Hungarian parliament grants full powers to Viktor Orban against coronavirus

Hungarian Prime Minister Vikor Orban. ALBERTO PIZZOLI / AFP

Text by: RFI Follow

The Hungarian Prime Minister obtained the green light from parliamentarians on Monday 30 March to legislate by ordinances in the framework of an indefinite state of emergency. The opposition considers this decision taken to fight against the new coronavirus "disproportionate".


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The law was adopted by 137 votes for while 53 deputies voted against. It was signed, in the process, by the President of the Republic and will enter into force tomorrow, Tuesday, reports our correspondent in Budapest, Florence La Bruyere .

In addition to allowing the Prime Minister to legislate by ordinances, this law also establishes up to five years in prison for spreading " false news " about the virus or government measures, while the country's few independent media regularly do subject to such charges.

These new provisions also allow the Hungarian leader to extend the state of emergency in force since March 11 indefinitely, without asking for Parliament's approval.

A " coup " for the opposition

" We must do everything in our power to stop the spread of the virus. The bill fits perfectly into the Hungarian constitutional framework , "defended Justice Minister Judit Varga last week.

The policy deployed by Viktor Orban in a decade of power makes the opposition fear that the 56-year-old leader will abuse these exceptional means. In Hungary, but also abroad, this text is seen by its detractors as an instrument intended to cement the control of the national-conservative government, taking the pandemic as a pretext .

According to many independent organizations, since 2010, the government has already increased attacks on the rule of law in the fields of justice, civil society and freedom of the press.

Parliamentarians who oppose the text did not hesitate to speak of a " coup ", of " heading towards dictatorship ". Opponents of the reform urged the government to limit the state of emergency to a fixed term, as is the case in the other countries of the European Union. For independent deputy Akos Hadhazy, this law is also " a trap for the opposition " accused by the government of being " on the side of the virus ".

Council of Europe warns Viktor Orban

In recent days, a petition that has collected 100,000 signatures so far, denounced and warned about " full powers " that could be granted to the Prime Minister.

The Council of Europe and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations also questioned these last days. It is not Hungary's first showdown with the European institutions or civil society. For the past year, Vikor Orban's party has also been officially suspended from the European right, but Fidesz is still a member with the French of LR or the Germans of the CDU.

A government spokesman, Zoltan Kovacs, stressed on Monday that the bill is time-limited by the powers of dismissal from parliament and by the pandemic itself, which “ will hopefully end one day the, ”he wrote on Twitter.

The Council of Europe has warned that " an indefinite and uncontrolled state of emergency cannot [ guarantee ] respect for the fundamental principles of democracy ".

Aliens on the dock

At the start of the epidemic, Viktor Orban pointed to the role of immigration in the spread of the virus. "It was mainly foreigners who introduced the disease, " he said.

Hungary, which closed its borders to foreigners and instituted population containment measures, counted on Monday 447 cases of new coronavirus, which killed 15 people in this country of 9.7 million inhabitants.

(With AFP)

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  • Coronavirus
  • Health and Medicine
  • Hungary

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