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Corona in Hungary: path to dictatorship? First arrests due to new questionable laws


The corona virus pandemic currently affects Hungary relatively little. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Orban has now implemented a controversial emergency law. 

The corona virus pandemic currently affects Hungary relatively little. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Orban has now implemented a controversial emergency law. 

  • The Corona crisis also affects Hungary, if not so badly
  • However, Prime Minister Viktor Orban now wants to issue a questionable draft law
  • The Hungarian parliament now voted for the comprehensive power of attorney

Update of May 13: In Hungary , the police arrested several people on charges of spreading “misinformation” on the Internet about the corona virus and how the government dealt with the pandemic. Three victims reported on Wednesday that they had been taken away by the police at home and interviewed for hours. 

The arrests were made on the basis of a law passed at the end of March that penalties for “misinformation” that could “undermine” government measures.

The Hungarian police in turn distributed video footage of one of the arrests. At the same time, it stated that it was investigating a total of 86 cases based on the new law. The opposition sees the law and police action as another attempt by Viktor Orban's government to "silence" critics. Independent MP Akos Hadhazy spoke of an "operation of intimidation" on Wednesday.

Corona in Hungary: path to dictatorship? Von der Leyen threatens Orban: "I'm ready to act"

Update of April 12, 2020, 10:46 am: EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has threatened Hungary with an infringement procedure because of its controversial emergency law. "I am ready to act if the restrictions exceed the permitted level," said von der Leyen of the newspaper "Bild am Sonntag". "Then there is a risk of infringement proceedings."

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had been granted full powers by the Hungarian Parliament to combat the coronavirus crisis. The right-wing populist can now rule by decree and prolong the state of emergency because of the pandemic without the consent of Parliament.


Leader of the European People's Party in the European Parliament

© dpa / Szilard Koszticsak

In principle, it is okay if EU member states respond to the crisis with emergency measures, said von der Leyen. "But: The measures must be proportionate, limited in time, democratically controlled." The Commission is observing this in all countries, "but in Hungary we are particularly careful because of past critical experience".

Corona in Hungary: Orban heavily criticized - is Weber also coming under pressure?

Update April 9, 20:50:  The force since barely two weeks starting restrictions are in Hungary due to the Corona pandemic extended indefinitely. The government will check the maintenance of the restrictions weekly, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on his Facebook page on Thursday. Without the extension, the provisions would only have applied until Saturday.

Accordingly, people are only allowed to leave their homes if they have a valid reason, such as shopping or taking care of relatives. Visits from relatives and friends are not included. Walks and outdoor sports are permitted provided that people keep a safe distance of one and a half meters from each other.

Before Easter, the mayors of places that are popular excursion destinations expressed concern that their communities could be overrun by day trippers. Some of them blocked parking lots, town centers and riverside promenades on the Danube or Lake Balaton to stop the looming crowds. So far it was not clear whether they were authorized to do so in all cases. However, as Orban stated on Thursday, the mayors are now being given the authority to take such measures during the Easter holidays .

As of Thursday, 980 people in Hungary were shown to be infected with the Sars-CoV-2 virus, which can trigger the lung disease Covid-19 . The number of deaths was given as 66, that of those recovered as 96.

Corona in Hungary: Orban heavily criticized - is Weber also coming under pressure?

Update April 8, 15:48: The result of the corona crisis adopted emergency law of Prime Minister Viktor Orban makes in Hungary almost more turmoil than the pandemic itself And given the Covid-19 case numbers in Hungary that is not all that surprising.. For example, Johns Hopkins University currently registers 895 corona infections and 58 deaths from Covid 19 disease (as of 3:48 p.m.). In addition, 94 infected people have recovered

Coronavirus: Hungary seems to have been affected relatively little so far

In view of these numbers, the question arises whether the virus is really so little spread there or whether the low number of cases is due to the fact that little testing is done. On the other hand, it is quite surprising that Prime Minister Orban enacts such a far-reaching emergency law , even though his country appears to be relatively unaffected by the pandemic . Already yesterday, allegations were made against the Prime Minister that he would use the pandemic to restrict civil liberties. 

