The European Parliament has voted on a resolution that demands action against Hungary, a member state, amid deep concerns about the deterioration in human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
The European Parliament's resolution, backed by 393 deputies for to 221 against, sends a strong signal to Hungary that its actions are being closely monitored.
Wednesday's condemnation of the "serious deterioration" in the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary could start a process that could theoretically lead to Hungary losing its EU voting rights.
"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 parliament said in a statement.
But the EU's rule of unanimity means the nationalist-minded government of Viktor Orban, Hungary's prime minister, is unlikely to be stripped of its voting rights as its ally Poland could veto such a move.
Since taking office in 2010, Orban has eliminated checks on his power by taking control of much of Hungary's news media, curbing the powers of the constitutional court and placing loyalists in top positions at public institutions.
The resolution specifically talks about the right of expression, academic freedom, rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees as well as the right to peaceful gatherings.
It also demands the creation of a procedure to examine whether the laws are in "serious breach of EU values".
'Shame on leftists'
One key aspect that concerns the EU legislative is the independence of the judiciary and "worrying alleged cases of corruption", said the statement.
Hungary's ruling party Fidesz reacted to Wednesday’s vote by saying it was "a shame that Hungarian leftist MPs also voted for the resolution" under alleged orders from US billionaire George Soros.
Soros, the Hungarian-born investor and philanthropist, is accused by Orban of allegedly attempting to destabilise the state via NGOs that receive financing from his foundation.
Hungary's ruling party was the target of heavy criticism in Europe because of a law that threatens to close the Central European University in Budapest that was founded by Soros and is considered one of the country's leading universities.
|People demanded the defence of Central European University in Budapest [Laszlo Balogh/Reuters]|
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies