EU Parliament votes to trigger Article 7 sanctions procedure against Hungary - DW

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The European Parliament took unprecedented action against Hungary on Wednesday, voting to censure the country's government for violating European Union values and spurring concerns about the health of its democracy.

Two-thirds vote by Members of the European Parliament could trigger Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty, suspending Hungary's voting rights as a rebuke for "anti-migrant" policies.

For years, Orban has successfully deflected much of the global condemnation about Hungary's electoral system, media 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.

Orban was in Strasbourg to respond to members of the European Parliament who, meeting for their first plenary session since the summer break, were debating whether to recommend a disciplinary procedure known as Article 7 against Hungary.

In response to the motion being passed, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called the vote "petty revenge" against Hungary for its tough anti-migration policies.

There were 448 votes in favour of triggering Article 7, with 197 votes against and 48 abstentions.

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Thomas, who says he recently had heart surgery, has hit out at his daughter for cutting him out of her life since his mistake. The elder sister went on to add , "She owes my father a lot of love and respect".

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.

Orban said his government had sent all the MEPs an 108-plus page rebuttal of Sargentini's "false" charges.

"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".

Previous year the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, launched similar steps under article seven against Poland over its alleged threat to the independence of the courts.

And Timmermans told Orban "if you want to be a member of a club you have to abide by the rules", saying the Commission would take Hungary to court if it found it had violated European Union rules.

After the vote, Sargentini thanked her colleagues for standing up "for the protection of democracy and the rule of law, above their interest in party politics".

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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.

The experts called on Hungary to "refrain from engaging in practices that are threatening fundamental civic freedoms, in particular, the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, association, as well as the principle of non-refoulement and the ban on incitement to hatred and discrimination", and encourages European institutions to continue applying pressure on the Hungarian government.

But Weber, a close ally of Merkel, also spoke of "building bridges" with Hungary and noted the EU's failure to take action in a similar rule-of-law case against Poland.

The EPP membership has muted European Union reaction to Orban's policies over the years and the big question mark is how the group's 217 members will act when the vote is held on Wednesday.

"Orban is a hero and deserves the Nobel Prize".

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