Hungarian democracy is alive and well, we are succeeding in our fight against the novel coronavirus, Minister of State for International Communication and Relations Zoltán Kovács stressed in an opinion published in the US newspaper The Washington Post on Saturday.

The Minister of State responded to an earlier opinion piece by George Will, one of the newspaper’s columnists. On 31 May, in an article entitled ‘Is American conservatism becoming un-American?’ Mr Will wrote of an American conservative drift towards authoritarianism and cited Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán as an inspiration.

“Mr Will wrote that Mr Orbán is the ‘destroyer of Hungary’s democracy’ who has ‘extended direct or indirect control over courts and the media,’ Mr Kovács quoted the article published earlier. He then pointed out that “In our democracy, the press is indeed lively and critical, the courts are independent (see the Supreme Court decision just last month in a prominent Roma segregation case, a ruling that contradicted the government’s position), and opposition candidates still win elections”.

“Voter turnout in Hungary’s 2018 parliamentary election topped 70 percent, the highest since 2002. That’s hardly an indicator of a destroyed democracy,” the Minister of State wrote.

Mr Kovács quoted the US columnist’s claim that the Hungarian Prime Minister has seized upon the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to impose a ‘dictatorship’.

“The government called for a state of emergency entirely consistent with the provisions of our constitution, even giving parliament more say in the extraordinary measure, and the prime minister says it will come to an end on June 20.”

At the same time, he drew attention to the fact that thanks to these extraordinary measures, the government was able to take swift action with restrictions on movement and support to the health-care system that helped us avoid the levels of infection and death tolls we see elsewhere in Europe.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)