My Budapest (38): The three rallies, 2013 edition
23 October was pretty boring this year. Although the weather was wonderful, people did not bother to take part in commemorative events as they used to (see what happened last year on 15 March and on 23 October – yes, no rallies on 15 March this year). You can find a list of events here (in Hungarian). The day started with a boring, old-fashioned and unconvincing ceremony of flag-raising (nine o’clock in the morning, Heroes Square). The usual ceremonial guards (a cavalry regiment, a honour guard and the military band) were not able to attract too many people except some old nationalists and some Chinese tourists. [Double click on each photo to enlarge it!]
People who really cared about the significance of this national holiday were in other places where no official could be spotted: below, a person is lightening some candles close to the monument of the 1956 Revolution against communism, in the City Park.
And let us see now the three rallies. The one organized by the opposition was the most disastrous. Usually the place used to be the Elizabeth Bridge and the Szabad sajtó street – but this year the rally was organized in the Pest side of Budapest, on Műegyetem rakpart (Technical University Quay). Quite a narrow street for such a rally – and I cannot believe the organizers really desired the location: probably the government wanted to gather them as tight as possible, to discourage people to protest:
I couldn’t make too many photos at the opposition’s rally, so after quite a serious physical effort we succeeded to make a breakthrough and get out of the tight crowd. So the next destination was Deák Ferenc square (down-town), where the extremist party Jobbik had its own rally. Same faces as in every Jobbik demonstration, lots of flags, traditional costumes, music, and young extremists dressed in black (actually, I dare to say that very few young people join the other two demonstrations, and this says a lot).
So we quickly left the Jobbik rally and advanced forward on Andrássy ut, in order to catch the FIDESZ (government) march. We heard about 200,000 people here, and after what I’ve seen I would say the number was correct. Yes, 200,000 old people brought to Budapest from all over the country and from other states as well (Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, I even saw a bus with an Ukrainian plate). And of course, why shouldn’t they come to see once again Budapest, as long as the government pays their transportation? Because the parliament is in renovation, this time the crowd gathered in Bem tér (the Buda side of Budapest, close to the Margit bridge), walked on the bridge, then toward Andrássy ut, and finally stopped in the Heroes Square (Hősök tere) where prime minister Viktor Orbán was going to give a speech. Unfortunately it was too late to catch the march (both opposition’s rally and government’s march started at 2 PM). On our way towards the Heroes Square, on Andrássy ut we spotted many people lightening candles on House of Terror’s walls (Terror Haza is a museum dedicated to the memory of the victims of communism and fascism. The pictures on the walls are of those people killed in the 1956 anti-communist revolution, celebrated each year on the 23rd of October).
People were gathering in the Heroes Square. Here, marching on Andrássy ut, some people brought here with buses from Romania are asking for the territorial autonomy of the Székely land (situated in Transylvania, Romania):
And then prime minister Viktor Orbán started his speech. The usual things: we are Hungarians, we are making our own rules, European Union should mind its own business, ‘I’m the best so fuck the rest’, and the like.
And this is the reaction children had when Orbán started his speech:
And that was all. After prime minister’s speech some people enjoyed their last hours in Budapest and others went directed to the busses to go back home. The party is over – not even Jobbik members bothered to plan some violent acts any more.