Update of April 7, 4:48 pm: The Fidesz party of the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is under pressure in the European Parliament's own parliamentary group because of the recent emergency law. In a letter to EPP Group leader Manfred Weber , which is available to the German Press Agency in Brussels, 13 national delegations are calling for at least the suspension of Fidesz membership. The German delegation from the CDU and CSU did not sign the letter.

Corona virus in Hungary: The EPP had suspended the Fidesz party a year ago

The Christian Democratic European People's Party had already suspended the Fidesz party a year ago due to several attacks on the then EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and alleged violations of basic EU values. However, the parliamentary group did not concern this. The Fidesz MPs continued to work there.

In their letter, the 13 national delegations now call for at least “mirroring” the decision of their own party. They are deeply concerned about developments in Hungary , particularly the law that was passed last week (see below).

"It is cynical to use a pandemic to curtail civil liberties and promote an illiberal political agenda while the EU is being scapegoated for domestic purposes," the Tuesday letter said. It is signed by heads of delegations from Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Portugal, Poland, Malta, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Netherlands and Estonia.

EU agency analyzes Orban's Emergency Act - special powers over Coronavirus in Hungary

Update of April 7, 3:00 p.m .: To cope with the corona pandemic , the right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had been granted extensive powers of attorney by Parliament . Now he can govern by ordinance without a time limit and possibly without parliamentary control. 

The emergency law received criticism at home and abroad . It also stipulates that the spread of false news is severely punished, so journalists fear critical reporting. "All of Europe is looking at what is happening in Hungary," warned EU Commissioner Vera Jourova in an interview with the German Press Agency in Brussels. At the same time, the Czech Vice President of the EU Commission expressed her concerns about the Emergency Law


Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban received a lot of criticism for his emergency law.

© dpa / Tamas Kovacs

According to Jourova, it was particularly problematic that there was no end to the emergency. She also considers the criminalization of disinformation, which could include criticism of the government, to be very worrying. The EU authority is currently analyzing the law and will closely monitor its application. 

Corona virus in Hungary: EPP boss thinks of Fidesz exclusion - Union does not follow

April 2 update:  Germany and 13 other countries have issued a  joint statement  on  Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's corona emergency measures  , which could violate the rule of law , democracy and core values . "We have to overcome this crisis together and in this way we must uphold our European principles and values," they said.

While it was "legitimate" for Member States to "take unusual measures to protect their citizens and deal with the crisis," said 14 of the 27 EU countries, the statement said . However, the signatory states warned of dangers that could arise from certain emergency measures for "the principles of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights".

The EPP President Donald Tusk wants to revive the process of exclusion of the Fidesz party of the EPP. Thirteen member parties wrote a letter to Tusk on Thursday calling for Fidesz to be excluded. However, the CDU and CSU were not among them, as were other large national parties with over 80 member parties.

From diplomatic circles in Brussels it was said that the developments in Hungary were being observed and could not be grasped. It is all the more important to link the disbursement of EU funds to the rule of law . The government in Budapest ignored the criticism. Hungary fully agrees with the declaration of the EU countries, the Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga told the state news agency MTI.

In the long dispute over the distribution of asylum seekers , Hungary , Poland and the Czech Republic have suffered a severe defeat at the European Court of Justice . The three Central European countries were unable to refuse to accept Italy and Greece from asylum seekers during the refugee crisis following a judgment on Thursday . "The saying has no further consequences," said Varga.

Coronavirus brings emergency powers to Orban - government surprises with sudden U-turn

Update from April 1, 5:45 p.m .:  Sudden change in Hungary. As the German Press Agency reports, the Hungarian government around Prime Minister Viktor Orban has refrained from cutting the powers of mayors across the country with a new law. The corresponding bill by Orban's deputy Zsolt Semjen sparked great indignation among the local politicians concerned. 

On Wednesday, Chancellor Minister Gergely Gulyas announced that the controversial passage would be deleted from the draft law . "After the government strives to achieve the greatest possible cohesion across party lines in an emergency, it refrains from this amendment," said Gulyas, according to news agency MTI. The Gulyas declaration did not refer to other passages of the law.

