BOISE, Idaho – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today released the following statement regarding reports that Prime Minister Victor Orbán of Hungary is using the coronavirus pandemic to pursue greater executive powers:
“I am very concerned by today’s news that Hungary will be indefinitely ruled by executive fiat. The Hungarian Parliament, controlled entirely by Prime Minister Orbán’s Fidesz party, has granted Orbán’s request to respond to the coronavirus outbreak with unquestioned power. The new law has no sunset or renewal period for the prime minister’s expanded powers and suspends the Hungarian Parliament. It would sentence persons found guilty of spreading fake news to up to five years in prison and would impose heavy sentences on quarantine breakers. Additionally, it suspends all elections.
“Despite the challenges presented by the current outbreak, emergencies should never be used as an excuse to weaken democratic institutions. The government of Hungary, an ally and member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, should carefully consider its actions in this crisis and maintain the democratic core we all share.”