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Coronavirus Pandemic Postpones EPP Decision on Fidesz

Péter Cseresnyés 2020.04.07.

The EPP will not decide the fate of Fidesz in the foreseeable future as the coronavirus crisis not only makes it physically impossible for hundreds of people to gather for a political assembly, but European politicians are also facing many more urgent tasks, Eurologus reports.

The Political Assembly of the European People’s Party is responsible for deciding either the exclusion or suspension of a member party, but it will meet only after lifting the restrictions on movement due to the coronavirus epidemic, EPP President Donald Tusk’s communications team said to Eurologus.

Right now, it is virtually impossible for participants from all 68 member parties of the EPP to travel at all and safely hold an event for hundreds of people.

PMO Chief: Epidemic Response Law Fulfils Criteria of Rule of Law

As the portal points out, even with the most optimistic estimates, it could take months until political life can resume in Brussels.

Meanwhile, the tension between Fidesz and some members of the EPP has once again flared up.

Last year, the Hungarian governing party was suspended from the party family to undergo an investigation as to whether it has breached the values of the EPP and rule of law.

13 EPP Member Parties Call to Expel Fidesz Due to Violation of EU Values with Epidemic Bill

But a week ago, EPP President Donald Tusk told members of the People’s Party they would soon have to reconsider whether to expel Fidesz, but only after the current epidemic has passed. The next day, according to the Financial Times, Orbán wrote a letter to Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, president of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), accusing Tusk of sowing seeds of division within the center-right political grouping and playing domestic political games.

Also last week, in a joint letter addressed to EPP President Donald Tusk, thirteen members of the European People’s Party called for Fidesz to be expelled after the much debated epidemic response law was accepted, granting extraordinary powers to Viktor Orbán.

New Law Granting Enhanced Powers to Orbán Gov’t Garners International Outcry

According to the signatories, the law is a clear violation of the principles of liberal democracy and European values.

In response, Orbán addressed a letter to Antonio Lopez-Isturiz White, secretary-general of the EPP on Friday, stating he would be open to discussing any issue once the epidemic was over, but until then, he would use all his time to take measures aimed at protecting lives and saving the economy. “With all due respect, I have no time for this,” Orbán emphasized.

Coronavirus & Expulsion: Orbán Sends Letter to EPP

However, it doesn’t seem the situation will be addressed in the long run either. As Eurologus points out (although for various reasons), the majority of the People’s Party still does not want to expel Orbán and his party.

Most of the 13 party members demanding Fidesz to be expelled are the same as those who have argued before that the Hungarian ruling party has no place in a Christian-Democratic party family, such as the EPP. These are mostly Scandinavian and Benelux political blocs, with 1-3 votes in the assembly.

Also, the more influential parties like the Spanish People’s Party(PP), Forza Italia, and three other smaller Italian parties did not support this initiative. In addition, they are traditionally considered Orbán’s allies.

Featured photo by Balázs Szecsődi/MTI