Washington—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement regarding legislation that passed through Parliament in Hungary giving the Prime Minister sweeping new emergency authority under the guise of measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic: 

“Prime Minister Orban is making a blatant power grab in the face of the worst global health crisis in recent history. This legislation marginalizes the Hungarian parliament and allows Prime Minister Orban to rule by decree like a dictator. It limits the parliament’s oversight authority and judicial review, and it imposes draconian punishments on citizens for COVID-related offenses that are vaguely defined and overly broad. Worse, there is no sunset clause or end date for when these powers would be terminated; that decision would be made solely by the Prime Minister.

“This is just the latest overreach by Prime Minister Orban, who has tightened his grip on power for years. The legislation solidifies his position as the incontestable ruler of a non-democratic Hungary. Such a serious affront to democracy anywhere is outrageous, and particularly within a NATO ally and EU member. Those organizations are founded on their members’ shared respect for freedom and democratic values. It is particularly egregious that Prime Minister Orban attempts to capitalize on the suffering of his own citizens for personal gain.

“I call on Prime Minister Orban to abandon this effort and focus on counter-COVID measures that actually prioritize keeping the Hungarian people safe.”

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