Viktor Orbán wants to rule by decree

The Hungarian government presented a draft law on Friday that, if passed, would enable it to rule by decree for an unlimited period. Budapest would be able to extend the state of emergency declared on 11 March over the Covid-19 pandemic without parliament's approval. Currently the state of emergency is revised by parliament every 15 days. What motives are behind the initiative?

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Der Standard (AT) /

Dictatorship via state of emergency

Orbán is using the crisis as an excuse to further expand and secure his power in the long term, writes Der Standard:

“The indefinite period: this is what separates limited emergency measures in the crisis from an authoritarian grasp for power. And it also makes the latter recognisable for what it is. Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, for example, now wants to extend the state of emergency in his country for a potentially indefinite period: the government could extend it by decree over and over again - and also pass laws de facto or deliberately violate them 'should there be a forced recess in parliament'. The same law provides for up to five years' imprisonment for spreading 'fake news' about government measures, and eight years for breaching quarantine regulations. It's not difficult to see how such a law could lead to a dictatorship that extends beyond the current health crisis.”

Magyar Hang (HU) /

A compromise would be easy to achieve

National unity cannot be enforced by decree, the weekly Magyar Hang points out:

“Provided there is goodwill on both sides, the positions [of the government and the opposition] are easy to reconcile. The state of emergency could be limited in time and the current 15-day period could be extended somewhat. In the event that Parliament becomes incapable of taking decisions because of the pandemic, a special regulation could be adopted. ... If the ruling Fidesz party really wants national unity and has no ulterior motives, it should sit down with the opposition and reach an agreement at the negotiating table. It's that simple. Special times require special solutions.”