news letterOur mobile application

Weekly newsletter

Fidesz and EPP: Break up or Make Up?

Péter Cseresnyés 2019.05.28.

Today marks the start of the European Council meetings in which European leaders will meet in Brussels to discuss filling the EU’s top posts. In an interview, Viktor Orbán declared this the most important consultation regarding the future of the EU. The primary question right now is whether or not Fidesz will remain in the EPP. One thing is for certain: A lot will be decided in the coming weeks.

Following its victory, Fidesz now has to decide whether or not leaving the strongest European party is worthwhile. If so, Orbán’s party could join Salvini’s League. However, it wouldn’t play a leading role in the right-wing faction and would only be the third largest party. Joining forces with the Eurosceptic European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) might be another option. Here, Fidesz would be the second force behind the Polish Law and Justice party. Nevertheless, both scenarios seem unlikely due to the fact that neither has enough mandates to partner with the EPP or the Socialist coalition.

The Expected & Unexpected: Fidesz’s Clean-Sweep and the “New” Opposition

Given the radical right parties’ a bit weaker than expected results and the Greens’ rather strong performance, in theory, the EPP-Socialist alliance could cooperate with the Greens instead of the liberals (ALDE, En Marche).

This further emphasizes the fact that, the decision of leaving or staying might not be up to Fidesz alone. As a result, the party might end up acting as a “queen sacrifice,” paving the way for an EPP-socialist-liberal coalition. After it became clear that the EPP is still the strongest party in the EP, Weber stated, “Look, the People’s Party will be the largest group in the next European Parliament with a majority of about 26 mandates. I think it answers the question about Fidesz.” He was referring to the fact that Fidesz secured “only” 13 mandates during the elections.

Many believe there are other possibilities, however. There’s a chance that some of the EPP’s left-wing could choose to leave the faction rather than exclude Fidesz, at least that is what many in the party hope according to Népszava’s government source.

Orbán and Weber: From Total Support to Public Break-Up

Tension still very much exists between EPP candidate Manfred Weber and Orbán. Earlier, Manfred Weber said he didn’t want to obtain the presidency using the votes of “populist Fidesz.” In response, Viktor Orbán withdrew his support. Orbán also described the Bavarian politician in an interview as “no longer a conservative politician” and a “weak leader” prior to the EP election. Some surmised Orbán would back French politician Michael Barnier, but so far the party hasn’t announced any alternatives.

If the Bavarian politician were elected, it would spell trouble for Fidesz. Still, clear economic interests could override their antagonism seeing as German lobbyists (who have a fruitful relationship with the Orbán administration) could easily change the mind of “Merkel’s candidate.”

Emmanuel Macron may be a key player in events to come as he is strongly against Weber and has blackmail potential. In reference to Weber, Pascal Canfin, number two on Macron’s list of candidates, said in an interview, “In our view, Angela Merkel’s favorite candidate is totally disqualified today.”

He later added that  “the EPP will have to eject Orbán from its ranks for any coalition deal to be approved by Macron’s group.” Just to make the situation more confusing, Financial Times reported that prior to today’s EU summit, President Macron invited the V4 Prime Ministers, including Viktor Orbán, to lunch to discuss the possibility of having to retaliate against Weber’s presidency.

To make matters more interesting, Zoltán Kovács, the government spokesman for international affairs, revealed that Orbán plans to make a big announcement on Tuesday in response to the results of the EP election.

In the featured photo: MEP József Szájer, President of the EPP Joseph Daul, PM Viktor Orbán.Photo by Balázs Szecsődi/PM’s Press Office.