Fidesz representatives chose to leave the European People’s Party faction of the European Parliament on Wednesday, after the party passed a ruling which would have likely led to the suspension of Fidesz MEPs in the EPP group. Now Two Right Wing party groups within the European Parliament have stated that they would be happy to have the Hungarian governing party on their side.
Fidesz has not stepped out of the broader EPP party family, but their delegates in the European Parliament will now be independent of any European party.
EPP Chairman Manfred Weber said
that he regretted Fidesz’s resignation, but that rule of law issues in Hungary did not coincide with the EPP’s values. “It is about the things that are going on in Hungary,” he said, “That is the substance of the problem. It’s a provocative approach against Europe in some of the statements of Viktor Orbán.”
Government Officials Share Their Reasoning
In a government press conference on Thursday, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyás said that the European People’s Party has been dealing with pointless issues, which Fidesz has been expecting to change for a long time.
The People’s Party wishes to work together with the left-liberal factions in Europe and isn’t leaving room for parties that represent traditional EPP values, like Fidesz.”
He said one of the strongest arguments for Fidesz remaining in the EPP was the government’s good relations with the German government. Gulyás said Prime Minister Viktor Orbén, who is also Fidesz’s leader, had spoken with the head of Germany’s co-ruling CDU party before Fidesz made its decision. The party leaders had agreed that Fidesz and the CDU, as well as the Hungarian and German governments would be able to preserve and even improve their relations following Fidesz’s exit from the EPP group.
Gulyás also said Fidesz had certain non-negotiable values like the importance of national sovereignty, opposition to migration and sticking to its basic family policies.
Gulyás stressed that Fidesz would remain a member of the EPP for now and has only quit the parliamentary group, “but this indicates the direction we’re headed in”.
The PM’s chief of staff added Fidesz was certain that there was “a democratic right wing in Europe that also considered these values important.”
In an interview with pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet, Minister without portfolio for Family Affairs and vice president of Fidesz, Katalin Novák said that Fidesz could not allow for “democratically elected Fidesz representatives to be hindered in their work.”
Novák believes the EPP Group lost the most out of the event, since Fidesz, proportionately to Hungary’s population, was the party with the most support in the faction.
Still, relations between Fidesz and the European People’s Party have soured so much that a shift towards new party families must be considered.
Right Wing Prospects Welcome Fidesz With Open Arms
Fidesz MEP Tamás Deutsch told EUrologus that the decision of which faction they will join will be much easier to make by the beginning of 2022, since then the senior positions in the EP will be redistributed.
The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) a Eurosceptic European party which the Polish Law and Justice party is a member of as well, has made clear that it awaits the Hungarian representatives with open arms.
This would benefit both parties since the ECR shrank to 61 seats after Brexit, and the 12 Fidesz delegates would represent the second largest party in the ECR, after the 27 MEP Polish delegation.
Right after the separation of Fidesz from the EPP Group on Tuesday, Matteo Salvini of the Italian Lega sent a letter to Viktor Orbán, in which he emphasized Italian friendship towards the Hungarian people.
If Fidesz sides with Salvini, they would join the 76 representative far-right Identity and Politics (ID) party family, among which can be found Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, Alternative for Germany (AfD), the Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom, and the Freedom Party of Austria. Fidesz would be the third largest party in this delegation after France and Italy.
However, it is unsure if Fidesz would want to be in a faction with Le Pen. They have also been avoiding the AfD since it has been the main opponent of the CDU-CSU in Germany for years.
Despite their ideological differences, Fidesz would not want to be on bad terms with the German government, as it would risk their interconnected and valuable trade alliance.
Still, representatives of AfD have said that Fidesz’s values stand much closer to Identity and Politics than the European People’s Party, made clear in their stances on migration, identity, and national sovereignty.
Jörg Meuthen, spokesman of AfD and an MEP representing ID, said that “Europe’s patriotic and freethinking powers” need to work together.
Fidesz EPP Allies Not Yet Willing to Follow
The Slovenian People’s Party, a long time ally of Fidesz in the EPP Group, has stated that it will not be leaving the party with Fidesz.
Róbert Králik, representing The Party of the Hungarian Community, said that their party will consider following Fidesz if it chooses to leave the broader EPP party family, not just its EP faction. This decision is not a promise, however.
István Székely, representing the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ), told Azonnali regarding whether they would follow Fidesz in leaving the EPP that “we will sit down and discuss it. I don’t think it’s possible to react to news this quickly.”
Meanwhile, Hungary’s co-ruling partly KDNP, which run on a joint list with Fidesz on the EP election, has annonced that its only one MEP remains in the EPP group.
Featured photo illustration by Zsolt Szigetváry/MTI