After nearly a decade of constant attacks against the European institutions and repeated proclamations that he wants to build an illiberal democracy in Hungary that is modelled on Vladimir Putin‘s Russia and Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his right-wing Fidesz party now find themselves on the sidelines of EU politics after delegates from the European People’s Party (EPP) voted by 190 to 3 that Fidesz will be denied its voting rights and the ability to attend party meetings for six months.
The decision was made after a long debate between the EPP’s delegates in Brussels, in which the party’s president, Joseph Daul, threatened to quit if the party was not able to find a solution to the issue of Fidesz and Orban. In a Tweet, Daul explained that Fidesz will be suspended with immediate effect and until further notice.
“Fidesz voluntarily proposed such consequences, membership will be suspended,” said Daul, who also indicated that Orban, himself, had agreed to withdraw Fidesz’s participation in the EPP in order to prevent a forced suspension.
“This is a clear decision,” added the EPP’s European Commission candidate – its Spitzenkandidat – Manfred Weber. Speaking to journalists that the suspension, Weber added that according to the text voted by the EPP members, the evaluation committee will decide “in due time” on the future of the party’s membership.
“We’ll set up an evaluation committee, with three people, chaired by (former European Council president) Herman Van Rompuy,” said Weber. “The final judgement by Van Rompuy will have an enormous political bearing,” before adding that the EPP will continue to put pressure on Hungary to join the new European Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Orban held his own press conference, jointly with European People’s Party Vice-Chair Jozsef Szajer and Orban’s chief-of-staff Gergely Gulyas in Brussels.
“Our opposition cannot get a greater gift than the debate at the EPP,” added Orban, appearing content with the EPP’s stance, as a “united front to defeat the socialists” and remain the strongest political family in the European Parliament. “From the beginning, it was clear that we couldn’t achieve the goal to get the 13 EPP parties to withdraw the letters,”
Orban went on to say that poster campaign in Hungary was not meant as a smear campaign aimed personally at Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and clarified that he and Fidesz will still back Weber for the Commission presidency and carry on with its anti-immigration election campaign aimed at promoting conservative Christian values.