Unless he decides to quit, Viktor Orbán will remain in the European People’s Party (EPP) for at least one more year as the centre-right group’s assembly yesterday did not find the proper majority to expel the Hungarian Fidesz party.
The membership of Orbán’s Fidesz party in the EPP was temporarily suspended before the EU elections due to alleged violations of the rule of law.
A number of EPP member parties wanted Orbán out, including EPP chief Donald Tusk. However, they faced strong opposition from the Slovenian, French, and Spanish centre-right as well as the Bavarian CSU.
“Punishing the most successful party in the group would not make any sense,” Slovenia’s former Prime Minister Janez Janša said at the EPP Congress in Zagreb last November.
EPP sources told EURACTIV that in his speech, Tusk said that the situation with Fidesz membership had deteriorated since its suspension.
The sources said that almost the entire meeting was dedicated to Orbán’s future in the EPP and that Tusk was aggressive in his speech.
Tusk said he would present specific proposals about the case in the next assembly in April and hinted that an extraordinary congress may be held early next year to make final decisions.
EPP members, such as the Scandinavians, wanted Orbán out saying his policies do not represent EPP values anymore.
Critics suggest that Tusk did not want to put the case to a vote as this could put the unity of the EPP at risk. In addition, the EPP would lose another prime minister in the EU Council.
Yet, the EPP feared that by expelling Fidesz, it would eventually lead the Hungarian party to the hands of rising ultra-right leaders such as Italy’s Matteo Salvini and Polish PiS. However, Orbán has already started flirting with these leaders and it’s not unlikely that he will leave the party by himself.
Last February, The Capitals reported that the EPP would ultimately protect Orbán fearing he might join the far-right.