Around 1,000 Hungarians protested against Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Sunday at a pro-EU rally organized by leftist opposition parties, demanding that the government respect democratic rights and other EU values.
The European Parliament voted on Wednesday to sanction Hungary for flouting EU rules on democracy, civil rights and corruption in an unprecedented step that left Orban isolated from some powerful allies in the European Parliament.
Hungary said it would seek legal ways to challenge the ruling which it described as “petty revenge”. However, Hungary is unlikely to be suspended from voting in the EU since Poland and the Czech Republic have said they would back Orban and veto any sanction against Hungary.
“Europe stood by us, now it is our turn,” the organisers of Sunday’s rally in Budapest said in a statement on their Facebook page. “Orban and his Fidesz party lost in European parliament, and Hungary has won.”
Demonstrators at the rally waved both Hungarian and EU flags.
Since he came to power in 2010, Orban has used his parliamentary majority to pressure courts, media and non-government groups in ways his opponents say breach European Union rules. He has been one of the strongest opponents of the EU’s migration policies.
The leftist opposition of the Democratic Coalition, and the Socialists and Parbeszed (Dialogue) party is in disarray after Orban won a third consecutive term in April with a landslide election victory.