Fears of clashes darken Hungary's national holiday
(dpa) - Hungarian police were preparing for potential problems with right-wing demonstrators Saturday as commemorations of the 1848 revolution against the Austrian Habsburgs were set to get underway.
Police said that they were concerned about events being organized by several right-wing groups and also a major rally called by centre-right opposition party Fidesz.
Fidesz said it expected hundreds of thousands at its rally in downtown Budapest, which it is holding separately from official commemorations.
Last year's events were marred when police clashed with around 1,000 protestors demanding the release of a right-wing leader who had been arrested for his involvement in previous riots.
Trouble first broke out in Hungary in September 2006 following the leak of a tape on which Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany admitted lying about the state of the economy.
Rioting continued sporadically during the following month, and a Fidesz rally on October 23, marking the 50th anniversary of Hungary's failed 1956 uprising against Soviet rule, ended in chaos as violent protestors and riot police mixed in with people leaving the event.
Hundreds were injured and arrested during the weeks of trouble.
This year, tensions have been raised by a referendum, held last Sunday, in which Hungarians overwhelmingly voted to cancel fees for medical treatment and higher education.
Fidesz had billed the referendum as a judgement on an unpopular government and its economic reforms, but has refrained from repeating calls for the government to resign.
However, right-wing groups that were involved in the original clashes are expected to use the referendum result to call for Gyurcsany to go and potentially renew street violence.
Gyurcsany's admission he lied, coupled with austerity measures aimed at cutting the budget deficit and eventually allowing Hungary to adopt the euro, have severely dented the government's popularity.
Polls have shown that the government would only receive 15 to 20 per cent of the vote if general elections were held now