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Hungary Adopts Controversial Monetary, Religion Laws


Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's center-right Fidesz party holds a two-thirds majority in parliament.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's center-right Fidesz party holds a two-thirds majority in parliament.

Hungary's parliament has adopted a law that critics say could undermine the independence of its central bank.

The measure, which increases government influence over monetary policy, prompted the European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to walk out of talks earlier this month on a possible bailout for Hungary worth between 15 billion and 20 billion euros ($20 billion-$25 billion).

Lawmakers passed other measures that threaten to leave the country isolated, including a law on religion that lowers the number of recognized religions in Hungary to 14 from more than 300.

These include the Catholic, Reformed, Evangelical, and Orthodox Churches as well as Judaism.

Faiths not included in the bill -- including all Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu congregations -- will have the opportunity to apply for recognition in parliament if they have been operating for at least 20 years in the country.

But they will need to obtain approval from at least two-thirds of MPs for the recognition in order to receive state subsidies.

A number of changes to regulations has triggered criticism at home and abroad about the threat to democracy in the former communist EU state where the center-right Fidesz party holds a two-thirds majority in parliament.

Many opposition deputies stayed away from the December 30 vote.

compiled from agency reports

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