“Hungarian democracy is alive and well, and we’re succeeding in our fight against the novel coronavirus,” State Secretary Zoltán Kovács said in an op-ed published by The Washington Post on Saturday.
Kovács responded to an earlier article by George Will, who suggested that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was an “inspiration” for US conservatism shifting toward authoritarianism. Kovacs quoted Will as referring to the Hungarian PM as the “destroyer of Hungary’s democracy” who has “extended direct or indirect control over courts… and the media”.
“In our democracy, the press is indeed lively and critical, the courts are independent (see the Supreme Court decision just last month in a prominent Roma segregation case, a ruling that contradicted the government’s position), and opposition candidates still win elections,” Kovacs said.
“Voter turnout in Hungary’s 2018 parliamentary election topped 70 percent, the highest since 2002. That’s hardly an indicator of a destroyed democracy,” he said.
Kovács also quoted Will’s article as accusing Orbán of using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to build a dictatorship, and said that “the government called for a state of emergency entirely consistent with the provisions of our constitution, even giving parliament more say in the extraordinary measure, and the prime minister says it will come to an end June 20”.
“Thanks to these extraordinary measures, our government was able to take swift action with restrictions on movement and support to our health-care system that helped us avoid the levels of infection and death tolls we see elsewhere in Europe,” Kovács said in his article.