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Thousands rally in Hungary over internet tax despite govt concessions

Thousands rally in Hungary over internet tax despite govt concessions

Tens of thousands of protesters rallied in Hungary despite the government’s amendment of a controversial internet tax bill. The demonstrators say the country is turning anti-democratic and drifting away from the EU.

The protest against the policies of Prime Minister Viktor Orban reignited on Tuesday night, as an estimated 100,000 people took to the streets, reports Reuters. The demonstration follows similar action on the weekend, at which protesters demanded that legislation imposing a tax on internet traffic be withdrawn within 48 hours.

Instead, the government introduced an amendment on Monday that caps the proposed tax at 700 forints ($3) per month for individuals and 5,000 forints ($21) for companies. This wasn’t enough for the protesters, who accuse the government of authoritarian trends.

Since taking power in 2010, Orban’s center-right government has imposed taxes on the banking, retail, energy and telecommunications sector. The measures are designed to keep the budget deficit in check, but have hurt some foreign investors’ profits.

The PM’s Fidesz party scored a landslide victory in this month’s municipal elections, while left-wing parties performed poorly, failing to produce a joint candidate to spearhead their campaign.

The people behind the protests, however, are evidently not among Orban’s supporters, as they were demanding his ouster during the latest rally. The crowd organized by a Facebook-based social network, which appeared to be composed of well-heeled professionals, marched through central Budapest carrying slogans like “How many times do you want to skin us?”

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