The Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament condemn the steps taken by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, under the cover of the COVID-19 outbreak, to give the Hungarian government open-ended powers to rule by decree. With further emergency powers set to be voted in by the Hungarian Parliament and with news plans for new criminal laws on misinformation, S&D MEPs are deeply concerned about the scope for further erosion of democratic scrutiny and press and media freedom in Hungary.
Published: 19:53 March 24, 2020
“With the COVID-19 crisis, Europe is facing unprecedented economic, social and public health challenges and unprecedented measures are being taken in response. However, this is no excuse for an indefinite lockdown of democracy. With these moves, Prime Minister Orbán is only serving his domestic political interests with public health concerns as a cover. No matter the circumstances, no government can be allowed to introduce unlimited powers. I call on the European Commission as guardians of the Treaties to urgently assess compliance with the values of our Union and also for the member states to address this immediately in the framework of the Article 7 discussions on Hungary in the Council,” said S&D Group president Iratxe García.
“I also have a question for the EPP: as Orbán and his party are still members of your political family, do you support an indefinite lockdown on democracy in Hungary? Or will you now finally take action and expel Fidesz?” concluded García.
“As many governments across the EU introduce emergency powers in order to effectively tackle the very real threat that the coronavirus poses, we need to ensure measured and proportionate responses. Emergency powers, such as those Orbán is looking to gift himself, with no end date in sight, are neither measured nor proportionate. If there is anyone that cannot be trusted to restore the already eroding democratic standards in Hungary, it is Victor Orbán. We are calling on the Commission and the Council to act to ensure democracy and the rule of law are not dismantled indefinitely,” added Simona Bonafè, interim vice-president for resilient democracies and fundamental rights, interim vice-president for resilient democracies and fundamental rights.