Photo: MTI

Opposition parties stage demonstration for direct presidential election

Opposition parties held a demonstration for the direct election of the head of state in downtown Budapest on Sunday.

At the event held at Kossuth Lajos Square in front of Parliament, speakers from the Democratic Coalition (DK), Momentum, the Socialist Party and Parbeszed criticised Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s “regime” and a pardon granted by outgoing President Katalin Novak to the deputy head of a children’s home convicted of covering up child abuse.

Klara Dobrev, DK’s shadow prime minister, said the responsibility for the child abuse case at the Bicske children’s home lay with “Orbán’s Fidesz-linked paedophile ring”, but “they won’t be able to make this network disappear with legislative amendments”.

“Orbán must go; it is Orbán’s regime that must fall, otherwise the paedophile ring will remain,” Dobrev insisted.

She said the ruling parties were now “scrambling to elect someone who looks like a president”, calling the process “a presidential election coup” that she said was needed “because Viktor Orbán is afraid of the people”.

Timea Szabo, acting co-leader of Parbeszed, said freedom in Hungary today was under threat “from Viktor Orbán and his paedophile ring”. She insisted that “Orbán’s entire regime is guilty, most of all the prime minister.”

Agnes Kunhalmi, co-leader of the Socialists, said those actually responsible for the Bicske child abuse case were “hidden in the shadows”, adding that those staying silent on the case were accomplices. She also said the opposition parties should field joint election lists for both the European Parliament and municipal elections.

Momentum lawmaker David Bedo said it had still not been explained why the accomplice of a child abuser had been granted a pardon. He said that in addition to a direct presidential election, the opposition should also be demanding justice for victims of abuse. He said his party proposed the establishment of a European child protection authority.

Pastor Gabor Ivanyi, who heads the Oltalom Charity Association, called for “a new change of regime”, saying that Orbán “should be asked to retire from public life”. He said that 33 years ago, the right and the left had been able to agree on who should be elected president.

Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony said Hungary had a government which had spent more on “state propaganda” than on social and child protection. He said the government was spending “tens and hundreds of billions a year on repeating that it is against migration and for families while releasing people smugglers and the accomplices of paedophile monsters from prison”.

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