The resolutions cite risks that Hungary may seriously violate EU basic values, and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) has been asked to prepare a report on Hungary with a view to holding an EP vote on launching the first steps of Article 7, which suspends voting rights.

The resolution, adopted with 393 votes in favour, 221 against and 64 abstentions, says the developments seen in the country over the past few years posed a "systemic threat to the rule of law".

The document calls on the Hungarian government to continue to pursue dialogue with the European Commission, amend parts of the higher education law and its asylum regulations in connection with which the EU has expressed concerns, and to withdraw a bill on the transparency of civil groups funded by foreign donors. The resolution also asks the EC to strictly monitor the use of EU funds by the Hungarian government.

The EP in addition expressed concern over what they called a "deterioration of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights" in Hungary, citing concerns over the state of the freedom of expression, academic freedom, freedom of assembly and association, the rights of people belonging to minorities, the human rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees as well as the independence of the judiciary.

The resolution says the EC's current approach to Hungary "focuses mainly on marginal, technical aspects of the legislation while ignoring the trends, patterns and combined effect of measures on the rule of law and fundamental rights; believes that infringement proceedings, in particular, have failed in most cases to lead to real changes and to address the situation more broadly."

"Hungary is a test for the EU to prove its capacity and willingness to react to threats and breaches of its own founding values by a Member State," the resolution says.

The European People's Party, the EP grouping to which Fidesz belongs, issued a "milder" resolution concerning the situation in Hungary. However, after the adoption of the draft by the Socialists and Democrats, liberals, greens and leftists, the Strasbourg plenary session did not vote on it. Out of the EPP's 216 MEPs, 67 supported the more stringent proposal while 40 abstained.

If the European Parliament submits its proposal to the European Council, a majority of four-fifths of member states would be needed to trigger Article 7. The procedure for launching what is commonly known as "the nuclear option" is multistep, and a unanimous decision by the other member states would be required to suspend voting rights. Analysts say this would be almost impossible.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto said the vote to propose invoking Article 7 against Hungary represents another attack by the network of US financier George Soros. Referring to a 2013 report criticising the Hungarian government prepared by Portuguese green EP Rui Tavares, Szijjarto said the EP vote was "instead of a Tavares report" practically about a "Soros report".

European institutions clearly cannot accept that Hungary's government resists all international pressure and focuses on the security of the Hungarian people, he told state news agency MTI. No matter "what type of pressure they want to put on us" and no matter what reports they have the EP approve, the Hungarian government will keep its focus on Hungarians' security and everybody can rest assured that "no illegal migrants will be allowed to set foot in Hungary", he added.

The opposition Socialists said the EP vote showed that Europe was "fed up with" the actions of the government. The European Parliament has sent a clear message, party leader Gyula Molnar said. The vote was the result of the government's "anti-democratic decisions", the planned law on NGOs and the "attack" against free universities.

Molnar said the process of suspending Hungary's voting rights has started, which is an unprecedented situation. The decision had been made not by Brussels and not by Soros but by the EP, with supporting votes also from conservatives. Molnar noted that the current decision does not involve any sanctions or damage for Hungarian people. From this moment, what's at stake in the 2018 elections is choosing between Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Europe, he said.

The opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) said that if Orbán remained premier next year, Hungary could "bid farewell to its EU membership". DK spokesman Zsolt Greczy said the fact that the EP resolution was also supported by MEPs of the European People's Party, the EP grouping to which Fidesz belongs, showed that Orbán was left without supporters in Europe.

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