Donald Tusk, president of the European People’s party, said at an EPP meeting in Brussels on Monday that the party group’s ad-hoc body of so-called ‘wise men’ has completed their report on the situation in Hungary and the party has decided to keep Fidesz suspended for the indefinite future.
The Evaluation Committee was created after Fidesz’s suspension from the EPP back in March to monitor and assess whether the Hungarian governing party meets the democratic values laid down in the official documents of the People’s Party, namely whether they have respect for the rule of law, EPP values, as well as the implementation of the EPP emergency resolution on “Protecting EU Values and Safeguarding Democracy.” The committee is chaired by former Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy (Belgium), and its members include former European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering (Germany), and former Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel (Austria).
Tusk has indicated that he saw little prospect of Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán and his ruling Fidesz party regaining active membership. He added that he did not have high hopes for a “visible improvement.” He told the political assembly that
“… if the situation does not change, I cannot see Fidesz returning to our family, at least as long as I am the president of the EPP.”
The majority of EPP party leaders backed Tusk’s decision. Some members of the party family even wished to exclude Fidesz, such as Finland’s Kokoomus. However, there are members who do not want the EPP to lose the seats in the European Parliament that Fidesz brings. According to Politico, this decision signals that the EPP is continuing to struggle with how to address ideological divisions between its moderate and right-wing factions.
At the same time, Hungarian MEP György Hölvényi of the co-ruling Christian Democrats (KDNP), told Hungarian journalists that the dialogue within the European People’s Party will continue concerning the membership of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party, adding that Fidesz’s “voluntary suspension” of its membership would stay in effect.
Hölvényi said that according to Tusk, there was no consensus between the three politicians “concerning the outcome of the evaluation,” but they agreed that Fidesz should remain suspended and dialogue should continue. They also accepted a proposal to hold a congress in the first half of next year concerning the EPP’s values. Asked whether a dialogue concerning Fidesz would be on the agenda of the proposed congress, he said: “Naturally, and this is something which we may be proud of.”