Friday, 16 November, 2018

'Neo-fascist... blackmail... coward' - Europe's Parliament erupts

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Gerardo Duncan | 14 September, 2018, 18:32

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he supported the European Parliament's decision on Wednesday to open a punitive procedure against Hungary for persistently flaunting democratic rules.

"All my solidarity. No to sanctions and to trials of freely elected governments", read the post by Salvini, who is also Italy's Deputy Prime Minister.

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.

With 448 votes in favor, 197 against and 48 abstentions, MEPs adopted the report prepared by Ecologist MEP Judith Sargentini, this being the first time that the EU co-legislator calls for the activation of the so-called Article 7 (Treaty of Lisbon) of a Member State of the European Union.

Orban plans to deliver a "frank and outspoken" defence of his stance before the European Parliament, which will decide whether to start steps that could lead to political sanctions against Hungary.

"They are now preparing revenge against Hungary because the Hungarians decided they will not become an immigration country", Orban said before arriving in Strasbourg.

Among other consequences, the country could be stripped of its vote in the European Council.

Several non-governmental organizations targeted by the Orban government with restrictive rules - including a special tax on activities considered as promoting immigration and the criminalization of the aiding of asylum-seekers and refugees - also hailed the vote's outcome.

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.

If approved, the motion would theoretically open the way for sanctions such as a suspension of Hungary's voting rights in the European Union - but in practice that is sure to be blocked by Orban's ally, the nationalist government in Poland.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban vowed, pn September 11, 2018, to defy European Union pressure to soften his hardline anti-migrant stance, condemning what he called the "blackmail" of his country. "You think you know better than the Hungarian people what the Hungarian people need".

But a party spokesman said the group was divided about 50-50.

Polish politician Michal Boni said a vote on article 7, the law that would suspend Hungary's voting rights, was needed to "pour cold water on hot populist heads". This marks the first time the European Parliament has taken that step, though Poland faced similar action from the European Commission a year ago.

Dutch anti-Islam campaigner and MP Geert Wilders described the vote on Twitter as "a bloody shame". But Orban remained steadfast that his policies wouldn't change.

Verhofstadt went on to say that Orban was not his country, and that Hungary was "far more eternal" than Orban's far-right government.

Also on Tuesday night Orban also faced the prospect of his party being kicked out of the right-wing party group in the European parliament. "They made it clear that human rights, the rule of law and democratic values are not up for negotiation", she said.

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