Parl't votes to extend state of emergency

Parliament

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Lawmakers voted to extend the government's state-of-emergency powers for 90 days to better manage the coronavirus crisis, according to a report by state news wire MTI.

MPs approved the extension with a vote of 133 for, 55 against and 1 abstention.

In the law's preamble, the government reiterated its goals of "protecting the lives and health of Hungarian people" as well as "mitigating the economic damages and preserving workplaces", but said achieving those goals requires "fast and efficient decision-making".

"The past months have proven that the earlier approved extraordinary and temporary legal framework served these goals well," the government said.

Hungarian law allows the government itself to declare a state of emergency, or "state of danger" as it is called in the legislation, for 15 days, but lawmakers must approve any extension.

The government declared a state of emergency on November 4, as the second wave of the pandemic hit the country, and lawmakers voted to extend it for 90 days on November 10. The government extended the state of emergency under its own powers when that mandate expired from February 8. The legislation approved on Monday will come into force just as the 15-day limit on the government-declared state of emergency is reached.

The legislation requires the government to inform lawmakers of pandemic measures it takes on a regular basis during plenary sessions. If plenary sessions are not held, the government must inform the House Speaker and the leaders of all of the parliamentary groups of steps it is taking.

The legislation prohibits by-elections from being scheduled during the state of emergency and postpones those that are scheduled. Any such by-elections must be scheduled or rescheduled within 15 days after the state of emergency ends.

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