Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban gestures during a debate concerning Hungary's situation as part of a plenary session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France on September 11, 2018. / AFP / FREDERICK FLORIN
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The European Parliament voted Wednesday to sanction Hungary for flouting EU rules on democracy, civil rights and corruption in an unprecedented step that left Prime Minister Viktor Orban isolated from powerful allies.Delivering more than the two-thirds majority required as many of Orban's allies in the conservative party deserted him, the vote, however, has little chance of ending up with the ultimate penalty of Hungary being suspended from voting in the EU.But the 197 votes cast against the parliament's first bid to launch the punitive process of the EU treaty's Article 7 highlighted the substantial minority of European opinion who see Orban as a crusader for the rights of nation states and ethnic majorities against rules of civic behavior agreed in Brussels.Since sweeping to power in 2010, Orban, once a campaigner against Hungary's Soviet Communist overlords, has used his parliamentary majority to pressure courts, media and non-government groups in ways his opponents say breach EU rules.
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