After Tamás Deutsch compared the EPP’s insistence on the rule of law criteria to communist and Nazi-like methods, certain EPP officials kick-started a signature drive aiming for the expulsion of the Fidesz-founder MEP from the biggest European party family. Deutsch says he is being attacked for political reasons.
It was Deutsch’s reaction to EPP group chairman Manfred Weber’s comment over the Fidesz-led Hungarian government’s veto due to the rule of law criteria that triggered harsh reactions within Fidesz’s European party family.
In response to Manfred Weber’s “if you have nothing to hide, you don’t have to be afraid [of the rule of law mechanism and checks]” when he asked Orbán to support the rule of law criteria, Deutsch, a politician of Jewish origins, said “I well remember that the Gestapo and the ÁVO [ÁVO/ÁVH was the dreadful Communist secret police in Hungary, operating until 1956] had the same slogan.”
This, however, went down rather badly with the EPP, and while some demanded an apology, others began to speak of the Fidesz founder MEP’s expulsion. Hungary’s larger ruling party’s membership is at the moment suspended in the biggest and most influential European party family after strong disagreements about the party’s base values. The Hungarian government’s veto being the only one side to go against the budget and recovery package within the EPP, only added fuel to the conflict (Polish ruling party PiS is in another grouping).
Relations between Fidesz and Weber began to go downhill when Weber openly took a stance by accepting the Sargentini report. Then in the wake of the government’s controversial billboard campaign depicting George Soros with EC leader at that time Jean-Claude Juncker, he was the one to come to Budapest, describing three conditions that Fidesz must fulfill if they wanted to keep their membership in the EPP. Weber also supported Fidesz’s suspension, while Fidesz on the other hand, turned its back on Weber and retracted their support for him in his run for the EC’s leadership. Moreover, Weber is also a loud supporter
of the rule of law mechanism.
Recently, a signature drive has been kick-started aiming for Deutsch’s expulsion from the EPP. According to left-wing daily Népszava, one of the initiators was Austrian MEP Othmar Karas, and the signatories want the EPP to vote on Deutsch’s expulsion as early as December 9th. The official initiative letter says that comparing their support for the rule of law to the Nazi and communist methods is an insult for all the EPP, while comparing the EU to Nazi or communist oppression is a “blatant” and “intolerable distortion of historic facts” and an “insult and vilification” of the dictatorships’ victims.
“The difference between Europe’s darkest days and of communism and Nazism and our European Union of today is precisely this: the rule of law, independent judges, freedom of speech and media, and protection from arbitrariness and cronyism. We all agree that the assessment, if something is in line with the rule of law or not, must not be made by politicians and journalists, but by independent judges.”
According to Deutsch, however, he is being attacked for his opinion and continued on with the communism parallel. He told pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet that “[while] thirty years ago the Communists locked me up in Prague, now certain people in Brussels would lock me out. This is [what happens] when one stands up for freedom and his homeland. If this exclusionary initiative does exist, that would be a cruel joke and perfectly demonstrates why this penal mechanism in preparation should be rejected by all means. They would want to do the same with Hungary, that some are now planning against me. They would punish us for political reasons.”
In addition, he also spoke of double standards when recalling that (EPP president and former president of the European Council) Donald Tusk once compared Orbán’s Hungary to Germany of the 1930’s. He also speculated that this initiative could be Brussels’ revenge for Hungary’s veto.
featured image via Noémi Bruzák/MTI