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It is not true that Hungary’s new law in response to the epidemic suspends parliament, Zsolt Németh, the head of the foreign affairs committee, has said, addressing concerns raised over the law by a United States senator.
On Monday, Republican Senator James Risch of Idaho said in a statement that Hungary’s new law which enhances government powers to tackle the novel coronavirus epidemic “suspends” the country’s legislative body.
In a letter addressed to the senator, Németh said: “This could not be further from the truth.” Parliament is scheduled to meet again early next week, he added. The law in question, he said, “does not concern the operations of the National Assembly or its committees, the rights of or time allotted to the opposition, or anything of this nature”. Addressing the senator’s remark that the law “suspends all elections”, Németh said that although the legislation does suspend by-elections for the duration of the state of emergency, it would not affect the 2022 parliamentary elections. He noted that Hungary’s constitution clearly stipulates that a general election would have to be held by May 2022 at the latest. Németh said Risch had been “deliberately misled” about the law. “At first glance [Risch’s statement] is just like the hundreds of similar ones we have got used to seeing over the past ten years,” he said, adding that Risch’s statement was crucial in demonstrating how “a failure to carry out basic fact-checking leads to alternative realities”. This is “especially unfortunate” given that it “overshadows” the “promising development” of Hungarian-US ties seen under Donald Trump’s presidency, he added.