In her speech at the protest organised by the Radical European Democrats (RED) movement, Sargentini stressed the importance of a free media and being critical of governments in a democracy. She said it was dangerous to conflate a government or a political party with the state or its citizens, adding that this is what was happening in the case of debates on the situation in Hungary.

Sargentini said it was important for trade unions, civil groups and opposition parties to come together. As regards her report, she said it focused on a number of key topics about civil rights in Hungary and how its government was undermining those rights. The MEP said all European citizens have equal rights, and she is expressing solidarity with Hungarians because they are "first-class European citizens".

The time for "quiet diplomacy" was over and it was time to act, lest the situation worsened.

Europe or 'Orbanistan'

Socialist Party MEP István Ujhelyi said being Hungarian was equally important to remaining European. "Let's keep Hungary in Europe," he said. "But we have to choose: Europe or Orbanistan."

Democratic Coalition MEP Csaba Molnár said Hungary was "revolting" because Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had "ruined" the shared European ideal in the EU over the past few years. He said that by not expelling ruling Fidesz from the ranks of the European People's Party, EPP group leader Manfred Weber was "protecting a deceitful, corrupt regime that is rotten to the core".

Párbeszéd MEP Benedek Jávor's speech was read out by his colleague Roland Papp. He said "Orbán's Hungary" was becoming a country of public workers and overworked public sector workers. "The majority of Hungarians do not want a country like the one being built by Orbán today," he insisted.

János Kendernay of LMP said the "Orbán regime" was serving big capital over the people. He said Hungary's workforce would eventually disappear because "anyone who can is leaving".

Barnabás Mester, one of the founders of the RED movement, pointed out the number of Hungarian participants at anti-government protests abroad, saying that those people had left Hungary because of the government's policies.

Balázs Nemeth of the Momentum Movement said 2019 would be the "year of resistance" and Hungarians would have to be politically active "until Hungary has a democratic government again".

Jobbik against joint attack
Jobbik is against the cooperation of all opposition parties before the European parliamentary elections because votes would be cast for party lists and "such cooperation stands without an example" in Europe, the party says. An opposition list "would turn into a parody" and would quickly disintegrate, causing confusion and only serving ruling Fidesz's interests, a statement said. Jobbik, which defines itself as a "social people's party", will not enter into an alliance with Democratic Coalition leader Ferenc Gyurcsány or other political forces that refuse to contribute to efforts to establish a European wage union and do not believe that men should be eligible to retire after 40 years of work, it said. However, Jobbik added that being the strongest opposition party, it will continue to cooperate with others in certain concrete issues.

Demo work of 'Soros network': Fidesz

The demonstration in Brussels is not about Hungary's new labour code, the judicial system or the rule of law and democracy but it is the work of the "Soros network", state secretary for international communications Zoltán Kovacs said in a blog entry.

# This is a concerted campaign effort of the international left: state secretary for international communications Zoltán Kovács (Photo: Origo)

The "international Left engaged in a concerted campaign effort, desperate to find some sliver of hope for their own electoral chances and to smear a popular, democratically elected government that staunchly opposes immigration and insists on national sovereignty", he said.

Anyone who looks at the details of the new labour law can see that the claims of the Hungarian government's political opponents are a farce, Kovacs added. The new rules made it possible for employees to voluntarily work more overtime hours.

Referring to an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) chart which he inserted in the post, he said it showed that the new rules would take Hungary closer to the OECD average. "But if you're worried about 'slavery' you should probably look at some of those other labour markets."

As regards the judicial system, Kovacs said Hungary's has long been a part of the Austrian and German legal tradition, where the constitutional courts are clearly independent. These new courts would do nothing to undermine that, he said, referring to the public administration courts.

Kovacs sharply criticised the "unsavoury coalition of parties" that have joined forces. "They've got the Hungarian Socialists and the Liberals and the Green and, in their Budapest demonstrations and plans to compile a common list for the European parliamentary elections in May, they also include – wait for it – the far-right, anti-Semitic, anti-Roma Jobbik."

He said Jobbik is the same party whose vice-president once called for a list to be drawn up "to find out how many MPs or government officials of Jewish origin there are who pose a certain national security threat.

"For years, Leftists, the liberal media establishment, and the pro-migration Brussels elite have tried to smear the Orban Government as 'anti-semitic' and 'xenophobic'. Sargentini even had the audacity to include a passage about 'rights of persons belonging to minorities, including Roma and Jews' in her report. But what do they do when Hungary's left cosies up to the real xenophobes? They simply turn a blind eye."

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