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Opposition Parties Against Special Powers of Epidemic Response Bill

MTI-Hungary Today 2020.03.22.

The opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) and green LMP parties on Sunday said the government’s coronavirus response bill would grant the government special powers for an indefinite length of time.

DK deputy head Csaba Molnár told an online press conference that the party will not vote in favour of the bill, nor for parliament to discuss it in an extraordinary session.

Molnar said that so far, 16 European Union member states had introduced a special legal order in view of the pandemic. However, none of them have done so indefinitely or without specifying the areas the government’s special powers pertain to – that would be “unimaginable in a democratic state based on the rule of law”, Molnár said.

DK specified four “conditions” for the government to be granted such powers, he said. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán “can see this as DK’s ultimatum,” he added.

The government’s special powers should be granted for a limited time, and be restricted to measures pertaining to the epidemic response and its impact on the economy, he said. The government may not be allowed to use the pandemic to exercise extraordinary powers at other areas, he said.

During the state of emergency, all parliamentary group leaders should have the right to turn to the constitutional court which would be obliged to rule on their complaints within three days, he said.

DK will not support any regulations curbing the freedom of the press and muzzling independent media, he said.

Fidesz Call on Parliament to Pass Coronavirus Law Urgently

At a separate, online press conference, green LMP said the government’s special powers must be granted for a limited time only. The time frame must be laid down in law, LMP co-leader Erzsébet Schmuck said.

Regarding economic measures to offset the economic impact of the pandemic, Schmuck said that by suspending “investments not serving the development of Hungarian economy”, such as the upgrade of the Paks nuclear plant and the Budapest-Belgrade railway line, some 600 billion forints (EUR 1.7 billion) could be re-allocated to epidemic response.

Those funds should be used to support people losing their jobs due to the epidemic, SMEs and local authorities, Schmuck said.

Jobbik urges stringent measures

At the same time, the opposition Jobbik party has urged stringent measures in view of the novel coronavirus epidemic to avoid developments similar to those in Italy.

Jobbik’s deputy group leader Koloman Brenner at an online press conference on Sunday proposed full screening of the demographic groups most vulnerable to the disease.

Referring to Germany’s practice of providing daily, detailed information on the situation, Brenner said that informing the public was of crucial importance.

Brenner slammed the government for its reluctance to introduce a curfew as suggested by his party, and insisted that the government was risking residents’ lives. Ruling Fidesz “seeks to use this grave health crisis to extend their powers”, the politician said, adding that “the epidemic must be eliminated rather than democracy”.

featured photo: Csaba Molnár of DK. (MTI/Bodnár Boglárka)