The European Union has warned Hungary not to undermine its own democracy in an effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Hungarian lawmakers approved a bill on Monday that grants Prime Minister Viktor Orbán the power to bypass Parliament and rule by decree indefinitely. It also introduces harsher penalties for people violating quarantine regulations or spreading misinformation related to the virus. Future elections have also been suspended while a state of emergency is in place.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Tuesday that as governments fight the coronavirus, "It is of utmost importance that emergency measures are not at the expense of our fundamental principles and values as set out in the Treaties. Any emergency measures must be limited to what is necessary and strictly proportionate. They must not last indefinitely. Moreover, governments must make sure that such measures are subject to regular scrutiny."
A Hungarian government spokesperson responded that the new measures uphold "EU values, rule of law, press freedom ... [and] are congruent with the Treaties and Hungarian constitution and targeted exclusively at fighting the coronavirus."