Hungary fights the “slave law”

Tuesday 15th January 2019 | Jake

On the first Saturday of 2019 Hungary’s autocratic prime minister Viktor Orban faced the largest, and most coherent revolt to his party’s rule. Tens of thousands braved arctic conditions to hold a mass protest against Orban’s latest legislation, dubbed “the slave law”.

It could be a turning point in Hungary. Under Orban’s particularly nasty brand of right wing governance the country has seen its free-press choked, its courts dictated by government and immigrants villified. After eight years of Orban squeezing his grip on the nation, the opposition has found strength from the prime minister’s unquenchable desire for more of it. His new legislation, “the slave law”, passed back in December. Under the new law companies will have the power to demand staff put in up to 400 hours overtime a year.


Protests followed swiftly, and soon evolved into wider protests aimed at the government. Opposition parties, disorganised and downtrodden by Orban’s distaste for disagreeing voices, have found their collective voice, steering the protests towards Orban’s new courts, his demonising of academics and journalists, and the partisan state-controlled media.

Orban’s Fidesz party won last year’s elections comfortably, so a change of government is unlikely to happen imminently. But resistance to Orban’s rule is growing, and as protest grows stronger (a strike is being suggested by trade unions) so too does the likeliness of “the slave law” being scrapped.