Orban declares state of emergency

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Hungary’s PM expands his power using the war in Ukraine

Starting his fourth consecutive term, Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban has declared a “state of emergency” in the Central European country. The measures are allowing Orban to expand his powers originally claimed over the coronavirus pandemic.

In a video posted to the prime minister’s Facebook page, the nationalist leader explains that the war next door poses a constant threat to Hungary and it is putting the Hungarian people’s “physical security at risk”, and “threatens the energy and financial security of the economy and families.” As a "result of the events in Ukraine," Orban announced that a “state of danger” would come into effect allowing his right-wing government to “protect Hungary and families”. The move came after Fidesz passed a constitutional amendment on Tuesday allowing a state of emergency to be declared when wars or other humanitarian catastrophes are taking place in neighboring states.

Human rights organization Hungarian Civil Liberties Union has criticized Orban’s actions in a statement saying “it will become the new normal” and it will “further diminish the importance of parliament.”

Hungary to collect $2.19 billion in new windfall taxes from banks and other firms

The Hungarian government would collect a total of $2.19 billion (815 billion forints) from eight sectors this year from special taxes on "extra profit" annually. The new measure would affect energy firms, banks, and airlines among other companies said Economic Development Minister Marton Nagy on Thursday.

A special tax of €10-15 per passanger would be imposed on airlines, and the bank sector would contribute $828 million (300 billion forints) annually on top of existing taxes, Nagy told journalists during a press conference.

A portion of these funds would be used to maintain the protection of the utility cost reduction, while a smaller portion for the development of armed forces.

Starting on Friday, only cars with Hungarian license plates will be able to fill up their tanks with price-reduced petrol. The minister explained that there have been serious misuses with the fuel price freeze.

Orban refuses to discuss EU ban on Russian oil

Viktor Orban has ruled out discussing the European Union’s Russian oil embargo in a letter to Charles Michel, head of the European Council, on May 23. In the letter obtained by 444, the Hungarian PM said it was “unlikely” that a solution could be found by May 30 (a special meeting of the European Council), and that Hungary was not in a position to agree to the proposed sanctions. Orban stressed that “solutions must come before sanctions". Hungary among several Central European countries is heavily dependent on Russian oil. 

The European Commission proposed these new sanctions against Russia. The proposal would require unanimous support from all 27 EU member states.

Last week the European Commission presented a plan called REPowerEU, which sets out proposals for moving away from Russian fossil fuels by 2027.