Lawmakers vote to end Hungarian president’s emergency power

Lawmakers vote to end Hungarian president’s emergency power

Members of parliament unanimously requested the government lift the state of emergency and Mr. Orban's powers to rule by decree. The lawmakers have voted in favor of repealing extraordinary powers granted to Prime Minister Viktor Orban to fight the coronavirus.

The government is expected to revoke the measures by the end of the week. But opposition groups fear Mr. Orban's administration has greatly expanded its powers amid the outbreak. NGOs critical of Hungary's leader issued a joint statement saying the vote to remove powers was an "optical illusion" and that the authorities retained greater powers than before the crisis.

According to Democracy watchdog the Karoly Eotvos Institute, it believes the legislation does not end the measures but instead "creates a legal basis for the use of newer extraordinary and unlimited government powers", as stated by New York Times

The Hungarian President, however, says these powers enabled him to tackle the outbreak quickly and effectively. Lockdown restrictions have been largely lifted in the country of 10 million people. According to Johns Hopkins University, Hungary has confirmed 4,077 cases and 565 deaths.

On Tuesday, lawmakers voted by 190 in favor to end the state of emergency to Mr. Orban's extraordinary powers. The original coronavirus protection act approved on 30 March did not set a deadline for the measures, and opponents feared it was an attempt by the prime minister to extend his control over the country.

But while MPs have now asked to end the measures, they also approved a bill allowing the government to impose another state of emergency in the event of another medical emergency.

Mr. Orban, a nationalist and conservative, and his ruling Fidesz party, which holds an outright majority in parliament, are accused of wielding power in increasingly authoritarian ways. The EU leaders have repeatedly raised concerns about Mr. Orban's government, with a group of thirteen (13) member state expressing “deep concern” over the extraordinary powers in March, saying they could threaten "democracy and fundamental rights".

Extraordinary powers given to one man

On March 20, The Hungarian Parliament voted by 137 to 53 to accept the government's request for the power to rule by decree during the coronavirus emergency. The law contains no time limit.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban promised to use the extraordinary powers he has been granted "proportionately and rationally”. In spite of his promises more than 100,000 people signed a petition against the move.

According to a survey by the pro-government polling agency Nezopont, 90% of the public wanted the current emergency measures extended and 72% agree that the criminal code should be strengthened.

But opposition parties and human rights groups accuse the government of including several extreme measures in the law, which they argue no opposition party in any democracy could ever agree to, as the special powers have no time limit and critics say independent journalists could face jail.

 

Source: BBC