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'Absolutely unacceptable': MEP says Hungary's COVID-19 law means democracy has been suspended

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, right, chats with his deputy Zsolt Semjen during a plenary session of the Parliament in Budapest, Hungary
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, right, chats with his deputy Zsolt Semjen during a plenary session of the Parliament in Budapest, Hungary   -   Copyright  Zoltan Mathe/MTI via AP
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Hungary's new emergency law to deal with the coronavirus crisis is the suspension of parliamentary democracy in the country, it's been claimed.

Spanish MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar hit out after Hungarian MPs passed legislation allowing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to rule by decree for as long as a state of emergency — declared on 11 March — is in effect.

The law also sets prison terms of up to five years for those convicted of spreading false information about the pandemic.

"This last legislative move is the last drop," said López. "It means actually the suspension of parliamentary democracy in Hungary.

He added that it's "an absolute power to rule by decree by Orbán with no time frame, which is absolutely unacceptable".

The European Commission is investigating the new law and commissioners will debate it on Wednesday.

“Any emergency measures must be limited to what is necessary and strictly proportionate," said Eric Mamer, chief spokesman for the European Commission.

"They must not last indefinitely. Moreover, governments must make sure that such measures are subjects of regular scrutiny.”

Hungarian government spokesman Zoltán Kovács countered on Twitter saying extraordinary measures are upholding EU values, rule of law and press freedom.