Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Tens of thousands of Hungarians marched over the Danube River this week, protesting a proposed tax on Internet usage. (Photo: Janos Marjai/European Pressphoto Agency)

Mass Protests Push Hungary to Cancel Controversial Internet Tax

Prime Minister Viktor Orban scraps proposed tax after large-scale anti-government protests rock Budapest

Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

Mass protests in Budapest this week against a proposed Internet usage tax apparently worked: Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Friday that his government would scrap the tax, at least for now.

"We are not Communists, we don’t govern against the people," Mr. Orban said in his regular weekly interview on Hungarian radio. "We govern together with the people. So this tax, in this form, cannot be introduced."

Protest organizers, who said the levy not only imposed a financial burden but threatened to restrict free speech, silence dissent, and access to information, celebrated the U-turn. "Mr. Orban admitted his defeat," they said in a statement. "We are the people! And we the people have the right to rule the country." A victory rally is planned for Friday evening.

The BBC's Nick Thorpe, writing from Budapest, noted that "Orban does not often back down, but he has done so on this occasion for several reasons."

For one thing, the proposed tax of about 61 cents per gigabyte of data managed to unify those who are opposed to Orban and his ruling Fidesz party, which has been accused of authoritarian impulses. The reasons for the tax were poorly communicated, while opposition was well-organized. And Orban's line about Communists, Thorpe said, is "a sign that growing comparisons between Fidesz and the old Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party are hitting the mark."

"What happens next?" Thorpe wondered. "Mr. Orban's decision to cancel the tax deprives his opponents of a valuable rallying cry. The big question for them will be whether they can use the momentum of two big rallies to create new forms of opposition to Fidesz. They have proven that he can be defeated. Mr. Orban has proven that he is more flexible than many analysts give him credit for."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

Sinema Op-Ed Defending Senate Filibuster Slammed as 'Delusional'

Rep. Mondaire Jones said Sinema is effectively arguing that "we should let Republicans destroy democracy now because at some indeterminate time in the future they may try again."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·

Progressives Say 'Do What the People Want and Tax the Rich' to Pay for Infrastructure

"It is obvious that if we're going to address the needs of working families in this country, we need revenue," says Sen. Bernie Sanders, "and one way that we get that revenue is by demanding that the wealthiest people, the largest corporations are paying their fair share."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·

Doctors Without Borders Calls on BioNTech to Share Vaccine Tech With World

"The faster companies share the know-how, the faster we can put an end to this pandemic."

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·

Over 30,000 US Veterans of Post-9/11 Wars Have Killed Themselves Since 2001

"As we come closer to the twentieth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, we must reflect on the mental health cost of the Global War on Terror."

Julia Conley, staff writer ·

Sunrise Ends 400-Mile Climate March With Arrests at Ted Cruz's House

The Gulf South marchers demand that Congress and the Biden White House pass bold climate jobs legislation, including a bill to create a Civilian Climate Corps.

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·