Sargentini Report divides public opinion in Hungary

MEPs backed the Sargentini Report during a vote Wednesday which could result in Hungary’s voting right being suspended. This historic step represents a major blow to the Fidesz government but could also serve as the core for its next campaign.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava
Sargentini Report divides public opinion in Hungary

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Viktor Orban, 2018, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

The EU has had enough of the populist right-wing government of Viktor Orbán. We have long known that, but now that the EU parliament backed the Sargentini report with a two-thirds majority, it is official.

Even some of Orbán’s allies turned their back on him: 115 MEPs from the conservative European People’s Party voted yes.

The vote has divided public opinion even among those who are critical of the Orbán government. Some are happy that the EU formally acknowledged that democracy and the bloc’s core values -- such as the rule of law and human rights -- are under threat in Hungary.

Others, however, fear that the government will not shy away from implementing even more extreme policies now that it is officially the “bad guy” of the EU. The Hungarian people will bear the brunt of the government’s response, they say.

In any case, we are facing a turbulent period. The government will most likely frame the procedure as a war in which it will defend Hungary at any cost. Ahead of the European elections it could serve as the perfect campaign message.

Details from the story:

  • The breakdown of the vote is the following: 448 MEPs voted yes, 197 voted no.
  • Although the European Parliament triggered to vote Article 7 sanctions against Hungary on Wednesday, the process is quite long.
  • The report bears the name of the Dutch MEP, Judith Sargentini, who is a member of the Green Left.
  • The report cited concerns about: abuse of migrants, consititutional concerns, attacks on freedom of the press, corruption and conflict of interest, attacks against privacy and data protection, attitutdes towards women, and concerns over the electoral system.
  • “I am so proud that my Hungary report has the support of the European Parliament, but this is foremost about the rights of Hungarian citizens” -- wrote Sargentini on Twitter.
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