Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban Fidesz party may need to be expelled from the European People’s Party (EPP) after the Hungarian government extended the country’s state of emergency powers, suggested Donald Tusk, the former Polish Prime Minister and current president of the EPP.
Tusk also called the extension of the state of emergency during the coronavirus crisis as “politically dangerous and morally unacceptable”, which prompted a fierce response from Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša.
— Janez Janša (@JJansaSDS) April 1, 2020
Tusk wrote in his letter that members of the EPP should “rethink” their stance on Orbán’s party, Fidesz, which belongs to the EPP, but is currently voluntarily suspended.
“Many of you, even if you criticized PM Orbán for his previous decisions, did not agree to expel Fidesz from our political family,” Tusk wrote.
According to EPP leader, even though the priority is to fight the Coronavirus outbreak “the time will soon come, when you will have to again re-consider your positions”.
The former European Council president said the crisis should not be used as an excuse for state overreach.
“The state of emergency, or the state of danger, must serve the governments in their fight against the virus, and not strengthen their power over the citizens,” wrote Tusk.
In his response to critics of his measure, Orbán said, “It would be most regrettable to waste time on anything else than…defeating the epidemic. Those who are unable to help should at least refrain from hindering the efforts of others…This is not a game. The lives of our citizens are at stake in every member state.”
Tusk, along with media outlets, have been critical that the government has enacted emergency measures for a so-called indefinite period of time — a highly misleading claim.
“This is why so many questions and concerns appear regarding the situation in Hungary, where according to many, the emergency measures which have been introduced are disproportionate and inadequate, and what is more, they have been introduced for an indefinite period of time,” Tusk concluded in his letter to the EPP.
Hungarian government spokesperson Zoltan Kovacs also took to Twitter to point out inaccuracies in Tusk’s claims about Hungary.
1/2 How is this “morally” unacceptable to @donaldtuskEPP? The HU law has not built "a permanent state of emergency” and it has not been "introduced for an indefinite period of time”. They can be lifted at any time by Parliament and will end when the pandemic ends.
In the words of https://t.co/Ndk2oslzbv
— Zoltan Kovacs (@zoltanspox) April 1, 2020
Tusk is not the only liberal political figure on the attack.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who served under the presidency of Barack Obama, has called for Hungary to expelled from the European Union.
“Kick Hungary out of the EU,” Rice posted on Twitter.
Florence Senator and former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi made a similar call for Hungary’s removal.
I have been dreaming of a "United States of Europe" for years. Precisely for this reason, I have the right, and the duty, to say that after what Orban has done today, the European Union MUST act and make him change his mind. Or, simply, expel Hungary from the Union
— Matteo Renzi (@matteorenzi) March 30, 2020
Hungarians have remained supportive of the government’s emergency powers.
A poll conducted by Hungarian think-tank Nézőpont Intézet found that 90 percent of all Hungarians agreed that emergency rule must be maintained and that the government currently has a 74 percent approval rate from Hungarians during the coronavirus outbreak.