Strasbourg — The European Parliament on Wednesday launched an action that could unleash unprecedented political sanctions against Viktor Orban’s populist Hungarian government for posing a "systemic threat" to the EU’s founding values. The move dealt a political blow to Prime Minister Orban, who had told the parliament a day earlier that a scathing report leading to the vote was an insult to Hungary’s honour and people. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto wasted little time in slamming the vote as "nothing less than the petty revenge of pro-immigration politicians". With elections for a new parliament in May 2019, the vote reflects growing pushback among traditional parties in Europe against the rise of populists, who oppose migration and are accused of undermining the rule of law. Adopted by 448 votes for to 197 against and with 48 abstentions, the motion marked the first time the parliament has itself initiated steps under article seven of the European Union’s treaty. An ear...

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