Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban now wields the power to rule by decree and suspend elections after an overwhelming majority of the Hungarian parliament voted to give him emergency powers on Monday, amidst the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

There is no time limit on the measures, which allow the government to punish and prosecute journalists for spreading false information that misinforms or riles up the public.

“A person who, during the period of a special legal order and in front of a large audience, states or disseminates any untrue fact or any misrepresented true fact that is capable of hindering or preventing the efficiency of protection is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for one to five years,” the order reads.

Disobeying quarantine orders is also punishable by up to three years in prison according to the new bill.

Elections are suspended for an indefinite period, and all emergency government orders are in place indefinitely until the coronavirus crisis has passed.


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Orban spoke about the need for special executive powers on Hungarian radio last week:

“We cannot react quickly if there are debates and lengthy legislative and lawmaking procedures. And in times of crisis and epidemic, the ability to respond rapidly can save lives.

The Government is not asking for anything extraordinary. It is asking for the ability to rapidly enact certain measures. We don’t want to enact measures that the Government has no general right to enact — we simply want to do so swiftly. We cannot react quickly if there are debates and lengthy legislative and lawmaking procedures. And in times of crisis and epidemic, the ability to respond rapidly can save lives.

The Government is not asking for anything extraordinary. It is asking for the ability to rapidly enact certain measures. We don’t want to enact measures that the Government has no general right to enact — we simply want to do so swiftly.”

As reported by Hungary Today, Monday’s vote to grant Orban’s government the emergency measures was passed with 137 votes in favor and only 53 against.

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