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7 - Outcomes: Government Responsiveness

from Part II - Varieties of Contention

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 November 2021

Abel Bojar
Affiliation:
European University Institute, Florence
Theresa Gessler
Affiliation:
University of Zurich
Swen Hutter
Affiliation:
Freie Universität Berlin
Hanspeter Kriesi
Affiliation:
European University Institute, Florence
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Summary

Shortly after his reelection in 2014, Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán proposed a new bill that would charge private internet users and enterprises alike for each gigabyte of data usage. Trusting that he enjoyed broad support among the Hungarian public, he may have not expected that this proposal would unleash a massive wave of protests across the country. Starting to organize their collective action in social media outlets on the very day of the government proposal, the protesters quickly spread in masses on to Hungarian streets, sparking broad international media coverage, and even attracting the support of an EU commissioner. While the ruling Fidesz party initially tried to tame the protesters by slightly modifying the proposal in response to the vivid and vocal opposition all across the country, the various challenger actors kept protesting relentlessly against the introduction of the so-called internet tax. Only ten days after having proposed the bill, Prime Minister Orban, in a widely transmitted radio interview, decided to back off. The government proposal was withdrawn, and the internet tax never became part of Hungarian legislation. In a very short period of time and in a country where a political tradition of mass mobilization is largely absent, the Hungarian citizens managed to be heard. The government took their demands seriously and fully responded to their opposition.

Type
Chapter
Information
Contentious Episodes in the Age of Austerity
Studying the Dynamics of Government–Challenger Interactions
, pp. 132 - 144
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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