again.

According neo-liberal conventional wisdom, those receiving disablement benefits, unemployment benefits or pensions are all classes of dependable people whose numbers have to be reduced or else the economy dies due to shrinking workforce. But where are those jobs for people kicked off benefits or not allowed to retire supposed to come from? In Hungary's example, while the Orbán government went after everyone on benefits and continued to implement the previous government's plan to raise retirement ages, even official unemployment is growing. In February, about 20% more people were looking for a job than 12 months earlier.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Mar 22nd, 2013 at 03:57:27 PM EST
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