Strasbourg, Sept 12 (CTK) – The positions of the 21 Czech MEPs were split in the EP vote today that comfortably passed a recommendation for the EC to start a procedure against Hungary over a serious threat to EU values, the first ever such recommendation the EP has passed against an EU member.
The resolution was supported by 448 MEPs, while 197 voted against it and 48 abstained from the vote.
Out of the 21 Czech MEPs, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) Pavel Svoboda, Michaela Sojdrova and Tomas Zdechovsky voted against the recommendation, as did Civic Democrats (ODS) Evzen Tosenovsky and Jan Zahradil, Jiri Payne (Free Citizens’ Party), Jan Keller (for the Social Democrats, CSSD) and Communists (KSCM) Jaromir Kohlicek, Katerina Konecna and Jiri Mastalka.
Unlike them, the step was backed by Czech members of the European Liberals faction elected for the ANO movement: Dita Charanzova, Martina Dlabajova, Petr Jezek and Pavel Telicka, and also by Stanislav Polcak (Mayors and Independents, STAN)), MEPs elected for TOP 09 Ludek Niedermayer, Jiri Pospisil and Jaromir Stetina, and CSSD MEP Miroslav Poche.
Another CSSD MEP, Pavel Poc, abstained from the vote.
The last Czech MEP, Olga Sehnalova (CSSD) does not figure on the list of voting MEPs. She probably did not take part in the vote.
Svoboda said afterwards that he voted against, though originally he planned to abstain from the vote.
Unfortunately, the EP passed none of the proposals softening the report on the situation, which is in fact less black-and-white, and that is why the EU should not resort to an “atomic bomb”, which the launch of a procedure based on the Lisbon Treaty’s Article 7 would be, Svoboda said.
On Tuesday, Hungarian PM Viktor Orban dismissed the reproaches his government faces over violations of democracy and the rule of law. He told MEPs that the EP wants Hungarians to be punished for refusing to transform their homeland into a country of immigrants.
In a preceding debate, Orban faced criticism for restricting courts’ independence, the freedom of media and civic society in Hungary, and for corruption and alleged misuse of EU subsidies in favour of his allies.
The anti-Budapest sanction procedure might theoretically lead to Hungary being stripped of its voting rights, but observers do not expect the issue to go that far.