Today’s breach between Fidesz and the European People’s Party (EPP), Europe’s alliance of moderate conservatives, is dramatic. Rather than see his MEPs ignominiously expelled from EPP’s parliamentary delegation, Viktor Orbán made good on his threat to leave the group. Today Fidesz’s Families Minister announced in an open letter that the party’s MEPs were resigning their EPP membership.
The split is the logical outcome of Orbán’s flouting of EPP party discipline by campaigning alongside leaders of rival (far-) Right parties from other EU states ahead of May 2019’s EP elections and his public denigration of Weber — then EPP’s candidate for Commission President. Shortly after, in September 2019, he antagonised the group further by saying at a meeting of the ‘post-fascist’ Fratelli d’Italia party in Rome that he stood ‘a little to the Right’ of its leader Giorgia Meloni.
Following Fidesz’s exit, will the EPP now take more assertive steps in tackling the Hungarian Party’s challenge to EU norms? This looks unlikely in the short term. EPP’s centre of gravity, for now at least, remains in Germany’s governing CDU-CSU alliance. Close commercial links between the two countries means that Berlin has strong financial incentives to continue appeasing Fidesz or, as the CDU leaders put it euphemistically, to ’maintain a dialogue with Budapest’…
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