BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Thousands of Hungarians protested on Tuesday against tax hikes and perceptions of corruption, signalling rising discon-tent with Prime Minister Viktor Or-ban’s government.
In the five years since he was elected prime minister, the charis-matic Orban has courted contro-versy with Brussels, Washington and international financial institutions while managing to keep the majori-ty of Hungarians on his side.
But in the past weeks, Orban has had to back down from a plan to tax Internet traffic that provoked huge protests, and has got into a war of words with Washington over allegations of corrupt Hungarian officials that has left some voters feeling he has gone too far.
Liberals have long disliked him, but in a new source of dissent, some of Orban’s allies have begun voicing discontent with what they said was an unwanted display of wealth by some Fidesz ruling party politicians.
Orban has pledged zero tolerance to corruption, but for the first time since he rose to power, backing for Fidesz fell by more than 10 percen-tage points within a month.
A survey published last week by pollster Median put support for Fi-desz at 26 per cent, down from 38 per cent in October, while Orban’s personal support dropped to 32 per cent from 48 per cent.