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Viktor Orban and Hungarian government poised to give up unrestrained powers

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Anna Donath, Hungarian MEP speaking to Euronews
Anna Donath, Hungarian MEP speaking to Euronews   -   Copyright  Euronews
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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his ruling Fidesz party submitted a bill to end special emergency powers on Tuesday night. The Prime Minister's office says the vote to ratify this could take place within 2 weeks.

The bill was anticipated in a Facebook post by Justice minister Judit Varga who went on to say the legislation had been a success and criticised opposition parties for running an "unprecedented disinformation campaign." She wrote: "Thanks to the special legal order, the Government could make quick and effective decisions in recent weeks to curb the pandemic, so unlike other countries, we have been able to avoid an outbreak, mass illnesses and thousands of deaths."

She added: "Instead of support and national cooperation, the opposition ran an unprecedented disinformation campaign with the mainstream liberal media, both in Hungary and on the international stage."

But Hungarian MEP Anna Donath told Euronews the opposition had no real choice.

"The way they proposed this was a trap for the opposition because the deal they offered was unacceptable as there was no time limit in the bill - the opposition had to say no," Dorath said.

The government submitted the bill to parliament Tuesday night to end what critics have called a rule by decree. The emergency measures did not include a sunset clause, prompting opposition politicians and critics to call the move a blatant power grab.

The bill, which was first introduced on March 30, gave the government the power to issue prison sentences for the spread of false information, leading to a number of people being investigated by authorities. The government also recently made it illegal to lawfully change gender, although that was a parliamentary vote rather than a bill rushed through using the emergency powers.

The European Parliament debated the country's controversial coronavirus laws and MEPs called for the Commission to start infringement procedures and to stop payments to Hungary.