In recent weeks, Hungary has again made international headlines. This time, it was a popular movement born out of resistance to the latest rewriting of the labor code—which the ruling Fidesz party had already modified in 2011 to the benefit of employers—that made the news. On 12 December, amid chaotic scenes in the National Assembly (where opposition MPs sought to obstruct the voting procedure), Fidesz passed a law that raises the maximum amount of overtime employees can work from 250 to 400 hours a year, and gives employers the freedom to delay payment for overtime work by up to three years. A similar amendment had already been proposed last year but was quickly withdrawn after the government realized the unpopular measure could dent Fidesz’s popularity in the run-up to this spring’s parliamentary election. Off-the-cuff comments made by Fidesz representatives have revealed that the law was reintroduced to satisfy German carmakers who are facing an increasingly acute labor shortage in a low-wage economy that a sizeable segment of the labor force has left behind to take up better-paid work in Austria, Germany, and other Western European countries.
Much has been written about the gilets jaunes and their relation to both politics, of the left and the right, and historical waves of labor unrest. In this article, Joshua Clover argues that the gilets jaunes are in fact a texbook example of a contemporary riot and may be best seen as an early example of an approaching wave of climate riots.
“Polish leaders marched with the far right” was perhaps the most common description of the massive demonstration that took place in Warsaw on National Independence Day, 11 November. Press worldwide expressed astonishment and indignation over the fact that the Polish president, accompanied by politicians from the right-wing populist Law and Justice (PiS) party, decided to partake in a highly controversial, and explicitly nationalist, event.