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Critics say Hungary's new laws allow PM Orban to consolidate control

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By Tokunbo Salako
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Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban leaves the building during departures at the end of an EU summit in Brussels, Friday, Oct. 16
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban leaves the building during departures at the end of an EU summit in Brussels, Friday, Oct. 16   -   Copyright  Olivier Matthys/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Hungary, which has been harder hit during the second wave of coronavirus than it was during the first, is the latest European country to impose a partial lockdown.

In a bid to tackle the rate of transmission, MPs have passed legislation extending a state of emergency for 90 days.

It was part of a wave of legislation, proposed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, which seeks to change the electoral law, amend rights concerning marriage and religion, temporarily ban protests and relax rules governing public funds. It also included a draft bill that would deny same-sex couples the right to adopt.

Euronews' November 11 report on the new legislation

The partial lockdown measures came as a sudden reversal from weeks of business-as-usual and a pandemic policy designed to protect the economy from the shock of lockdown. In mid-September, when daily COVID-19 deaths were still in the single digits, Orban indicated the government would shape its policy based on the number of deaths, not of infections.

But recent weeks have brought sharp increases in both, eclipsing spring numbers. Last week was the deadliest of the pandemic with 619 deaths, and the number of coronavirus patients being treated in hospitals went above 6,000 for the first time.

In announcing the lockdown, Orban said that if the number of infections continued to grow at that rate, “then our doctors ... and our hospitals (won’t be able to) cope with the burden.”

Journalist • Shona Murray