The Hungarian government declared a state of emergency that came into effect at midnight, 25 May. The reasoning offered for the move is the threat pissed by the ongoing War in Ukraine, which according to Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban, threatens the peace and order in the country.
“This war means a constant danger to Hungary. It poses a threat to our physical security,” Orban said in a video address, “it threatens our economy and our families in terms of energy supplies and material security.”
The nationalistic and Euro-sceptic Fidesz party won the national elections in early April this year, using non-interventionist rhetoric in response to the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. The Hungarian Prime Minister’s decision to forbid any military hardware transfer to Ukraine through the state’s territory was controversial and met with a cold reception from the international community.
In practice, introducing a state emergency allows Fidesz to rule via decrees instead of legal acts and bills that would have to be approved by the Hungarian parliament. It is a way to deal with the fallout from the war in neighboring Ukraine. The Hungarian government clams that the use of emergency powers will not influence the security of Hungarians and is not aimed at invading their rights or liberties as it is used as a tool to bypass the standard legislative procedure, giving the government much more control over the country’s economy. Orban’s opponents and human rights watchdogs have raised concerns about how the state of emergency might be co-opted to curtail civil liberties.
With the inflation reaching almost 10%, Hungary may find itself in a difficult position. It may be forced to undertake serious changes in public spending and cut many social welfare programs to lower spending. How this move to reduce spending will impact the Hungarian Armed Forces’ budget remains unknown.
Orban’s government has declared states of emergency on earlier occasions. The first was announced during the migration crisis that occurred in the mid-2010s. The second was in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that struck Hungary in 2020.
There are concerns about how the state of emergency might impact civil liberties and questions surround how long it will be in ace. The Hungarian government will announce its first actions under the emergency state on Wednesday revealing more information on the plan to restore economic and social order in the country.
Header image: screen captute from Prime Minister Orban’s video address announcing the state of emergency.