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Hungary puts an end to the virus emergency

June 18th, 2020

A pro-government pundit ridicules opposition parties which, he suggests, must now admit that their accusations of a ‘perennial dictatorship’ were unfounded. A Socialist lawyer thinks that the new regulations give more power to the government and to employers, whilst leaving the ordinary citizen with less influence or protection than before.

Parliament unanimously voted on Tuesday to end the ‘state of danger’ under which the government could rule by decree over issues connected with the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile new legislation was introduced to meet possible future pandemics whereby the Chief Medical Officer can declare an emergency under which the government can restrict citizens’ movements but cannot order a general lockdown.

In Magyar Nemzet, Zsolt Bayer writes that opposition MPs have made fools of themselves by accusing the government for months of instituting a dictatorship. Now that the special powers bestowed on the government have been revoked, he writes, their ‘fearmongering’, along with the ‘power grab’ accusations of mainstream western media outlets have been exposed as pure fantasy. On top of it all, opposition MPs had no choice but to vote in favour of the resolution on revoking the special powers, exposing themselves to public ridicule.

In Népszava, lawyer Péter Bárándy criticises the new law passed along with the one ending the emergency, which keeps some of the provisions taken over the past two months in force.  One example the former Socialist Minister of Justice mentions is the increase of the overtime banking period from one to two years. (An attempt to raise it to three years failed after widespread protests in 2019. See BudaPost, January 8, 2019.) He is also concerned about the new rule which will enable the government to restrict the right of assembly in case of a new pandemic. All in all, Bárándy tells Népszava, “the government has gained strength at the expense of the citizen, while employers have won yet more powers at the expense of the workforce”.

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