Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has withdrawn his backing for Manfred Weber, the German-born lead candidate for the post of president of the European Commission for the European People’s Party (EPP) after Orbán claimed that Weber repeatedly insulted Hungary.
Orbán said he would not back the EPP’s top choice, or Spitzenkandidat, to lead the Commission, if Weber refused to support Hungary’s ruling party, Fidesz.
The EPP has suspended the Orbán-led Fidesz from the centre-right political family after Hungary officially launched a smear campaign against the current European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker.
Both Fidesz and Orbán previously had a close relationship with Weber’s Bavarian Christian Social Union and initially supported his candidacy to succeed Juncker.
Weber, however, recently made comments on German public broadcaster ZDF, where he tried to play down his previous ties to Fidesz saying, “I do not want to be elected by the far right … I want to make clear that the centre is the dominant force, not on the fringe.”
Orbán is now pushing for the EPP to embrace and work with more staunch conservative politicians, saying the Austrian model, where a conservative-populist party, the Freedom Party of Austria, governs as part of a coalition with the centre-right Austrian People’s Party.