European Parliament votes to punish Hungary for erosion of democracy

Opposition to Orban's vision does not just come from the left as there is disquiet in the main centre right European People's Party, about his position despite the grouping including his Fidesz party

Opposition to Orban's vision does not just come from the left as there is disquiet in the main centre right European People's Party, about his position despite the grouping including his Fidesz party

If passed by a two-thirds majority, it could, eventually, result in Hungary losing its voting rights in the Council, although such a move would require unanimity among the other 27 member countries, something that would likely be very hard to achieve.

The European Parliament was debating whether Hungary should face action over its policies on migration, the media, corruption and civil society that opponents say are against the EU's democratic values and the rule of law.

"Do you want the rule of law?" demanded Sargentini, a left-wing Green MEP from the Netherlands.

The Sargentini report details a long list of "concerns" regarding violations of European Union freedoms and values in the press, universities, minorities, migrants, and corruption and the independence of the judiciary.

Orban defended his country's politics, saying they were the will of the people not just the government.

The right to the european Parliament, meeting within the EPP group, is "facing its ambiguities", said Wednesday, Marine Le Pen on the day of a vote in the european Parliament on a procedure for the Hungary of Viktor Orban, accused of violating EU values.

Former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt.

But Hungary's case is the first time that the EU Parliament is considering calling for the launch of the sanctions process for a member state because of a perceived threat to EU values.

However, a unanimous vote is required to suspend Hungary's voting rights and launch sanctions - a move that is likely to be blocked by Poland.


It is also not clear whether Sargentini's push will win the necessary two-thirds support of the assembly.

While Orban's actions have provoked opposition, they have been applauded by populists in the European Union, with prominent far-right figures floating the idea of forging a pan-European alliance ahead of next year's elections.

Before the vote, Prime Minister Viktor Orban called the proceedings on the Article 7 an "insult" to his nation, accusing the "pro-migrant majority" of targeting Hungary for its reluctance to become a "country of migrants".

"Hungary will protect its borders, stop illegal migration and defend its rights", Orban said, accusing European Union elites of wanting to punish Budapest for its anti-migrant stance.

"In today's historic vote, the European Parliament rightly stood up for the Hungarian people and for the EU. We see them as Muslim invaders", Orban told a German newspaper. He has also expressed his desire to remain within the EPP, which he said was "deeply divided" on the issue of migration.

The German MEP now serves as the head of the center-right EPP in the European Parliament.

The liberal-versus-populist battle has split Europe at the highest levels.

The EPP group, the largest in the parliament, on Tuesday evening, held a meeting with Orban, after which their leader, Manfred Weber announced he would vote in favour of launching the procedure.

"We are not going to leave the EPP", Orban said. Orban has emerged as a figurehead for far-right politicians and there is speculation that he could form a new fraction with the likes of Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

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