The European Parliament has voted to pursue unprecedented disciplinary action against Hungary over alleged breaches of the EU’s core values.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has been accused of attacks on the media, minorities, and the rule of law – charges which he denies.
More than two-thirds of MEPs backed the censure motion – the first such vote against a member state under EU rules.
If also approved by national leaders, Hungary could face punitive measures.
The ultimate sanction, the suspension of Hungary’s voting rights, is unlikely as Poland is likely to veto any such move.
The BBC’s Nick Thorpe in Budapest says Mr Orban appears increasingly isolated among European conservatives but is being applauded by nationalist parties.