Hungarians rally against PM Orban's reforms

STORY: Nationalist Orban is facing his toughest challenge yet since taking power in a 2010 landslide, with inflation at its highest in two decades, the forint plunging to record lows and European Union funds in limbo amid a dispute over democratic standards.

Small-town mayor Peter Marki-Zay, whose opposition alliance suffered a crushing defeat in an April parliamentary election, addressed the rally saying Orban's campaign promises had turned out to be lies.

Ildiko Hende, 52, who works as a cleaner in a bank, said she was feeling the pressure from rising costs.

"I just want to be able to live a normal life, not having to pinch pennies at the end of every month," she said.

The blockade of a bridge in Budapest on Tuesday failed to derail the approval of a government motion to increase the tax rate for hundreds of thousands of small firms, defying criticism from some business groups and opposition parties.

On Wednesday, Orban's government also curtailed a cap on utility prices for higher-usage households due to a surge in electricity and gas prices amid the war in Ukraine.

Despite Orban capping the prices of fuel and some basic foods, inflation has surged to its highest in two decades, at 11.7% year-on-year in June.

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