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European Union parliament votes to stop Hungary’s ‘threat’ to democracy

European Union parliament votes to stop Hungary’s ‘threat’ to democracy

When asked for comment, a Hungarian government representative cited Palkovics' interview from June in which he had said they are "currently examining whether actual training is being performed by the CEU in the United States with the involvement of education experts". He also decried the omission of abstentions in the final tally which helped attain the needed majority in the vote.

Budapest argues that abstentions should have been counted in calculating whether a necessary two-thirds majority threshold was passed, and that consequently the vote was not valid.

In a Wednesday afternoon press conference following the resolution's adoption, rapporteur Judith Sargentini (Greens, Netherlands) told reporters that she had personally thanked Weber for making his position clear, and for showing that the European Parliament wants action and accountability.

"If there is a serious problem, and to some extent we do understand and share some concerns mentioned in the report, the right way would be to go through the European Commission and not the European Parliament, which is why we voted the way we did", Plenković said.

Following the passage of the law, which many in Hungary saw as part of the government's wider crackdown on dissent, the Budapest-based University began holding classes in the United States in partnership with New York's Bard College earlier this year.

"We welcome the European Parliament's decision to defend the rule of law and confront the Hungarian government's attempts to shut down civil society and independent voices in the media and academia", said Heather Grabbe, director of the Open Society European Policy Institute.

On 11 September, MEPs will discuss a proposal to the Council to trigger a procedure that seeks to prevent a serious breach of European Union values in Hungary. Soros has repeatedly denied the allegations. Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union mentions respect for the rule of law as one of the values the EU is founded on.

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On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted to initiate Article 7 procedures against Hungary with 448 votes in favour and 197 against.

The vote represents a particular challenge for EPP's German head Manfred Weber since he announced his bid for the presidency of the EU's executive Commission next year.

In a press conference following the successful vote for the legislative resolution, rapporteur Judith Sargentini indicated that the next steps to be taken were now unclear.

"I have nothing to compromise about since the questions they objected to were decided by the Hungarian people", Orban said Tuesday in Strasbourg, France, after the debate in the European Parliament on the report on Hungary.

Orban, who was re-elected in April to his third consecutive term in office, fourth overall also said Tuesday that he expected lawmakers to approve the motion with the support of some EPP lawmakers.

Since coming to power, Viktor Orban's government has taken a hardline stance against immigration and asylum seekers.

Opposition to Orban's vision does not just come from the left, with disquiet also in the main center-right parliamentary group, the European People's Party (EPP).