Critical mass building for motion to expel Orbán from EPP

File photo. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (R) shakes hands with Chairman of the European People's Party (EPP) group of the European Parliament Manfred Weber during their meeting in the Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary, 11 September 2015. [Szilard Koszticsak/EPA/EFE]

A critical mass is likely to be reached within days to put the expulsion of Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party from the centre-right European Peoples Party (EPP) to a vote. The decision could be taken ahead of a crucial meeting on 20 March.

As the climate between Budapest and Brussels reaches an all-time low, national parties affiliated to the EPP are rebelling against their European leadership and sending letters to EPP President Joseph Daul asking for Fidesz to be expelled.

With the May European elections drawing closer, national parties fear the campaign could be contaminated by constant questions about Orbán’s affiliation to the European centre-right political family.

In the end, EPP member parties fear this could cost them dearly in terms of parliamentary seats.

Technically, the motion to expel Orbán’s Fidesz could be put on the agenda either by Daul himself, of by 7 national members representing at least 5 countries.

And according to reports, the critical mass is building.

Two parties from Belgium and one from Luxembourg signed a joint letter to Daul yesterday (28 February): the Flemish Christian Democrats (CD&V), the Walloon Humanist Democratic Center (cdH) and Luxembourg’s Christian Social People’s Party (CSV).

In addition, the Dutch CDA and CDS of Portugal announced their support for the move.

The first to mobilise were the Scandinavians, who are holding inter-party consultations with the view of adopting a common position.

On 20 March, the EPP will hold its political assembly. According to the official agenda, they will discuss the Spring European summit. However, the main issue is expected to be the motion to exclude Fidesz from the group.

Fidesz, meanwhile, is preparing to counter the move. Two of Orbán’s most trusted party fellows, Gergely Gulyás and Zoltán Balog, met with Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the chief of Germany’s CDU, in an attempt to win her support.

The Hungarian secretary of state for international communication and relations, Zoltán Kovács, said recently that Fidesz doesn’t want to leave the EPP, but rather transform it from the inside. He argued that the centre-right force had become too liberal, something he said was “wrong”.

At the end of the day, the CDU’s stance on the matter could be decisive. At the moment, the EPP does not want to expel Orbán because this might push him into the arms of the far-right, a CDU politician recently told EURACTIV.de.

[Edited by Frédéric Simon and Samuel Stolton]

EPP protects Orbán for now, fearing he might join far-right

The EPP does not want to raise tensions with its ‘bad boy’ Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán because this might push him towards joining Italian populist Matteo Salvini or even far-right Marine Le Pen, a Christian-Democrat (CDU) told EURACTIV.de.

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