Parliament on Tuesday voted to amend the law on the special legal order in connection with measures to protect the country against the coronavirus pandemic, thus extending the effect of decrees issued by the government under its emergency powers.
The opposition LMP party has said it rejects the government’s proposal to extend the period of the special legal order in connection with the coronavirus epidemic, accusing the government of abusing its powers.
László Lóránt Keresztes, the green party’s leader, told a press conference on Tuesday that the government’s handling of the crisis was woeful, citing individuals and small businesses experiencing hardships in Hungary due to inadequate government aid.
Further, he said local councils had to contend with “brutal austerity measures”, and he accused ruling Fidesz mayors of abusing the special legal order.
Márta Demeter, the party’s deputy leader, slammed Fidesz for its “failed economic policy”, saying the ruling party’s “mates” and multinationals had enjoyed preference over ordinary Hungarians, families and small businesses when it came to doling out funds.
She said that while almost 30,000 Hungarians have lost their lives during the epidemic, the government was fixated on the 2022 general election and was busy privatising public assets and putting them into foundations which would serve as “Fidesz’s personal fund”.
Meanwhile, Demeter said the government should engage in “meaningful consultations” with Budapest residents concerning the planned Chinese university in the city.
Later on Tuesday, the Democratic Coalition rejected to vote in favour of expanding the state of emergency, accusing Fidesz of striving to “cement its power and exercise it without accountability”.
Gergely Arató, the party’s deputy group leader, told a press conference that the government had abused the powers it acquired by introducing the state of emergency. “They supported oligarchs but not the many employees and entrepreneurs in difficult situations. They scrapped parking fees but neglected contact tracing and testing,” he said.
Should Fidesz table proposals that actually contribute to handling the pandemic or to relaunching the economy, DK would be willing to discuss “or even support” them, Arató said.
The amendment was passed with 128 votes in favour and 57 against.
The legislation approved on Tuesday contains a sunset clause — 15 days after the start of the autumn parliamentary session — but the government may decide to end the state of emergency before that.
Justice Minister Judit Varga, in her reasoning attached to the bill, said
the extension was necessary to defend against variants of the coronavirus present in Hungary and spreading across Europe.