Hungary ‘can no longer be considered a full-fledged democracy’, says European Parliament

Hungary « can no longer be considered a full-fledged democracy », the European Parliament said in a statement following the adoption of a report on Thursday.

Parliament said the situation had « deteriorated to the point that Hungary has become an ‘electoral autocracy' ».

« Globally, [The European Parliament] Regrets that the lack of decisive EU action has contributed to the breakdown of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary and to the transformation of one of its Member States into a regime hybrid of electoral autocracy,” the report read.

“There is a growing consensus among experts that Hungary is no longer a democracy,” the report adds.

In their report, the members of parliament listed a series of concerns, including regarding the functioning of the country’s electoral system and judicial independence. They also expressed fears about academic and religious freedoms, as well as the rights of vulnerable groups, including « ethnic minorities, LGBTIQ people, human rights defenders, refugees and migrants ».

The motion, which was adopted with 433 votes in favour, 123 against and 28 abstentions, calls on the European Council and the European Commission to “give more attention to the systemic dismantling of the rule of law” in Hungary.

In particular, the The European Parliament asks the Commission to withhold European funds from Hungary.

Some right-wing MEPs criticized the report, saying it was « based on subjective opinions and politically biased statements, and reflected vague concerns, value judgments and double standards ».

« This text is a new attempt by European federalist political parties to attack Hungary and its Christian Democrat and conservative government for ideological reasons, » they said in a minority position statement attached to the report.

Citing corruption risks, the European Commission is expected to recommend later this week suspending billions earmarked for Budapest from the bloc’s 1.1 trillion euro ($1.1 trillion) shared budget for 2021-27, according to Reuters .

It would be the EU’s first such measure under its new financial sanction dubbed ‘money for democracy’ and agreed two years ago precisely in response to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, as well as its allies in Poland, reverting to liberal democratic principles inside the bloc.

Orban has been locked for years in acrimonious rows with the EU, which Hungary joined in 2004, over the rights of migrants, gays and women, as well as the independence of the judiciary, the media and the world university.

The self-proclaimed illiberal crusader, however, denies that Hungary is more corrupt than other nations in the 27-nation bloc.

The European Commission has already blocked some €6 billion owed to Budapest under the bloc’s separate Covid economic stimulus package, citing insufficient anti-corruption safeguards in Hungary’s public procurement markets.

Funds worth up to a tenth of Hungary’s GDP could be at stake if other EU members approve the Commission’s expected recommendation, a prospect that has weighed on the Hungarian forint, the country’s worst-performing currency. ‘Central Europe.

Budapest has come under pressure in recent weeks to strike a deal with Brussels and release funds for Hungary’s struggling economy, and Orban’s government has promised to create a new anti-corruption agency.

Member countries have three months to decide on the Commission’s recommendation and they could limit the sentence if they find Budapest’s actions convincing in the meantime.

But on Friday, Orban called the European Parliament’s statement a « boring joke ».

“Regarding the decision of the European Parliament, we believe that it is in the realm of (a) joke. We’re not laughing because it’s a boring joke,” Orban said through a translator after a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Reuters reported.

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