|Author (Corporate)||Cardiff EDC|
Reports and analyses on the emergency measures introduced by Hungary's government and later approved by the Parliament, aimed at addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Hungarian government put forward on 20 March 2020 a draft law named 'Bill on Protection Against Coronavirus', containing a set of emergency measures that would allow the cabinet to rule by decree during the sanitary crisis. Parliamentary functions, elections and referendums would be suspended for the duration of the state of emergency. It would also introduce offences for obstructing the measures to affect the pandemic and for the spreading of misinformation. The draft law does not include a time-limit for the state of emergency, which would be decided by the cabinet.
Members of the Opposition stated that, while supporting the government's effort to manage the crisis, they wished for a time limit to the emergency powers requested in the draft law, subject to extension by the Parliament. The proposed amendments were all rejected by the chamber, whee the governing Fidesz party enjoys a two-thirds majority. The draft law was approved on 30 March 2020.
The package of measures alarmed international stakeholders and observers, fearing the handing over of unlimited powers to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Some acknowledged that the country eventually moved from an 'illiberal state' to a full-blown dictatorship.
The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen reminded Member States on 31 March that emergency measures introduced in the framework of the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak should not last indefinitely. Ms von der Leyen also called for respect of freedom of expression, reminding that 'democracy cannot work without free and independent media'.
The plenary session of the European Parliament (EP) held a debate on the restrictive measures introduced in the country on 14 May. Concerns over the impact of the pandemic on rule of law and democracy had already been raised in a EP Resolution adopted in April 2020.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations|
|Subject Tags||National Politics|
|Countries / Regions||Hungary|