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Government calls national consultation on lockdown schedule

February 8th, 2021

A left-wing commentator dismisses as a publicity stunt the Prime Minister’s announcement of a national consultation on how and when to lift the emergency restrictions. A conservative pundit lambasts the EU for failing to secure more jabs for the citizens of the European Union.

On Friday 5 February PM Orbán announced that the government will launch a ’national consultation’ and ask Hungarians about their preferred schedule to lift the coronavirus emergency lockdown. One of the questions will be whether Hungarians agree with the introduction of a ’vaccine passport’ that would allow already vaccinated individuals to travel.

Népszava’s Róbert Friss sees the national consultation as another propaganda stunt. The left-wing commentator believes that deciding about the lockdown and the schedule of lifting the restrictions is the responsibility of the government, and ‘not the uncertain people who have no clue’. He suggests that the government, as with previous questionnaires, wants to use the consultation to legitimize its own measures by claiming that they are based on popular will.

In Magyar Demokrata, Ida Nagy ponders the reasons for the relatively slow distribution of vaccines within the EU, and the implications of what many regard as an EU fiasco. The conservative columnist thinks that the EU failed to secure more vaccines because it tried to strike a balance between different lobbying groups. Nagy suspects that the EU was slow to broker a deal last year with AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech because of pressure from France, which hoped that Sanofi would also conclude its research and offer jabs. Nagy finds it highly problematic that details of the EU vaccine deals are kept confidential. She believes that the EU wants to hinder the efforts of national governments to obtain alternative vaccines from outside the EU, in order to protect the financial interests of AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BionNTech. Nagy claims that national debt increases as a result of extended lockdowns will further weaken national sovereignty and increase the leverage of Brussels. She concludes by adding that citizens of the EU have failed to show solidarity towards each other, which casts doubt on the salience of the whole EU integration process.

In its editorial, 168 Óra acknowledges that the EU has been less than successful in purchasing and delivering coronavirus vaccines. The left-wing weekly admits that in order to speed up vaccination, the Hungarian government has had to look for alternative sources. Nonetheless, 168 Óra finds it disturbing that the government authorised the use of the Russian Sputnik vaccine before it was authorised by the EU or the Hungarian health authorities, and is urging the speedy accreditation of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine. 168 Óra fears that the extraordinary approval procedures will weaken trust and slow down economic recovery in Hungary.

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