European Union votes overwhelmingly to take action against Hungary for undermining democratic norms

European Union votes overwhelmingly to take action against Hungary for undermining democratic norms

Although Brussels and Budapest have repeatedly clashed over immigration and refugee policy, the vote on Wednesday addressed broader concerns with the state of democracy and rule of law in Hungary.

Even some members of the European People's Party bloc - which Orban's Fidesz movement belongs to - voted against their ally in Budapest.

It was the first move of its kind in the European Union against a member state, garnering two-thirds of the votes.

If the motion passes it would be the first time the European Parliament votes to take steps under article seven of European Union treaties, which could ultimately deny Hungary its EU voting rights.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers a speech during a debate concerning Hungary's situation as part of a plenary session at the European Parliament on September 11, 2018 in Strasbourg, eastern France.

"You said it was the attack in Hungarian society and the Hungarian government, said in defence of Orban, Polish conservative MEP Ryszard Legutko".

Eventually, it would be up to the other 27 European Union states to decide on what to do with Hungary should the parliament's first-ever such vote pass.

But Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs claimed in a tweet that the motion had failed because the overall vote did not receive the support of two-thirds present.

For years, Orban has successfully deflected much of the worldwide condemnation about Hungary's electoral system, press freedoms, independence of the judiciary, mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees and limitations on the functioning of non-governmental organizations, but criticism has been growing even within the European People's Party, to which his Fidesz party belongs.

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The European Parliament is expected to vote on a sanctions procedure that would suspend Hungary's right to vote in all European Institutional bodies, a potential move that caused Orban to lash out at the lawmakers.

"Do you Hungarians know better, they need inquired of the deputies of Orban".

"This is a historic result for Hungarian citizens and for European citizens everywhere, that the European Parliament has voted by a large majority to stand up for the values we all hold dear", Ms Sargentini said.

"The truth is that the verdict has already been written", Orban said. This marks the first time the European Parliament has taken that step, though Poland faced similar action from the European Commission past year.

Hungary said it would seek legal ways to challenge the 448-197 vote it described as "petty revenge".

Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch anti-immigration Freedom Party, called the vote - which also weighed on Hungarian assets - "a bloody shame".

"To say that criticizing laws, criticizing the government would amount to criticizing a nation or a people, frankly speaking Mr. Orban, that's the coward's way out", Timmermans said near the end of the debate. But Orban remained steadfast that his policies wouldn't change.

The report said Orban's government had sought to increase its influence over judges and courts, was suppressing dissenting voices including in the media, and was responsible for widespread fraud and corruption in public projects.

There is disquiet in the main center-right parliamentary group, the European People's Party (EPP), about his position, despite it including his Fidesz party.

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