In a tense vote, a majority of EU lawmakers backed a motion that opens the door to sanctions against Hungary. Orban’s government is accused of silencing independent media, targeting NGOs and removing independent judges.
Members of the European Parliament voted to censure the Hungarian government on Wednesday for eroding democracy and failing to uphold fundamental European Union values, dw.com reports.
The measure to trigger Article 7 sanctions procedures garnered the necessary majority needed to pass, with 448 voting in favor of the motion, 197 against and 48 abstentions. The move means that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government could eventually lose its EU voting rights.
Prior to the vote, it was unclear how many members of the conservative European People’s Party (EPP) bloc, the largest political group in the European Parliament, would support the measure. Although Orban’s Fidesz party is part of the EPP, several of the lawmakers voted against their Hungarian allies.
Speaking to European lawmakers on Tuesday, Orban described the vote as an act of revenge against Hungary for refusing to take in refugees under an EU-wide resettlement quota scheme. 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.
Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty opens a path for sanctions against a member state and a temporary loss of EU Council voting rights. The mechanism is triggered when one of the bloc’s members violates the vales of “human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.”