A national holiday in Hungary has come to an end in an atmosphere of national discord. As night fell in Budapest minor scuffles broke out, with small neo-nazi groups the most vociferous of thousands of anti-government protestors. Heavy security measures though prevented the violent demonstrations seen in recent years that many had feared.

The holiday commemorates the failed Hungarian revolt of 1848 against the Habsburg empire.

The leader of the main opposition party, Viktor Orban, seized the chance to compare the current government to the one supported by the Habsburgs 160 years ago. Then the Hungarian people wanted independence.

Now, the problems are mainly economic. An EU member since 2004, Hungary has the bloc’s slowest rate of economic growth and its highest budget deficit. Last week the socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany lost a referendum over planned reforms. He had hoped to introduce fees in hospitals and universities.

Recent surveys put Gyurcsany’s approval ratings at just 19 percent. Investors have praised him for improving the budget deficit but the public, hit by tax rises and spending cuts, seems to be running out of patience.