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From Friends to Foes: European Politicians React to Fidesz’s EPP Suspension

Gábor Sarnyai 2019.03.21.

After a tedious political struggle, Fidesz’s suspension from the European People’s Party (EPP) was made official following yesterday’s vote. The Hungarian PM and his party have long been at the center of controversy, so it is only natural that many European politicians have come forward to readily express their thoughts on recent events. 

From now on, Fidesz will not be allowed to participate or vote in party meetings nor nominate candidates for positions within the EPP. For the duration of the investigation, Fidesz will have no say in the future politics of the EPP.

‘Three Wise Men’ to Monitor Whether Fidesz Meets EPP’s Conditions

Several other EPP leaders commented on yesterday’s vote: Gunnar Hökmark, a Swedish MEP who called for Fidesz’s expulsion, described it as a “crucial step” that has “clarified that Fidesz is not compatible with the EPP.” Others saw the move as the first step towards Fidesz’s exclusion. According to Politico, MEP Frank Engel, chairman of Luxembourg’s Christian Social People’s Party, said, “I think that this was what the vast majority of the EPP could support.”

President of the German CDU Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the alleged mastermind behind the “suspension compromise,” welcomed the decision as she thinks Fidesz has been given the opportunity to demonstrate that “it shares the values of the EPP” and prove “whether trust on this basis is possible in the future.” At the same time, she “ensures that Fidesz has no influence on the EPP’s policy direction until it is clear.”

Meanwhile, Orbán’s long-time ally, Silvio Berlusconi, appeared pleased with the decision. The Italian EPP politician believes

this is the best solution for both the EPP and Fidesz”

as it keeps the party group together and leaves enough time to resolve the situation.

Opposition on EPP Suspension: Defeated Fidesz Is on the Way Out of EPP, EU

Guy Verhofstadt, Leader of the ALDE group, called the move “a political trick that shames Europe.” Verhofstadt said in a statement that

This stitch up shows the EPP will always put parliamentary numbers ahead of the collective European interest”

Ska Keller, a lead candidate for the Greens in the European election, said EPP members “have shied away from any clear decision.”

“This suspension seems to be an attempt to buy time ahead of the elections. But that won’t work. The defense of rule of law and European democratic values cannot be compromised through political tricks,” she assured.

Euroskeptic Italian leader Matteo Salvini said he found the procedure absurd as the Hungarian Prime Minister merely “protects the rights, prosperity, work and safety of his people,” emphasizing his friendship with “Viktor Orbán and the Hungarian people”.

MEP Laura Ferrara, on behalf of the Five Stars Movement, called the decision a “ridiculous compromise.” The politician does not consider Orbán a friend because she believes Fidesz’s position in the European Parliament and Council conflicts with the interests of Italy and Italians.

featured photo illustration by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI