Italy's anti-migrant interior minister Matteo Salvini on Wednesday deplored the European Parliament's vote to punish Hungary's authoritarian government led by far-right premier Viktor Orban, calling the move "blackmail".
"Hungary won't give in to such blackmail and will continue to protect its borders," Salvini wrote on Facebook after the 448-197 vote by Euro MPs to sanction Hungary for flouting EU rules on democracy, civil rights and corruption.
"All my solidarity. No to sanctions and to trials of freely elected governments," read the post by Salvini, who is also Italy's deputy prime minister.
Much of Orban’s conservative European People’s Party in the European Parliament which includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats voted in favour of the motion to sanction Hungary over the rule of law.
Wednesday's vote is the first time the European Parliament has voted to take such action against a member state under EU rules.
Under Article 7 of the European Union treaty, breaching the bloc's founding principles can lead to the suspension of a member state's rights as a punitive measure.