Hungary approves extra government powers, with no end date

BUDAPEST, Hungary – The Hungarian Parliament passed a bill on Monday that gives Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government extraordinary powers during the coronavirus pandemic without an end date for their expiry.

The bill was approved by Orban’s Fidesz party and other government supporters with 137 votes to 53. It took 133 votes to pass.

Opposition parties, international institutions and citizen groups criticized that they had not given an expiry date for government ability by decree.

It also includes measures against false information that raise concerns that it may be used by the government to silence independent media.

“The extraordinary measures relate to the pandemic, its prevention, its elimination and the harmful economic consequences,” said Csaba Domotor, Deputy Minister in the Orban cabinet. “In this situation, there is no time limit because there is no one who can tell how many months of struggle we have to prepare for.”

Opposition lawmakers agreed to give the government the required powers, but only if they were set for a period of time with the possibility of an extension.

“The opposition agrees on giving the government powers far more extensive than the authority in the constitution,” said Tamas Harangozo, a lawmaker for the opposition Socialist Party. “The opposition demands that” the government accepts this can only do so within time limits. “

The Head of Human Rights at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe also expressed concerns about the new legislation.

“It is clear that states must act quickly to protect their populations from the COVID-19 pandemic, and I understand that exceptional measures may be required,” said Ingibjorg Gisladottir, director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human rights.

“However, a state of emergency – wherever it is declared and for whatever reason – must be proportionate to its purpose and only last as long as is absolutely necessary.”

Hungary declared a state of emergency on March 11 due to the spread of the corona virus, which has so far infected 447 people in Hungary with 15 deaths.

Leave a Comment