Hungary's Parliament grants PM Viktor Orban ability to rule by decree

Cheryl Sanders
April 3, 2020

I greet with respect the free choice of the Hungarian parliament (137 votes in favour and 53 against), democratically elected by the citizens.

The Scandinavian, Greek, Belgian, Lithuanian Czech and Slovak conservatives who signed Thursday's statement calling for Fidesz to be kicked out of the EPP do not represent a majority of the group.

Opposition parties have criticised the move as unnecessary, fearing it would give a blank cheque to government rule.

Hungary declared a state of emergency on March 11, due to the spread of coronavirus.

"If we're asking the whole country to stay home, then the Hungarian parliament should be able to do the same if the virus situation justifies it", said independent lawmaker Bernadett Szel.

The legislation extending a state of emergency has triggered criticism from opposition parties, human rights groups and the Council of Europe, as it contains no timeframe, Reuters reports.

"It is concerning how those future decrees will effect civil rights, and in that regard the government has a very worrying track record", she told EUobserver.

"It's of utmost importance that emergency measures are not at the expense of our fundamental principles and values".

"It is now particularly important now that institutions, especially the European Commission, monitors the enforcement of European law, and that abuse of power leads to consequences", Pardavi added. "They must not last indefinitely. governments must make sure that such measures are subject to regular scrutiny".

Opposition parties and global institutions have criticized the legislation for failing to include an expiration date on the government's ability to rule by decree.

Their newest target? Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Hungary's justice minister, Judit Varga, told reporters on Friday that critics of the bill were "fighting imaginary demons and not dealing with reality", AFP reported. Orban and his centre-right Fidesz party have always been involved in a systematic dismantling of institutional checks and balances, seperations of powers, the rule of law, an independent judiciary, and media freedom.

The opposition parties say they are united in the fight against COVID-19, but say none of the governments in the European Union has asked for and received limitless powers.

Other reports by iNewsToday