Violence exploded outside the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest on Wednesday, prompting police to make 34 arrests as five officers were injured, as demonstrators stormed the building to protest a series of laws passed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban's ruling Fidesz Party - one of which put the country's Minister of Justice in charge of picking judges for newly created federal courts, per Bloomberg.
Hungarian police arrested 34 people when protesters tried to storm the parliament building late on Tuesday after Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s lawmakers passed a series of bills that strengthen his grip on power.
Five law enforcement officials were injured during scuffles as police used tear gas to repel demonstrators, Gergely Gulyas, the minister in charge of the prime minister’s office, told a briefing on Wednesday.
According to Local News 8, hundreds of protesters marched through Budapest and gathered at the parliament building Wednesday night after Orban's party passed a law allowing employers to ask their workers to take on up to 400 hours' overtime per year - something its critics have dubbed "the slave law." But the final straw for demonstrators was the passage of another law allowing the Justice Minister to appoint judges to new courts designed to handle cases concerning "government business" like tax and elections.
Opposition lawmakers decried the law as an authoritarian power grab. After it was passed, pandemonium broke out in parliament.
Hungary's parliament was thrown into scenes of turmoil following the vote on the new legislation, with opposition lawmakers sounding air horns and angrily confronting the Prime Minister.
One member of parliament, Tordai Bence, filmed himself demanding answers from an awkward-looking Orban over the new overtime laws.
Shortly after the vote, around 2,000 people marched through Budapest - some waving EU flags - and converged on the steps of the parliament. Some protesters hurled objects at police, who responded with pepper spray, Reuters reported.
Notably, the demonstrations followed the retreat of billionaire George Soros and his "Open Society" foundation, which left Hungary earlier this year under scrutiny from lawmakers. More recently, the Soros-backed University of Central Europe was forced out of the country under laws intended to curb foreign influence in Hungarian politics. Soros has played a major role in organizing the opposition to Orban's Fidesz party, which won a sweeping landslide victory during Parliamentary elections earlier this year and enjoys overwhelming popular support (particularly in the countryside) largely thanks to its immigration policies.
Soros isn't the only antagonist trying to punish Orban and his government. The European Parliament earlier this year authorized an unprecedented Article 7 proceeding to punish Orban's government for not caving to pressure to institute "open door" policies like those that have been rejected by voters in Germany and Italy.
But as the billionaire investor continues to pursue his vendetta against his former protege (Soros financed Orban's education and was an early benefactor) expect more unrest in the streets of the capital.