The government is declaring a state of emergency in view of the armed conflict in a neighbouring country, starting from midnight on May 25, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a video posted on Facebook, hours after parliament approved another amendment to the Fundamental Law.
The tenth amendment to the constitution that Orban rammed through in 2011 gives the radical rightwing government the power to declare a state of emergency in the case of an armed conflict, war, or humanitarian disaster in a neighbouring country.
The government argued that it needs necessary room for manoeuvre to allow the government to react immediately and use all available tools to defend Hungarian families.
The new legal order paves the way for the cabinet to bypass parliament in adopting decrees, as during the pandemic. The Hungarian prime minister promised to disclose the first decisions under the new legal order on Wednesday.
"We have seen that the war and sanctions from Brussels have brought about a great economic upheaval and drastic price rises. The world is on the brink of an economic crisis. Hungary has to stay out of this war and has to protect the financial security of families," Orban argued, adding that there is "no end in sight" to the war in Ukraine.
"This war presents a continuous danger for Hungary, it puts our physical security at risk and endangers the economy as well as the energy supply and material security of families," he said.
Opposition parties argue that the government abused its power when it ordered special legal orders during the pandemic. The government used the state of emergency to ban strikes and the termination of work contacts of healthcare workers and that of the armed forces, and to delay the disclosure of public data.
Healthcare representative groups warned of an exodus from public health service once the decree that restricts staff from leaving their posts jobs expires on May 31.
Speaking ahead of the oath-taking ceremony of his fifth government, Orban said Hungary needs a feisty, responsible government that unites the country while showing the necessary strength. The new cabinet's tasks are outlined by "dangers and especially the war".
The fifth Orban government will have 11 ministers and three ministers without portfolios.
The new names include former MOL chairman-CEO and Hungary’s ambassador to London Janos Csak, who will head a new cultural and innovation ministry. The 59-year-old economist will also be in charge of family policy, culture, higher education, vocational training and innovation.
Introducing Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky, the new defence minister, Orban said Hungary’s Zrinyi defence development scheme could make Hungary’s military one of the most competent in the region. The war next door “shows how irresponsible it was to have the military and defence take a back seat on the continent”, the prime minister said.
Szalay-Bobrovniczky, the husband of government spokeswoman Alexandra Szentkiralyi, raises a serious conflict of interest as he owns a majority stake in Czech-based Aero Vodochody aircraft manufacturer, which has recently signed a contract with the state to sell 12 aircraft to the state. The businessman acquired the Czech company from a €150mn loan from state development bank MFB, 80% of which was backed by a state guarantee.
Former cabinet chief Janos Lazar will head the new ministry of construction and investment. He has been tasked with ensuring that state resources spent on investments are used efficiently, renewing construction regulations and protecting built heritage, the prime minister said.
Orban said he expected of Marton Nagy, minister without portfolio responsible for economic development and the PMs economic advisor, to "help Hungary’s development with innovative economic policy decisions rooted in Hungarian logic even if some of them will not help him make friends".
Former EU commissioner Tibor Navracsics has been appointed minister for regional development and the utilisation of EU funds. He has the best chance of holding his own "between the mill wheels of Brussels bureaucrats and Hungarian MEPs", he added.