Hungary’s Orban Seeks Indefinite Emergency Powers in Virus Bill

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(Bloomberg) --

Hungary’s government asked lawmakers to extend a state of emergency indefinitely amid the coronavirus crisis and introduce prison sentences for those deemed to be spreading false information.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban would be allowed to announce steps to contain the pandemic via decrees until the government no longer sees it as necessary, according to the draft legislation published on the parliament website late Friday. Promoting false information that hinders authorities’ efforts would carry a prison term of as long as five years.

Parliament is scheduled to vote on the bill next week, with the ruling parties requiring opposition support to pass it with an 80% majority. Hungary is subject to several European Union probes for violating democratic norms.

The move to curb the flow of some information follows criticism from independent media and opposition groups that the cabinet is withholding details and showing inconsistencies in its crisis management. A person has also been detained for allegedly spreading false claims the nation’s capital faces a lockdown.

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