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Apr 02, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

Hungary's coronavirus protection law: Misinformation, falsehoods and lies

No, it doesn’t suspend Parliament. What they’ve been telling you about the new Coronavirus Protection Act is simply not true.

On Monday, the Hungarian National Assembly passed the Coronavirus Protection Act with a two-thirds majority. The new law extends the state of emergency, or state of danger as we call it, and empowers the government to take additional extraordinary measures to protect the population against the spread of the coronavirus.

Contrary to what the international media would have you believe, no, the bill does not grant Prime Minister Orbán and his government “unlimited power.” In fact, these extraordinary powers can only be exercised to prevent, treat, eradicate and remedy the harmful effects of the coronavirus epidemic, plus they will last only as long as the threat is present. I could go on, but I’ve already dealt with these false accusations in detail in an earlier blog post.

Since Monday, however, members of Hungarian opposition parties have come up with a claim that is not only slanted and not based on facts (sadly, we have grown accustomed to such statements by now), but an outright lie. The extraordinary rights introduced by the new law, they say, are being used for normal, day-to-day legislation.

That, dear reader, is nothing more than a monstrous deceit, one that falls far below even the Hungarian opposition’s already low standards.

Let me repeat: Despite the state of emergency and the adoption of a law enabling the government to undertake emergency measures if necessary, the Hungarian Parliament remains in session as usual. There is nothing in the new legislation that would affect the general functioning of Parliament. This means that new laws are being proposed, debated, refused and accepted every time the National Assembly is in session.

The adoption of the coronavirus act on Monday doesn’t imply that the Orbán Government will now attempt to bypass voting procedures or make “authoritarian” steps to silence critics. Simply think about it this way: The governing parties have a two-thirds majority in Hungary’s democratically elected Parliament – a mandate given to them by the Hungarian voters. So, why would the government want to dissolve parliament?

Photo credit: grapevine