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Coronavirus: Fast-tracking of State of Emergency Bill in Parliament Stopped by Opposition

MTI-Hungary Today 2020.03.23.

The opposition on Monday voted against deviating from house rules in connection with the parliamentary debate on extending the state of emergency due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Accordingly, the earliest the bill can be approved in a fast-tracked procedure will be in six days’ time.

Orbán on Extending State of Emergency: Coronavirus Response Requires Special Measures

The proposal to deviate from house rules — which would have needed four-fifth majority to pass — was supported by 137 lawmakers from the ruling Fidesz and KDNP (Christian Democrat) parties, national minority representatives and four MPs of the far-right Mi Hazánk party. Fully 52 lawmakers voted against, namely opposition right-wing Jobbik, leftist Socialist, leftist-liberal Democratic Coalition, centrist green LMP and leftist green Párbeszéd lawmakers and four independents.

Photo by Tamás Kovács/MTI

The opposition said they voted against the bill because it does not contain a time limit for maintaining the state of emergency.

The proposal to fast-track the bill, which needed two-thirds majority support to pass, was supported with 152 votes for and 31 against.

Hungarian Press Roundup: Weeklies on the State of Emergency

The government announced a state of emergency from 3pm on March 11. Under the constitution, this is restricted to 15 days unless parliament extends it.

Justice Minister Judit Varga submitted a bill on behalf of the government last Friday, which needs two-thirds majority support to pass, enabling the government to take every measure that serves to protect citizens and guarantee the stability of the national economy in response to the novel coronavirus epidemic. The bill also includes introducing stricter regulations in the penal code against anyone who violates quarantine rules or commits scaremongering.

Featured photo by Tamás Kovács/MTI