Mar 30, 2020 - World

Hungary's Viktor Orbán granted sweeping powers amid coronavirus crisis

Viktor Orbán. Photo: Michal Cizek/AFP via Getty Images

Hungary's parliament passed a law Monday to allow Prime Minister Viktor Orbán almost unlimited power, for an indefinite period, to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: Hungary has taken a sharply authoritarian turn over the past decade under Orbán, and its likely that he and other strongman leaders around the world will seek to maintain powers they gain during the current crisis long after it's over.

Details: The new law puts Hungary into a state of emergency with no time limit. Orbán will be allowed to rule by decree, and all elections will be suspended.

  • Orbán's Fidesz Party controls parliament, along with most of the media and government institutions. It passed the law despite opposition from rival parties and civil society.
  • It includes "jail terms of up to five years for intentionally spreading misinformation that hinders the government response to the pandemic, leading to fears that it could be used to censor or self-censor criticism of the government response," per The Guardian.

Where things stand: Hungary has 447 confirmed coronavirus cases with 15 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Limited testing means the case count could be significantly higher.

Go deeper