Hungarians Revolt Against Internet Tax



After winning the third elections in 2014 (in April there were national, in May European and in October municipality elections in Hungary) the Fidesz government started/kept on working. As one of their first measures on 21th October the Hungarian minister of finance announced the plan of introducing the internet tax.

And the Hungarian internet exploded.

The Facebook page of the resistance has been created immediately and now has more than 215.000 likes, the event of the yesterday protestation has more than 41.000 attendants.

The organisers of the demonstration are independent citizens and organisations, no political party has had an influence on the event neither had any politician a speech at it. However, it was no secret that the participants of the demonstration were not only on the streets because of the internet tax but also because of many other controversial measures of the government.

But on 26th October there were altogether tens of thousands of demonstrators in front of the Ministry of Economy, from where they marched to the Heroes Square in Budapest,,and raised their voices against internet tax and showed their power to the government. (Smaller groups of protesters demonstrated in other Hungarian cities as well.)

Although the organizers have noted that the crowd is much bigger (and maybe angrier) they expected or wished, they officially ended the protestation and did not encourage people to march to the Fidesz party headquarters nearby as it was originally planned. Some of the people still did it and threw used computer parts at the building and damaged it. (According to latest news six people were detained because of vandalism.)

During the demonstration Fidesz issued a statement saying “Violence offers no solution to anything. It is not vandalism but peaceful dialogue what we need”.

So this “peaceful dialogue”, the general silence of Hungarian society has been changed yesterday. But what else?

On the day after the internet tax protests it is hard to tell whether they mean real burning point for Fidesz government or Hungarian politics in general. However, we can have some conclusions on the happenings of the last few days:

– The Fidesz government has been confused by the different critics enforcing each other (opposition parties, civil organisations, companies as usual, but this time also members of Fidesz and other right wing opinion leaders considered the idea unacceptable). Before this their political communication strategy has been flawlessly working – even in seriously problematic issues. For the first time (together with the issue of Hungarian officials banned from entering the USA because of corruption) they show the signs of difficulties.

– There is an existing civil, spontaneous resistance, it is not true that the Hungarian society is helplessly apathetic and accepts everything. The reaction of the Hungarian internet and the pictures of the protest show the presence of the politically interested and conscious, diverse groups of Hungarians who are able and willing to speak up for their rights.

– The biggest challenge for Hungary now is the creation of a real political alternative of Fidesz. A party can be defeated only by other political party or parties – even if they call themselves ‘movements.’ This is particularly hard because in the last few years the critics of the government often were mixed with the critics of politics in general. And if this does not change and politics in general remain the enemy, it will stabilize the power of Fidesz.

Republikon Institute