Corona virus in Hungary: Mayors' competencies should be curtailed 

Update from April 1st, 4:00 pm:  After Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban  and his government have been granted comprehensive powers under the Emergency Act, the competencies of the mayors are to be limited in the middle of the Corona crisis *

To deal with the Corona crisis *, Orban's government had previously received extraordinary powers from Parliament. Zsolt Semjen , Orban's deputy, introduced a bill to parliament on Wednesday night that deprives mayors of decision-making powers in times of emergency. The competencies are transferred to the so-called protection commissions, whose members appoint the government.

Empowered Orban Seeks to Strip Mayors of Autonomy in Virus Fight

- Hynek Pallas (@hynekpallas) April 1, 2020

Like many other countries, an emergency was declared in Hungary on March 11 due to the spread of the coronavirus * . In the last local elections in October, many major cities, including the capital Budapest, gave their majority to the opposition. The new law now requires the elected mayors to present their measures against the pandemic to a territorial protection commission. The latter then decides on how to proceed within five days.

Coronavirus in Hungary: Draft law to ban gender change

There are further innovations in the submitted draft law . Citizens should therefore in future be prohibited from changing the gender registered at birth. Six universities are also said to lose their self-government. In future, they will be placed under foundations, the committees of which are appointed by the government.

The emergency law passed on Monday enables Orban to rule by law for an unlimited period and without parliamentary control . However, the newly introduced legislative proposal should go the usual parliamentary way. Orban's right-wing governing party, Fidesz, has a two-thirds majority in parliament. This is necessary to change constitutional laws.

Hungarian Prime Minister Orban authorized indefinitely for coronavirus

March 30 update: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been granted full powers by his country's parliament to fight the corona pandemic and deal with its consequences. 

The Budapest People's Representative , with the votes of the government majority, approved a controversial emergency law on Monday, which enables the right-wing national head of government to govern on the ordinance without a time limit. The opposition MPs voted against and no one abstained.

New emergency decree in Hungary: Is Orban trying to force a dictatorship in the Corona crisis?

First report from March 21: Munich - The Corona crisis is not only a major challenge for Europe. Far-reaching precautions and fundamental changes are taking place around the world. So also in Hungary. There, however, the changes in the law could have even more serious consequences.

With reference to the coronavirus pandemic , Prime Minister Viktor Orban calls for authorization to govern by decree in the event of an emergency of possibly unlimited duration

Corona crisis / Hungary: new emergency decree - is Viktor Orban trying to force a dictatorship?

The draft law submitted by Orban to parliament was already published on Friday evening on the website of the People's Representation. It provides that the government can extend the state of emergency on March 11 due to the pandemic indefinitely without Parliament's approval.


The corona pandemic is still relatively low in Hungary. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Viktor Orban is now presenting a more than questionable draft law. 

© dpa / Virginia Mayo

The government is thus to be given the right to "suspend the application of certain laws by decree ", to fail to comply with fixed requirements and "to introduce other extraordinary measures to guarantee the stability of life , health, personal and material security for citizens and the economy “As the draft law states.

Orban's critics are probably not wrong to fear that the law would change the structure of power in Hungary in favor of the government and to the disadvantage of Parliament. In addition, a clause in the draft that provides for the possibility of a “forced parliamentary break” is of concern.

Does Orban want to use the corona virus in Hungary in his favor?

The government made no statement on the proposed law . The draft could be presented to Parliament in Budapest next week. A two-thirds majority is required to pass the law.

Viktor Orban uses the corona crisis to lead Hungary into the dictatorship. And the EU? No comment?

- Bernhard Odehnal (@BernhardOdehnal) March 21, 2020

It also provides for changes to criminal law , which could result in long prison terms for violations of the corona quarantine measures. There are also plans to introduce prison sentences of up to five years for the distribution of “fake news” about the novel corona virus and the measures taken to contain it.

Hungary has reported 103 coronavirus infections and four deaths . The EU country has closed its land borders as well as its schools and other public institutions due to the pandemic.

Compared to Italy or Spain, this is a very small number of infected people. For example, 793 people died in Italy as a result of coronavirus on Saturday. Extensive political measures are also being considered in Germany. Meanwhile, crazy rumors of an alleged invasion of US troops on German soil are spreading, especially on social networks. 

List of rubric lists: © AFP / ATTILA KISBENEDEK

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2020-05-13

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