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‘Special Times Call for Special Measures’ – House Speaker Kövér Defends Coronavirus Law in Letter to 60 Senior European Politicians

MTI-Hungary Today 2020.04.14.

The current “special times” call for special measures, László Kövér, Hungary’s parliamentary speaker, wrote in a letter addressed to 60 European politicians and released to MTI on Tuesday.

In his letter, Kövér said that Hungary’s recent coronavirus law does not curb parliament’s powers. “On the contrary, this has been the only special legislation in Europe aimed at increasing parliament’s authorisations as against the government”.

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The Hungarian legislation has been “subject to sharp criticism” since the passage of that law on March 30, Kövér said. “Concerned voices have warned that the Hungarian government has obtained full control over the country for an indefinite period of time and democracy is jeopardised”.

The house speaker, however, dismissed those worries as groundless, and assured recipients of his letter that the legislation was fully in line with the country’s constitution. The law does not grant unlimited powers to the government, Kövér said, adding that “even this increased room for manoeuvre for the government is not as large as that of some governments of the EU in a state of emergency”.

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The government, he said, has only been authorised to take “proportionate and justified” special measures with regard to the Covid-19 epidemic “to protect the lives, health, security and economic stability of citizens”. Those special measures will lose their effect once the state of emergency is over, he said.

“Parliament is, and will be, in control of the situation,” Kövér said, adding that the national assembly holds regular sessions and has control over the government’s measures during the state of emergency. The law “clearly confirms parliament’s right to partially or fully strip the government of its authorisations at any time,” Kövér said.

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The Hungarian parliament is a “well-functioning and sovereign institution”, which does not need “uninvited external intervention” to protect its authorisations, Kövér said.

Kövér went on to say that “most Hungarians are disappointed that some political factors in Europe even in the current crisis cannot get rid of their personal bias and political fixations and cannot concentrate on fighting a shared hazard”.

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“We thank all those that are ready to help us in good faith and call on all others not to add to the damage if they cannot contribute to efforts against the epidemic,” Kövér said in his letter.

The letter was sent to the parliamentary speakers of the EU member states, the president of the European Parliament, group leaders of the EP, heads of the EU’s institutions, the heads of the parliamentary assemblies of the Council of Europe and OSCE, as well as the house speakers of seven German states.

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You can read the full text of the law here.

Featured photo by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI