Europe

Hungarians march against draft internet tax

Protesters in Budapest Image copyright AFP
Image caption Protests began on Sunday but escalated on Tuesday as thousands marched over the Elizabeth bridge

Tens of thousands of protesters have marched through the Hungarian capital Budapest against plans to tax internet use in the biggest anti-government demonstration for years.

Huge crowds gathered in the capital's main squares and there were smaller rallies in six other cities.

The government has drafted a law which would levy a fee on each gigabyte of internet data transferred.

The EU has condemned it as a bad idea that could threaten political freedom.

Protests began in Hungary on Sunday, when demonstrators hurled old computer parts at the Budapest headquarters of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's ruling Fidesz party.

Under the proposals, internet providers would be made to pay 150 forints (£0.40; €0.50; $0.60) per gigabyte of data traffic.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Protesters wave an EU flag in front of policemen during the protest

The fee is one of a series of measures proposed by the government to bring down the budget deficit.

The ruling Fidesz party has tried to stem the anger by proposing a 700-forint cap on the tax for individuals and 5,000 forints for businesses.

But opponents believe the tax reflects the increasingly authoritarian style of Mr Orban.

For the first time, the ruling party's opponents from across the whole political spectrum, from the left to the far right now have a common cause, our correspondent says.

Despite divisions within Fidesz, Mr Orban commands broad popularity in Hungary and the party has won three elections this year.

The government criticised US charge d'affaires Andre Goodfriend after he was photographed among the protesters on Sunday.

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