Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party is leaving the European People Party’s (EPP) faction in the European Parliament, the Hungarian prime minister announced on Wednesday (3 March), after years of disagreements with the conservative group, which was preparing to vote on their suspension.
However, its status in the EPP party, where it has been suspended since spring 2019, remains unclear and EPP sources told EURACTIV Fidesz has not notified the party secretariat of its intention to leave.
“I hereby inform you, that Fidesz MEPs resign their membership in the EPP Group,” Orbán wrote to EPP group leader Manfred Weber after an overwhelming majority of the group’s MEPs adopted new rules paving the way for the suspension of Orbán’s party.
The amendments to rules of procedure were adopted by an overwhelming majority on Wednesday morning, while French, Italian, Slovenian, Hungarian and Croat members voted against, according to EPP sources.
Fidesz has been suspended from the EPP since spring 2019 but so far their lawmakers continued to enjoy the rights and privileges as members of the EPP’s European Parliament faction, representing the political family’s positions and aligning their votes accordingly.
According to Orbán, the “amendments to the rules of the EPP group are clearly a hostile move against Fidesz and our voters.”
“Our MEPs will continue to speak for whom they represent, our voters, and defend the best interest of the Hungarian people,” he added.
We will not let our MEPs be silenced or limited in their capacity to represent our voters. Tackling the pandemic and saving lives remains our number one priority. Therefore, following the adoption of new rules in the @EPPGroup, #Fidesz has decided to leave the Group. pic.twitter.com/WSx1PmtKQ8
— Katalin Novák (@KatalinNovakMP) March 3, 2021
If Fidesz were to stay in the EPP, this would result in an unprecedented situation where a national party that is a member of the EPP would not be part of the political family’s group in the European Parliament.
According to EPP sources, it would be possible for Fidesz to join the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR), a Eurosceptic party with 61 MEPs in the European Parliament, while still remaining within the European People’s Party.
Unless they decide to walk out themselves, the procedures might be quite complicated, as they require an in-person party meeting and a formal vote on the future of Fidesz in the EPP party, which may be difficult during the pandemic.
So far, it is unclear which group Fidesz’s 12 MEPs could join, but this could alter the balance of political sources in the Parliament. Fidesz can also remain in the non-attached factions as long as it desires.
Rumours in Brussels suggest that Orbán is winking at the ECR.
In a letter, seen by EURACTIV, that Orbán sent last week to Italy’s nationalist party Brothers of Italy, a member of the ECR, the Fidesz party leader had asked for cooperation between the two parties.
The move was taken as yet another indication that he might be eyeing to join ECR, especially considering that it is home to Orban’s close political ally, the Polish ruling party Law and Justice (PiS).
The letter was addressed to Giorgia Meloni, the leader of Brothers of Italy, and president of the ECR. “We need reliable battle comrades who have a common vision of the world and give similar answers to the challenges of our times,” Orbán wrote.
“I hope that the cooperation between Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Alliance and the Brothers of Italy will continue in the future and that we will be able to maintain our friendly relations based on the policy of common sense, on Christian and conservative values,” Orbán concluded.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]