Orbнn destroys EU unity by imposing state of emergency?

Viktor Orban
Victor Orban / EPA-EFE / STEPHANIE LECOCQ

The state of emergency imposed during the pandemic is still in force in Hungary and will last until June 1, 2022. However, the country's Prime Minister Victor Orban found a new "excuse" to maintain the state of emergency in the country. The government in Budapest yesterday decided to impose a new state of emergency due to the war in Ukraine.

Hence, the public there began to publicly ask the question: has the national state of emergency become a new norm and a new standard in Hungary?

"Orban's state of emergency over the Ukraine war" was widely described as another dictatorial robbery of the government. As it is stated, Hungary has a small part of the border that it shares with Ukraine and hence the introduction of a state of emergency in the country is unnecessary, domestic analysts comment.

As the world continues to look for productive ways to help vulnerable Ukrainian citizens, the Hungarian government is now using the humanitarian crisis to advance its own authoritarian ambitions, the Artistic Freedom Initiative told EUObserver.

On May 3, 2022, the Hungarian Minister of Justice submitted to Parliament the 10th Amendment to the Hungarian Constitution (also known as the Basic Law) with one key change: a new "special legal order" authorizing the government to declare a state of emergency. in case of armed conflict. war or humanitarian catastrophe in a neighboring country. "

With active war in the country with which Hungary shares a border, the amendment is likely to authorize the government to replace parliament and pass laws decree restricting civil and political rights.

Therefore, international actors, according to the organization, including the European Union, should fear the expansion of the powers of Prime Minister Viktor Orban given the open anti-democratic goals of the Hungarian ruling right-wing Fidesz party.

Under Victor Orban, the party has embarked on decades of efforts to oppose democratic norms, such as the independence of the judiciary, minority rights and freedom of expression and association.

For the past two years, the government has repeatedly declared itself a "dangerous state" due to the Covid-19 pandemic and has used its expanded powers to issue strict restrictions that are clearly aimed at suppressing political dissent.

Budapest, Hungary / Photo EPA-EFE / MARTON MONUS HUNGARY OUT

These include criminalizing freedom of expression, as anyone could be punished or imprisoned for a misdefined act of spreading false information "that could hamper the effectiveness of protection efforts", and imposing new restrictions on media freedom because the government restricted the ability of the independent press to report pandemics from hospitals.

While many countries have reasonably restricted the right of assembly to limit the spread of the pandemic, Hungary has used its extraordinary and broad powers to restrict rallies as a ploy to target political opposition.

For example, in 2020, a neo-Nazi rally was held without police interference in an open public square, despite the fact that the Covid-19 precautionary measures were not observed; In contrast, when the opposition and independent lawmakers staged "car" demonstrations against pandemic-related restrictions, the government imposed heavy fines on protesters even though they remained in their vehicles and followed instructions for social distancing, analysts said.

Some opposition media outlets note that although the current state of emergency is in effect until June 1, 2022, it is unsustainable to further justify the current special order based on the pandemic, as almost all restrictions on Covid have already been lifted.

Orban would no doubt argue that the rule of law still exists in Hungary, and that the government's intention to amend the constitution is clearly aimed at covering up Fidesz's authoritarian actions under the guise of legality, they said.

That is why Fidesz is trying to pass a constitutional amendment that would approve a state of emergency based on the war in Ukraine, which could last for years.

It is obvious why Fidesz prefers to act on urgent procedures even with a large parliamentary majority: the decision by executive decree carries little political risk, as there is no debate on legislative proposals in which the opposition party can play an important role in shaping public opinion. .

Instead, decrees can be passed in the shadows and target basic democratic rights, beyond the limits allowed under normal circumstances.

Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orban
Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orban / Photo: EPA-EFE / Zoltan Mathe

That is why Fidesz is trying to pass a constitutional amendment that would approve a state of emergency based on the war in Ukraine, which could last for years.

It is obvious why Fidesz prefers to act on urgent procedures even with a large parliamentary majority: the decision by executive decree carries little political risk, as there is no debate on legislative proposals in which the opposition party can play an important role in shaping public opinion. .

Instead, decrees can be passed in the shadows and target basic democratic rights, beyond the limits allowed under normal circumstances.

Hungarian human rights activists will continue to monitor legal developments, document the disintegration of democracy, and perform a critical oversight role in cases involving the abuse of power.

However, without the support of the EU and the European Community, not only will the Hungarian government continue to take power, but other countries in the region will be encouraged to follow the same dark path of authoritarianism.

Orban's decision met with a number of reactions. As Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of European Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) in the European Parliament, wrote on Twitter: "Hungary was no longer free, it is no longer a democracy. Verhofstadt wonders how long the EU will tolerate this "horror".

For Mikhail Podoliak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenki, there is no doubt that Orban's decision is a PR campaign.

"This is a PR action by the Hungarian government. They communicate, they probably have a Russian lobby. "They are now starting to work on a way of informing that it will not be in favor of Ukraine or European pro-Ukrainian unity.

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