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Hungary’s opposition parties paid tribute to the heroes of the anti-Soviet uprising of 1956 in a joint Facebook video message. Péter Jakab, leader of conservative Jobbik, called October 23 a symbol of Hungarians’ desire for freedom. “Regardless of whether someone was politically right or left-leaning, their background or beliefs, there was an agreement that oppression and exploitation needed to end,” Jakab said. Tímea Szabó, the co-leader of liberal Párbeszéd, said this day represented justice, arguing that “progress cannot be about replacing our old overlords with new ones while millions are left on the side of the road … with the overlords of the day swanning around in luxury while millions are still forced to struggle just to make ends meet”. LMP co-leader Máté Kanász-Nagy said Oct. 23 had been the day when Hungary “woke up” and declared that it wanted to go in a new direction with new leaders. Erzsébet Schmuck, the party’s other co-leader, added that the national holiday was a symbol of Hungarians’ perseverance. “Hungarians’ desire for freedom is stronger than any oppressive regime and in the end, liberty and justice shall prevail,” she said.
Democratic Coalition leader Ferenc Gyurcsány said it was “the shame of [Prime Minister Viktor] Orbán’s regime” that the demands of the revolutionaries of 1956 were “still valid today”. He noted that the people had demanded a new national assembly, a fair right to strike along with a freedom of the press and expression. They also wanted to be free of Soviet Russian influence and belong to Europe, he added. Socialist Party co-leader Bertalan Tóth called Oct. 23 the symbol of workers’ councils and self-determination. Hungary is in the process of becoming a feudal society, he said, arguing that working people were vulnerable and deprived of their rights. Tóth said the revolutionaries of 1956 had also demanded that workers be treated with dignity and as autonomous actors. “This is what they were fighting for then and this is what we have to fight for today.” Ágnes Kunhalmi, the party’s other co-leader, said history had taught Hungarians that together they were strong enough to reclaim their dignity and freedom. András Fekete-Győr of the Momentum Movement said that like in 1956, Hungarians today did not want “Eastern-style oppression”. “Those in power today are flirting with countries like Putin’s Russia when in 1956 few things were as clear as the fact that Hungary belongs in a Western civic democracy,” he said.