Hungary's Orban vows to defy European Parliament over rights

European Parliament votes to punish Hungary for erosion of democracy

Mitsotakis's party, New Democracy, is in the same conservative bloc in the European Parliament as Orban's, the European People's Party (EPP).

Mr Orban has for years deflected much of the global condemnation of Hungary's electoral system, media freedoms, independence of the judiciary, mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees and limits on the functioning of non-governmental organisations.

Using unprecedented disciplinary action, the European Parliament voted Wednesday to sanction Hungary, saying the country poses a "systemic threat" to democracy and the rule of law.

The Hungarian foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, called the vote "petty revenge" against his country's tough anti-migration policies.

Voting 448 in favour, 197 against and 48 abstentions, the motion passed in the Strasbourg plenary session. If the abstentions were counted into the final tally, there would have been a total 693 votes, so the 448 in favour wouldn't have reached two-thirds.

He also said Hungary would seek legal ways to challenge the ruling as abstaining votes were not counted, and this, he said, changed the outcome of the vote.

With the vote, the EP endorsed the report of Green MEP Judith Sargentini, which said recent developments in Hungary represent a systematic threat to democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in the country and constitute a clear risk of a serious breach of European Union values. "The Hungarian people deserve better".

"The decision was made in a fraudulent way, and contrary to relevant rules in European treaties", he told Reuters.

The same procedure is already underway against Poland, this time triggered by the European Commission.


"I have always been in favour of building bridges and I want to continue to do so, but yesterday [Tuesday] I didn't see any readiness from the Hungarian PM to make a move towards his European Union partners and address our concerns", Weber tweeted.

Since sweeping to power in 2010, Orban has pressured Hungary's courts, media and non-governmental groups, as well as refusing to take in asylum seekers arriving in Europe.

On Tuesday, Orban said his country was being targeted for choosing not to be "a country of migrants" as he dismissed charges of corruption.

The vote means the other European Union states must now look at what to do with Hungary.

Hungary suffered a sharp rebuke from MEPs today who voted overwhelmingly to impose sanctions against Viktor Orban's government amid claims that it has undermined human rights.

Orban has insisted that all of the criticism against his government is based on Hungary's tough anti-immigration policies, which include fences built in 2015 on Hungary's southern borders with Serbian and Croatia to divert the flow of migrants and very restrictive asylum rules.

All the applause for the Hungarian leader on Tuesday came from the far right of the chamber, notably among supporters of France's Marine Le Pen and the UK Independence Party.

Hungarian officials were quick to condemn the vote.

'Orban is a hero and deserves the Nobel Prize, ' he said.

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