In the largest protest against Prime Minister Viktor Orban since he came to power in 2010, tens of thousands of Hungarians demonstrated against the country's new constitution Monday.
Accusing the government of seeking to control everything from the media, to the economy and religion, the protestors chanted outside the State Opera in Budapest, where Orban was attending a celebration gala. Many called the prime minister the Viktator, The Associated Press reported.
The prime minister took an oath to defend the constitution, but instead he overthrew it, Laszlo Majtenyi, a former head of the media authority, told the crowd on Andrassy Avenue.
Tonight the Opera is the home of hypocrisy and the street the home of constitutional virtues.
The protesters are upset by a number of provisions of the new constitution, which went into effect Jan. 1. Orban and his Fidesz party used their two-thirds parliamentary supermajority to pass the new constitution, which, activists say, enacts laws that erode the democratic system of checks and balances by increasing political control over the judiciary, the central bank, religious groups and the media, the AP reported.
Viktor Orban claims he's a strong captain, but he's the captain of the Titanic, headed for the iceberg, Petr Konya, head of the Hungarian Solidarity Movement, the event's organizer, told demonstrators.
We must join our forces to restore the rule of law and the republic.
One of the most-talked-about changes in the new constitution is the country's name change: from Republic of Hungary to Hungary.
However, President Pal Schmitt maintained that Hungarians could be proud of their new, and in his opinion long overdue, constitution.
This constitution was born of a wide consultation, building on national and European values, Schmitt said during the celebration of it.
Our basic law defines the family, order, the home, work and health as the most important, shared scale of values.
The United States, the European Union and international watchdogs have criticized the latest move by Orban's government. Last year, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed Orban to commit to the independence of the judiciary, a free press, and governmental transparency, CNN reported.
Orban and other officials were forced to leave the gala through back doors to avoid the protests.
We want the rule of law back and we want the republic back, Konya said. Viktor Orban forgot that the power belongs to the people, it belongs to us, and we will get it back from them.