Hungarians stage Budapest protest against internet tax

  • Published
Media caption,

Nick Thorpe reports from Budapest on the planned internet tax

Thousands of protesters in the Hungarian capital Budapest have demanded a halt to a proposed law which would place a tax on internet use.

Demonstrators held their mobile phones aloft outside the economy ministry and hurled old computer parts at the gates of the ruling Fidesz party.

Campaigners say the legislation is "anti-democratic" and will hit the poor.

Ministers have promised to place a cap on the tax.

The draft law, proposed by the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, would levy a fee of 150 forints (£0.40; €0.50; $0.60) per gigabyte of data traffic.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Protesters threw parts of old computers at the gates of PM Viktor Orban's Fidesz party
Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Thousands held their phones aloft outside the economics ministry in Budapest
Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Viktor Orban has faced accusations of authoritarianism

But many of those who gathered in Budapest on Sunday are worried about the consequences.

Rally organisers said the move "follows a wave of alarming anti-democratic measures by Orban that is pushing Hungary even further adrift from Europe".

In response, the ruling Fidesz party said it would submit an amendment to the law ensuring that monthly payments of the tax were capped at 700 forints.

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

But his opponents have decried what they see as his increasingly authoritarian style and his closeness to Russian President Vladimir Putin.