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Hungary declares new state of emergency

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-05-26 09:23

A screen grab from a video shows Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban giving a speech about Hungary's government assuming emergency powers, in Budapest, Hungary, May 24, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

Conflict, energy concerns, and fast-rising inflation all blamed by PM for latest move

Hungary's prime minister has declared a new state of emergency, which means his ruling Fidesz party can continue to govern with little oversight.

Viktor Orban declared the state of emergency on Tuesday and it started on Wednesday.

The move was criticized by opposition parties and follows Orban having previously run the country under two earlier states of emergency; one declared because of migration, and another, which was due to end on June 1, triggered by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Orban attributed the latest state of emergency to the situation in neighboring Ukraine and the resulting economic crisis.

"We see the (Russia-Ukraine conflict) and the sanctions from Brussels have led to a huge economic upheaval and drastic inflation," he said in a video message posted online. "The world faces an economic crisis. Hungary must stay out of this …we need maneuvering room and freedom to act."

Orban described the situation in Ukraine as "a constant threat to Hungary" that was "putting our physical security at risk".

He said that state of emergency would ensure the government can "respond immediately" to "protect Hungary and Hungarian families by any means possible".

The nation has opposed sanctions against Moscow over claims they would destabilize Europe. Orban, who has led Hungary for 12 years, had also refused to support the European Union's planned embargo of Russian oil, saying his country's dependence on it made a boycott impossible.

The Financial Times quoted Emese Pasztor, director of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union's Political Freedoms Project, as saying Hungary has become less democratic.

"The government adjusts the rules to its wishes once again," she said. "The new becomes the norm, which endangers our fundamental rights as it further dilutes the legislative powers of Parliament."

But in reality, the move will have little impact on decisions because Orban won a massive majority in elections on April 3 and already had full control of Parliament.

The Evening Standard newspaper said Hungary was able to declare a state of emergency because of events beyond its border thanks to a constitutional amendment that now allows dire nearby situations to be able to trigger such a move.

In addition to allowing the ruling party to bypass parliamentary processes, the state of emergency will let the government temporarily suspend laws and deviate from following them.

Orban, who is now the longest-serving leader among EU member nations, has been at loggerheads with the rest of the bloc on several issues in recent years.

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