Hungary’s parliament has granted its Prime Minister Viktor Orbán nearly “unlimited” power to lead his country amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
According to the new law that passed on Monday, Orbán can shut borders and enact new laws for an indefinite time.
“Few democracies have given their governments such latitude without an end date,” Bloomberg News reports.
From the report:
Hungary’s ruling party lawmakers overrode the objections of the opposition in a vote on Monday, handing Orban the right to bypass the assembly on any law. The Constitutional Court, which Orban has stacked with loyalists, will be the main body capable of reviewing government actions.
“I don’t know of another democracy where the government has effectively asked for a free hand to do anything for however long,” said Renata Uitz, director of the comparative constitutional-law program at Central European University in Budapest.
Dispelling concerns about the new powers, Orbán said it “poses no threat to democracy.”
Justice Minister Judit Varga similarly said any future action to be taken by the prime minister is “limited” to just “necessary and proportionate measures” to combat the spread of the COVID-19.
Here’s more on the law, via Bloomberg:
The law approved Monday is for the “prevention, handling and elimination of the human pandemic as well as to prevent and blunt its harmful effects,” which legal experts said may allow Fidesz to keep the emergency measures in place as long as they see potential effects of the virus.
By-elections and referendums can’t be held. There’s no word on national elections, with the next parliamentary ballot due in 2022.
Orban is portraying the opposition, which had pleaded with the premier to introduce a renewable 90-day sunset clause, as deserting the country at a time when unity should have prevailed.