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Gulyás: Fidesz Expects EP Shift on Anti-Immigration After Elections

Fanni Kaszás 2019.02.14.

“Ruling parties must have a strong enough mandate both at home and at a European level in order to protect their borders,” said Gergely Gulyás, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office in an interview with Hungarian daily Magyar Hírlap. Gulyás discussed the upcoming European Parliament election, the balance of forces in the EP and the future of Fidesz’s membership in the European People’s Party (EPP).

In the interview, Gulyás explains that democratic political communication aims to be comprehensible and simple. However, there is a deeper meaning behind this statement, particularly where migration is concerned. The rejection of migration is both a political call and a social policy program dealing with the concept of sovereignty, the demographic program, the protection of national culture and equality between men and women.

Gulyás spoke about the upcoming EP elections as well, saying that Fidesz is preparing a “calm and vigorous” campaign. While this is important, the government must also carry out day-to-day tasks and make pressing decisions, including the elaboration of the family protection plan recently announced by the Prime Minister.

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Gulyás expects the EP to become more diverse and believes the European election will result in a “shift in emphasis” in favor of the political factions which “support European unity but oppose immigration and reducing the powers of member states.” He foresees it being more difficult to govern Europe after the EP elections because “there is no realistic chance that the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Socialists will be the majority in the next five-year cycle.”

However, he said that Fidesz must remain in the EPP despite all the controversy because the EPP is the strongest party in the European Parliament and Fidesz is its most powerful member. Therefore, it’s of mutual interest that the EPP not move in a liberal direction. He thinks that the German CDU—which regularly criticizes Fidesz—also has an interest in the party’s membership as it’s the strongest representative of Christian-Democratic ideals.

Gulyás added that the past several years have shown that Fidesz and the Christian Democrats are the most effective in representing Hungary in the European Union and argued that the opposition parties “have sworn to support immigration, but would surrender to the EU’s [migrant] quotas.”

In regards to Fidesz’s place in the EPP, Gulyás noted his party’s “readiness for compromise.” The party supported EPP group leader Manfred Weber’s candidacy for European Commission president despite his criticism of Hungary. Gulyás explained that “the member states have such different opinions about the European Union that it’s difficult to find a better solution. So, we have to strive to make a decision that is best for the country in the given situation.” He added that although they believe Weber is best suited to the job, it doesn’t mean they agree with him on all matters. He also expressed uncertainty regarding Weber’s ability to secure a parliamentary majority. “We’d consider it unfortunate if the EPP’s lead candidate would commit to a pro-immigration, green, left-liberal direction in advance,” Gulyás said.

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In reference to the EP debate on the relocation of Central European University (CEU), the establishment of administrative courts and the amendment of the Labor Code, Gulyás said the government rightly chose not to participate in the plenary session. He claimed that only Judith Sargentini and Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the European Commission, wanted the debate. Therefore, Gulyás said

it wouldn’t have made sense for the party to treat the frivolous, weightless and primitive debate as a serious matter by attending.

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