In its last session of the year, more than thirty issues were on the agenda in Parliament on Tuesday. Among these were a bill to extend the state of emergency due to the coronavirus epidemic until June 1, 2022, which passed with 133 votes in favor, 2 against, and 1 absention.
A majority of the opposition, totalling 63 Members of Parliament, did not take part in the vote. While voting was taking place, opposition prime ministerial candidate Péter Márki-Zay held a joint press conference with his political partners in front of Parliament.
Gergely Gulyás, minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s Office, had submitted the bill, which affects certain regulatory issues related to the pandemic-induced state of emergency.
A state of emergency was originally declared on March 11, 2020 after the coronavirus first appeared in Hungary, permitting the government to take protective measures to control its spread. The state of emergency ended on June 18, 2020, but certain measures remained in force.
The second wave of the coronavirus arrived in the fall of 2020, leading to Parliament voting in favor of measures to protect against the second wave of the pandemic on November 10.
The state of emergency was extended again in February, then in May of this year, and finally in September it was extended until January 1, 2022, despite protests by the political opposition that it was unnecessary.
State Secretary István György noted at a previous session of Parliament that extending the state of emergency would not affect the timetable of next year’s Parliamentary elections or national referendums.
In addition, the current legal amendment also states that the government reserves the right to initiate an early end to the state of emergency if it deems it possible.
In practice, the state of emergency affects certain regulatory changes, such as extending the moratorium on mortgage repayments until June 30, granting tax refunds for individuals raising children, and exempting students from language exam requirements in the awarding of diplomas.