European Union lawmakers on Thursday said that Hungary’s nationalist government is deliberately trying to undermine the bloc’s democratic values and they deplored the failure of the 26 other EU countries to take action that would bring the country back into line.
In a resolution that passed in a 433-123 vote, with 28 abstentions, the parliamentarians raised concerns about Hungary’s constitutional and electoral systems, judicial independence, possible corruption, public procurement irregularities, LGBTQ+ rights, as well as media, academic and religious freedoms.
The lawmakers also condemned “the deliberate and systematic efforts of the Hungarian Government to undermine the founding values of the Union.”
The vote is highly symbolic in that it sets Hungary apart from other EU countries in its alleged failure to uphold values enshrined in the EU treaty like “respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.”
But the vote, which came during a plenary session in Strasbourg, France, doesn’t impose any penalty on Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government, nor does it bind other EU countries into taking any particular action.
In their resolution, the lawmakers said that the Hungarian government — which Orban characterizes as an “illiberal democracy” — has become “a hybrid regime of electoral autocracy.” In part, they blame EU member countries for this, for turning a blind eye to possible abuses.
Lawmakers opposing a report that contains the resolution said that it contains “subjective opinions and politically biased statements, and reflects vague concerns, value judgements and double standards.”
Still, Hungary has long been on a collision course with its European partners. It has routinely blocked joint statements, decisions and events. These range from high-level NATO meetings with Ukraine, to an EU vote on corporate tax, and a common EU position on an Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire.
The government in Budapest has opposed some EU sanctions against Russia, notably a freeze on the assets of Russia’s Orthodox Church patriarch, as well as energy-related measures against Moscow.