European Parliament brands Hungary as ‘no longer a democracy’

EuroActiv Politico News

Hungary can no longer be considered a democracy, and European values are under systemic threat in the country, the European Parliament declared in a report adopted on Thursday.

At this point, the report concluded, Hungary has become an “electoral autocracy.”

The motion — which passed with 433 votes in favor, 123 against and 28 abstentions — represents yet another symbolic reprimand from the EU institutions toward Hungary, which has faced years of opprobrium over rule-of-law concerns. But Parliament’s move is unlikely to lead to any specific punishment.

In their report, Parliament members listed a range of concerns — from the functioning of the country’s electoral system to its judicial independence. They also express fears about academic and religious freedom, as well as the rights of vulnerable populations.

“We deeply regret that the lack of decisive action on the part of the European Union has contributed to the breakdown of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary, making the country a hybrid regime of electoral autocracy” said Green MEP Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, the lead MEP on the file.

Parliament is not the only EU institution at odds with Budapest.

The European Commission has been engaged in a long battle with the country over the rule of law, pressing Hungary over the alleged misuse of public funds to enrich figures close to the ruling Fidesz party. On Sunday, the Commission is expected to recommend a significant cut to Hungary’s EU funds — while also giving the country several months to find a compromise.

MEPs took the historic step of triggering the EU’s so-called Article 7 procedure against Hungary | Aris Oikonomou/AFP via Getty Images

Parliament has also long been critical of the state of Hungary’s democracy.

As early as 2013, it passed the so-called Tavares Report — named after Portuguese MEP Rui Tavares — which warned about risks to judicial independence, media pluralism, the electoral system, religious freedom and minority rights in the country.

In 2018, MEPs took the historic step of triggering the EU’s so-called Article 7 procedure against Hungary — a process used when a member state is considered at risk of breaching the bloc’s core values. That process has since stalled in the Council of the EU, which brings together officials from member states.

Thursday’s report prods the Council to take action against Hungary. The text includes the draft of a potential Council proposal stating that “there is a clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values on which the Union is founded.”