The European Parliament on Wednesday voted in favour of kick - starting disciplinary action against Hungary that could see some of the central European nation's voting rights restricted for failing to abide by the EU 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, the BBC reported.
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.
Since coming to power, Orban's government has taken a hardline stance against immigration.
It introduced a law which made it a criminal offence for lawyers and activists to help asylum seekers, under the banner of "facilitating illegal immigration".
But there have also been reports of pressure being put on the courts and the electoral system, and of widespread corruption.
Budapest and Brussels have been at loggerheads since Orban's government took measures to block migrant entries into the nation at a time when all EU member states were obligated to meet migrant quotas.
Orban's government has also been the target of sharp criticism for its perceived clampdown on civil liberties and his campaign against Hungarian - American billionaire philanthropist George Soros, whom the Prime Minister has accused of using NGOs and activist groups to orchestrate mass migration into Hungary.
In a video message to supporters on social media on Tuesday before taking part in a plenary debate at the Parliament, the nationalist - populist said he would defend the rights of Hungarians who did not want Hungary to become "an immigrant country".