EPP group leader Manfred Weber visited Budapest today. He began his day at CEU before discussing Fidesz’s EPP membership with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Prior to the politician’s arrival, a poster-war broke out between the government, which covered its own controversial billboards, and the opposition, which tried to draw Weber’s attention to the missing posters.
Earlier, Manfred Weber explained that the termination of Fidesz’s EPP membership could be avoided if three conditions were met. Weber required that Prime Minister Orbán “immediately and permanently end his campaign against Brussels.” The government promised that it would replace the billboards this month. Last week, PMO Head Gergely Gulyás verified that billboards promoting the government’s family policy will replace the inflammatory campaign.
Prior to Weber’s visit, such posters lined the highway leading from Liszt Ferenc Airport to the city. However, last night, most were covered by blue posters and family policy promotions. As a result, Manfred Weber was unable to see the billboards on his way to his meeting with the Prime Minister. 444.hu reported that plenty of Juncker-Soros posters could still be spotted elsewhere in the capital and the countryside.
Meanwhile, activists from the Socialist Party altered the government’s posters, replacing Juncker’s face with Weber’s:
In a video, the activists stated: “He (Weber) will get a little taste of Hungarian reality. We trust that he will make a good decision today when talking to Viktor Orbán.” However, the alterations didn’t elicit the success the Socialists were hoping for. Their billboard and other campaign posters were swiftly painted over prior to Weber’s arrival.
Weber began his visit to Budapest at the Central European University’s campus in the 5th district. Here, the office of the rector was decorated with posters created by the student activists of the Szabad Egyetem (Free University) Movement:
The poster, resembling the Hungarian government’s controversial campaign against Brussels, says people have the right to know ‘where the EPP’s red line is.’ Besides Weber, the poster has the pictures of Donald Tusk, Angela Merkel and Sebastian Kurz on it.
Momentum Movement also sent a message to the EPP leader via the covered billboards. Spokesperson Miklós Hajnal spray painted English sentences addressed to Weber, such as “a day ago this was hate propaganda” and “Juncker was here.” The party also urged the EPP Spitzenkandidat to “grow some balls.”
The posters refer to the fact that more than a dozen EPP member parties have officially called for Fidesz’s exclusion. The European People’s Party is scheduled to discuss the matter next week on 20 March.
Weber’s Budapest Visit: A Make or Break Moment for Fidesz and EPP?
Prior to his visit, Weber claimed he is merely coming to Hungary because Fidesz is clearly on its way out of the EPP and the dispute is not about “a conflict between East and West or migration policy,” but about the fundamental values of the EPP and the European Union. The politician insisted that the EPP will not “force Fidesz to stay” if it does not wish to.