The Hungarian government announced Tuesday that parliament has voted to end the extraordinary legal order conferring special powers on government during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gergely Gulyás, chief of staff of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, said the government welcomes parliament’s decision to approve the termination of the state of emergency.
“The rules of the Hungarian constitution are clear. The government in this situation had special powers to pass laws, but this is now over,” Mr. Gulyás said.
“We’ve got through the first wave [of the epidemic]. We don’t know if there’ll be a second one, but the operative board will remain active and the provisions passed into law will remain in place,” he said.
While thanking whose who contributed to the coronavirus response efforts, Gulyás censured “the left” for its failure to come together with the nation to address the crisis.
Gulyás also announced an upcoming nationwide “national consultation” survey to give Hungarians the chance to express their opinions on the government’s response to the epidemic.
While the European Commission acknowledged there was no basis for a case against the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for violations of the rights of the Hungarian people, this did not prevent leftists from declaring Hungary a “dictatorship.”
The foreign ministers of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden all signed a letter slamming Hungary’s Wuhan coronavirus response, leading Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó to chastise his counterparts for “spreading false news.”
“We are moving on, but let us make one thing clear now: Hungarians are a nation more than a thousand years old, and it does not ask for this pathetically hypocritical patronising,” he said.
Hungary’s ambassador to the Holy See, Eduard Habsburg, noted in a tweet Wednesday: “So just in case you missed it yesterday – extraordinary ‘Corona powers ended by, yes, the Hungarian Parliament. (As announced beforehand).”
“No dictatorship. Just democracy at work, folks,” he said.
While similar measures were accepted as necessary in other EU member states, Hungary was singled out for criticism for taking steps taken elsewhere without criticism. Some, in fact, went further than Hungary and have yet to relinquish the special powers they assumed.
Without ever declaring it, for example, Italy’s unelected government assumed similar “special powers,” imposing a series of restrictions on the rights of citizens and businesses that were never approved by the Italian parliament.
Legal scholars have accused the Italian government of serial violations of the national constitution by assuming powers that do not belong to it.
Writing in Milano Finanza, Italian law professor Maria Lucia Di Bitonto said in late April that Italy’s ongoing national lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus constituted a serious abuse of authority and an effective suspension of the rule of law.
Most of the constraints on individual freedoms and on production activities aimed at dealing with the pandemic “find their legal justification in decisions of the executive or of regional or peripheral institutions,” Prof. Di Bitonto declared.
The absence of parliamentary approval represented a serious legal and political breach, she stated, since “the only source empowered to limit freedoms is the law, a direct emanation of popular sovereignty.”
“The political importance of the many legal reservations established by the Constitution regarding freedom is crucial,” Di Bitonto said, because “they ensure that the only source authorized to alter people’s lives is that which is a direct expression of the sovereignty of the same individuals against whom the restrictions are intended.”