Hungarian Prime Minister indicates backtracking on rule by decree

Hungarian Prime Minister indicates backtracking on rule by decree

The Hungarian government could give up its ability to rule by decree at the end of May, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Friday during a trip to Serbia.

Orban’s announcement came after two men were detained earlier this week over Facebook posts critical of Hungary’s government, sending shockwaves through Hungarian society.

It also follows weeks of heavy criticism from Hungary’s opposition, international watchdogs and the European Parliament, with some critics saying that Hungary has become a dictatorship.

Under an emergency law approved in late March as a response to the coronavirus crisis, Hungary’s government can rule by decree without a time limit. People who publicize what are viewed as untrue or distorted facts — and which could interfere with the protection of the public, or could alarm or agitate a large number of people — face several years in jail.

The government said the law is necessary to allow it to make decisions during the crisis. “We successfully defended our country,” the prime minister said Friday, adding that Hungary acted democratically and that once the emergency measures are withdrawn it will return to a normal parliamentary system.

Orban said that “criticism of the controversial measures was unwarranted. We give everyone the chance to apologize to Hungary for the unjust accusations”

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