Orbán: State of emergency in Hungary could end this month

D KOS20200515001
2020.05.15. 14:35

At the press conference following his meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić in Belgrade, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán responded to a question concerning the severe international criticism against the special legal order introduced in Hungary over coronavirus, Orbán responded that this was the key to the success of the Hungarian response to the pandemic, adding that

he thinks the government could possibly give the special powers back before the end of the month.

Orbán said that everybody who ever doubted that the government would use its special authorisation in good faith "will get a chance to apologise."

Viktor Orbán made this announcement in Belgrade after having refused to participate in the debate in the European Parliament on the same topic the day before where MEPs called for the EU to bring sanctions against Hungary and stop payments. In his reply to EP President David Sassoli, Orbán wrote that combating the coronavirus "takes up all of his energy," and for this reason, he attempted to send Minister of Justice Judit Varga, but the EP declined.

The government declared a state of emergency over coronavirus on 11 March granting the government a number of emergency powers. These powers were significantly broadened at the end of March with the passing of the Coronavirus Act. Previously, the government's emergency decrees expired in 15 days unless Parliament extended them, but the new law allowed the government to extend these indefinitely.

The law attracted significant international criticism, Secretary-General of the Council of Europe Marija Pejčinović Burić warned that "an indefinite and uncontrolled state of emergency cannot guarantee that the basic principles of democracy will be observed," and the OSCE and the European Parliament's LIBE committee have also voiced similar worries, and in April, an EP resolution deemed the government's decision "totally incompatible with European values," and many voices in the European People's Party are once again pushing for expelling the Hungarian governing party from their ranks.

The Hungarian government mostly dismissed these remarks by calling them fake news and being baffled at foreign politicians having the time in the middle of a pandemic to find faults in Hungarian legislation.

You can find our detailed explanation of the law and its constitutional impact here.

(Cover: Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (r) welcomes Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in his office in Belgrade on 15 May 2020. Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák / MTI)

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