Could Orban’s Fidesz Party Be Expelled from European People’s Party?

The number of days left in the European People’s Party (EPP) for Hungary’s Prime Minister’s political party, Fidesz might just have started the backward counting. A Hungarian government-sponsored attack on European Commission’s President, Jean-Claude Juncker failed drastically, as senior officials in EPP bashed Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban.

In the run-up to the European Union (EU) elections in May, the hard-liners are once again rising back up from the grave. Orban, for a very long period, has maintained the Eurosceptic stand, particularly against the migration issue in Europe. The government-sponsored attack was also aimed in the same direction. However, the plan failed to work out.

Following the attacks, some officials called for an apology, while others said Orban and his party should be excluded from the EPP, the core of the centre-right group that has been controlling EU politics for decades.

Orban’s government unveiled a taxpayer-financed campaign while taking a dig at Juncker, along with the Hungarian-American billionaire, George Soros. They accused officials of plotting to impose migration policies against Hungary’s interests. Ironically, the majority of the interests stated by Hungary oppose democratic policies and only look forward to covertly tightening authoritative grip on Europe.

Junker, on the another hand, speaking at an event in Brussels, condemned the move and said, “Enough is enough.” Correspondingly, even his supporters expressed anger, and suggested that Orban will have a hard time surviving by his ideology.

At this stage, as elections approach thick and fast, some party chieftains, including the EPP President Joseph Daul, have also decided to protect Orban. This may simply be because Orban’s party holds 12 seats in the European Parliament, vital for EPP’s majority and its future in the elections. However, other side of the story hints that if Fidesz is kicked out of the EPP, it might join other Eurosceptic forces.

“Parts of the speech on the State of the Nation and the poster campaign against Jean-Claude Juncker cause great incomprehension and anger in the EPP,” Manfred Weber, the party’s candidate for Commission president and leader of the group in the European Parliament, told the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, on Thursday.

“I find some of the wordings unacceptable. One cannot belong to the EPP and campaign against the current EPP Commission president,” Weber said. “That is not acceptable. I expect the CDU [the German Christian Democrats] and CSU [Christian Social Union] to look into this as well. Viktor Orban must realize that he is currently moving ever further away from the EPP.”

Though Weber has been supportive of Orban in the past, he voted in favor of a Parliament resolution to open disciplinary proceedings against Hungary. The resolution or Article 7 of proceedings, thus, cited the violations about judicial independence, corruption, freedom of expression, academic freedom, the rights of minorities and migrants, besides other issues prevailing in the nation.

However, Orban is unmoved, despite allegations from Brussels. He has stated that his notion is a protector of “illiberal democracy” and “Christian Europe,” and that his country will not bear being ruled by Western Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the most prominent figures of EPP supporting the Commission president said: “Jean-Claude Juncker has my full solidarity.”

Many EPP officials said that the group has not yet made any decision to expel Fidesz, but confirmed that the issue would be discussed at an EPP group meeting to be held next week. However, an official from EPP insisted, “We have now placed the missile on the launchpad.”

“The recent actions of Orban and his government are crossing new red lines, beyond the ones already crossed,” Swedish MEP Gunnar Hökmark wrote in a letter to Weber.

“With an anti-Semitic tone, he is attacking Brussels, the president of the European Commission, our EPP colleague Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU as a whole by portraying them as enemies of the Hungarian people.”

Hökmark added, “He neglects that all decisions taken by the EU are part of a process where Hungarian MEPs and the Hungarian government are included. It is populism of the worst kind.”

Therefore, with a strong outrage against the party, it is really difficult to see Fidesz surviving. Correspondingly, the move—if successful—would also mark defeat to Orban’s ambition of solely controlling the entire continent.

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