Last Saturday, after several protests organized by citizen movements and opposition forces against the politics of the ruling Fidesz-KDNP government, Hungarians supporting those in power decided to express their opinion at a rally called Peace March.
According to the Hungarian Interior Ministry's report [hu], some 400,000 people expressed their support for the government at the peaceful – and cheerful – event.
Those who thought Fidesz-KDNP had lost the trust of the Hungarian citizens, drawing the consequence from the extensive foreign media coverage of the opposition protests in Budapest, were challenged this time by the fact that the government elected in 2010 with a two-thirds majority still enjoyed the support of many. Fidelitas, a youth group derived from Fidesz, shared some 360-degree panoramic photos of the march.
The protesters marched from Heroes’ Square to Kossuth Square by the Parliament, where brief speeches were delivered. The main organizers of the event were Zsolt Bayer, author of opinion pieces at the conservative daily Magyar Hírlap, Gábor Széles, a wealthy Hungarian entrepreneur and owner of Magyar Hírlap, and András Bencsik, editor-in-chief of Magyar Demokrata [hu], also a Hungarian conservative daily.
The right-leaning blog Mandiner has been very critical of the government recently, and, at first, their blogger, Dobray, who visited the Peace March, also had some doubts regarding the event [hu]:
[...] Compared to what I had anticipated, the march came off even better: the mass of 400,000 (probably fewer than that, the protest maths [competition of whose protest had more attendees] was started by Bencsik at Kossuth Square when he said, referring to a television report, that they were 1 million, which was evidently an unreal figure) walked the distance, and, as no other options were listed on the program, no lame events happened. The puritan minimalism goes hand in hand with a portion of boredom well known from the first, eventless left-wing rallies. But it's hard to pick at that. And that there were some groups with Arpad's striped flags [a symbol of the far right] was not a big deal, we are used to that, they don't do any trouble. We will worry about some Arpad stripes protesters in a mass of a couple of hundred thousands if the left wing expels from their community the comrades parading in the USSR and Che t-shirts. [...]
The fact that describes the complex situation in Hungary best is that the government's supporters oppose the talks and future agreements on the bailout from the EU and the IMF, while the opposition is in favor of reaching the agreements as soon as possible, in order to strengthen Hungary's volatile economy.
Many protesters arrived from outside the capital. The blog of the city of Ócsa wrote [hu] about why they considered it important to participate in the march:
People set off from almost every settlement of the country to express their solidarity with the government elected with the two-thirds majority, with its leader Viktor Orbán and with everyone who has been attacked in the past days. The marchers stand up for the sovereignity of Hungary and stick to the achievements of democracy, they can't stand that foreign politicians, businessmen, banks are willing to administer their lives. [...]
Véleményvezér pointed out [hu] that most of the protesters were elderly:
[...] it was very striking that most of the marchers were aged 50 or older. They are the ones whose private pension savings were not taken away, almost none of them has a foreign currency loan, and the government specifically tried to support them, through measures like the one-time 8-percent pension makeup or by implementing the institution of securing employment for older persons. [...]
Dobray hints at the rumours about paid protesters and organized travel to the rally location, the accusations raised by opposition members:
[...] So now we are even, now really each and everyone has brought politics to the street. And it's funny that at any sort of protest the actual side opposing the protesters tries every method to discredit the other's event; and tries to find those whose travel has been paid for, who were paid to come and who were cheated, etc. Everyone is generous when it's about their protest, but if it's about the other's, they turn petty and suspicious. The neighbour's lawn is always wilted. I also would be happy if the Peace March didn't get listed among the ultimate arguments of Fidesz government allowing them to knock down all the opposing opinions. [...]
Zoltán Ruzsbaczky of Mos Maiorum blog published a guest post [hu] on Konzervatórium blog, noting that the huge number of the pro-government supporters may signify the arrival of a new stage of democracy in Hungary, with a lot of people daring to stand up for their opinion:
[...] Of course, this needs a government that applies this trust and successfully navigates the tempestuous sea of international politics and with its economic policy it sets Hungary on the track of growth. Besides this, one can't get by those masses who still oppose the politics of the government. We will learn only later what the long-term effects [of this march] will be, [and whether there will be any].