An amendment to Hungary’s penal code was approved Tuesday with 170 votes in the National Assembly. The amendment, which was passed with unusual speed even for the Fidesz-controlled parliament, officially extends the time limit for prosecuting corruption-related crimes from five to 12 years. The bill was submitted by radical-right party Jobbik.
The vote came only two days after a signature collection campaign began for a referendum which sought to achieve that same extension to the statute of limitations. Former Politics Can Be Different (LMP) MP Gábor Vágó successfully submitted the referendum question and was preparing to collect the requisite 200,000 signatures when the ruling Fidesz party declared Sunday that it would support such a bill if submitted to the National Assembly.
As we reported earlier, Fidesz has used such tactics before to avoid the political risks associated with an opposition-led referendum. The danger of having a months-long referendum campaign focusing on Fidesz corruption ahead of the 2018 general election has now been averted.