An interesting thread by Garvan Walshe on why Hungary enacting its Enabling Act during the coronavirus crisis is a serious miscalculation by the country’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

First published in March 2020.

Hungary’s Enabling Act is a grave miscalculation by Viktor Orbán.


First, it removes the disguise from a disguised regime.

As International Relations and Policy Analyst Daniel Hegedus put itHungary is now an autocracy without adjectives.

Second, it refutes Orbán’s own legitimation narrative.

His rule was supposed to depend on electoral legitimacy: this law allows him to rule indefinitely without them.

Third, it makes it impossible for his friends to hide.

Leaving out a sunset clause, it turns necessary emergency legislation into Hitlerian parliamentary tactic.

Orbán Uses Coronavirus to Put Hungary’s Democracy in a State of Danger. / The German Marshall Fund of the United States

Fourth, it will galvanize the opposition.

Once the epidemic is over (and given the state of Hungary’s health system it will be felt badly there) they will come out on the streets demanding the restoration of democracy.

Fifth, it splits Hungary and Poland.

Poland is trying to have a presidential election in the middle of an epidemic. Hungary is trying permanent rule by decree.

Viktor Orbán. / Kremlin

Once the epidemic is over, these wide ranging powers will come within the purview of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Until now Viktor Orbán has proceeded slowly, by salami tactics. This has allowed him to maintain domestic as well as international support.

This uncharacteristic rush into the open has exposed his regime for all to see. It will be the beginning of his downfall.

It has even provoked a reaction from normally quiet President von der Leyen: measures “must not last indefinitely”, which is the specific problem with this enabling act.

Statement by President von der Leyen on emergency measures in Member States - 31 March 2020. / European Commission

Tweets posted on 30 March 2020 by @garvanwalshe.

[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 30 March 2020 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Wikimedia/Presidential Press and Information Office. - Vladimir Putin with PM Viktor Orbán on a visit to Hungary. | 17 Feb 2015. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)