Hungary state of emergency: what are emergency powers for Ukraine War - who is Prime Minister Viktor Orban?

Viktor Orban, who has been an ally of Vladimir Putin, has declared a state of emergency and given his government powers to rule by decree

<p>Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban has declared a state of emergency in the country as a result of the Ukraine war. (Credit: Getty Images)</p>

Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban has declared a state of emergency in the country as a result of the Ukraine war. (Credit: Getty Images)

Hungary has dclared a state of emergency over the Ukraine War.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban made the move saying that the conflict in the country was a “constant threat to Hungary”.

The leader, who has been an ally of Vladimir Putin in the past, added that by declaring the state of emergency, the Hungarian parliament would be able to “respond immediately and protect” its citizens.

Here’s everything you need to know about the situation.

Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban has declared a state of emergency in the country as a result of the Ukraine war. (Credit: Getty Images)

Why did Hungary declare a state of emergency?

Mr Orban declared the state of emergency on 25 May, saying that the war in Ukraine was “putting our physical security at risk and threatening the energy and financial security of our economy and families”.

The state of emergency will allow Hungarian politicians to enact laws without any parliamentary oversight.

It also allows the temporary suspension of existsing laws in the country.

It comes after Hungary’s ruling party passed a constitutional amendment on 24 May which allows the government to declare a state of emergency if a neighbouring country was involved in armed conflict, wars or in a humanitarian crisis.

The country has most recently introduced a state of emergency during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This move was met with criticism from the public and legal professionals, who claimed that it hampered democratic rights.

The Covid-19 special legal order is set to expire on 1 June.

What has been the reaction to Hungary declaring a state of emergency?

The move has been met with criticism, with some saying that Mr Orban’s government have been breaking down democractic freedoms int he country since coming to power in 2010.

Emese Pasztor, from the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement: “By always allowing the possibility of introducing a special legal order in the future, it will lose its special character. It will become the new normal, which will threaten the fundamental rights of all of us, and rule by decree will further diminish the importance of Parliament.”

Who is Viktor Orban?

Mr Orban, 58, has served as Hungary’s Prime Minister since 2010.

His current term follows his first period in offce, having servied as Prime Minister from 1998 until 2002.

He is a the leader of Hungarian political party Fidesz, a right-wing populist group.

After the beginning of the Ukraine War, Mr Orban was the first EU leader to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He described this meeting as a “peacekeeping mission”.

Viktor Orban and Vladimir Putin have close ties (image: AFP/Getty Images)

Despite initially welcoming Ukrainian refugees and supporting Ukraine’s membership application to the EU, Mr Orban refused to support sanctions on Russian oil and gas.

He has even been singled out by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after the Hungarian Prime Minister implemented a ban on the transfer of arms to the country.

In an address to EU leaders on 25 March, Mr Zelensky listed countries had supported Ukraine before singling out Hungary for its lack of support.

He said: “Hungary … I want to stop here and be honest. Once and for all. You have to decide for yourself who you are with. Listen, Viktor, do you know what’s going on in Mariupol?”

After winning the 2022 election on 4 April, Mr Orban said: “We never had so many opponents. Brussels bureaucrats... the international mainstream media, and the Ukrainian president.”

His win was welcomed by President Putin , who sent him a congraulatory message which read: “Despite the difficult international situation, the further development of bilateral ties of partnership fully accords with the interests of the peoples of Russia and Hungary.”