EPP votes to suspend Hungary's Fidesz party

Leroy Wright
March 21, 2019

"The suspension entails: no attendance at any party meeting; no voting rights; no right to propose candidates for posts", EPP president Joseph Daul said in a tweet.

The centre-right European People's Party (EPP) on Wednesday (20 March) suspended its Hungarian member, prime minister Viktor Orban's ruling Fidesz party, and set up a committee to keep the party under surveillance and monitor if Fidesz should be expelled in the future.

The European People's Party (EPP) meet on Wednesday to decide what action to take against Orban's Fidesz after a row between the mainstream group which accuses the populist, anti-immigrant Orban of flouting the rule of law.

An evaluation commission led by former EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy will now follow developments within the Fidesz party.

Orban, a feisty nationalist who has often clashed with the European Union over his anti-immigration campaigns and judicial reforms, told the EPP delegates that his party could not accept that proposal.

"We remain committed to European values, but we also don't want migration", Orban said at a nonconfrontational news conference after the decision in which he appeared to seek to defuse the situation while conceding little.

Orban's office earlier said that if his party's membership was suspended then Fidesz will completely leave the group.

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The EPP's conditions for Orban include: withdrawing the government campaign targeting EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker (a fellow EPP member), refraining from damaging fellow parties' election campaigns, and legal certainty for the Budapest-based Central European University.

Faced with tough European Union elections in May, some EPP members are also anxious that punishing Orban will cost them support from anti-immigrant voters who back Orban's tough line.

Campaign posters for the upcoming European elections taking aim at Jean-Claude Juncker and George Soros were a particular point of contention.

Fidesz has been distancing itself for years "from Christian democratic values", he said.

EPP and Fidesz jointly decided on the suspension, according to the party's text adopted on Wednesday, giving enough space for Orban tell his voters that the EPP did not force its will on him.

"Exclusion is not off the table, it is on the table", said the EPP's Manfred Weber, who will be leading the party in European elections in May. These decisions should be reversed, it said, adding that Fidesz did not have a place within the EPP family.

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