Hungary's Orban denounces 'blackmail' over European Union censure move

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

Lawmakers will vote Wednesday on a proposal to launch the rule-of-law procedure, based on a report by the European Union parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, that could lead to Hungary losing its European Union voting rights under a process known as Article 7.

Eight Bulgarian MEPs, including five from the European Popular Party, EPP, one from the Socialists and Democrats, S&D, and two from the Conservatives and Reformists group, ECR, opposed the motion.

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

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.

If also approved by national leaders, Hungary could face disciplinary action.

Addressing the parliament ahead of Orban, Greek leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said: "Pro-European forces have a duty to stand side by side". Orban might have lost some key allies as EPP lawmakers said their caucus meeting showed many would vote in favor of Article 7.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has told European Parliament that Brussels' actions against Budapest "violates the EU treaty".

Orban has faced worldwide condemnation over Hungary's electoral system, violations of press freedoms, undermining the judiciary, Islamophobia and the mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees, and limits on the functioning of non-governmental organisations.

Orban said in a video posted on Facebook that European Union parliamentarians who support migration "are preparing for revenge against Hungary, because Hungarians have decided they will not become an immigrant country".

Orban has said the mostly Muslim refugees pose an existential threat to Europe's Christian civilisation. "We should not let Europe slide back to the past".

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

Even Orban's fellow migration hardliner, Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, unexpectedly said his party's five European lawmakers would vote against Budapest. "The start of a dialogue based on Article 7.1 could be needed", Manfred Weber told the chamber on Tuesday. The group of leftists and greens in the assembly said "Orban's authoritarian moves must be curbed".

In July, the EU executive body warned it could take Budapest to the European Court of Justice over laws under which anyone assisting an undocumented migrant could be jailed for a year.

The motion against Orban's Hungary goes well beyond the migration issue.

Tory politicians have been accused of an "absolutely shocking" attempt to prop up Victor Orban's far right movement in the European Parliament.

Recent developments in Hungary have led to a serious deterioration in the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights which is testing the EU's ability to defend its founding values, the report found.

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