Some 448 members of the European Parliament voted in favor of the triggering of the punitive measure against Hungary, with 197 voting against and 48 abstentions. The vote took place in the Strasbourg plenary session.
The procedure could result in Hungary being deprived of its voting rights in the Council of the European Union. The measure also opens the door for sanctions against the country. Following the EU Parliament's approval, the motion will pass on to the leaders of the EU's 28-member states.
Last year, the European Commission commenced the same procedure against Poland over its judicial reforms.
Hungary has long been critical of the European Union's open-door policy, which was initially introduced at the onset of the continent's immigration crisis, and opposed mandatory migrant relocation quotas. Budapest's stance prompted the European Commission to launch its first infringement procedure against Hungary over its asylum legislation in December 2015. Hungary, in particular, set up border fences and enhanced border controls with neighboring Serbia.