Hungary’s ruling right-wing party Fidesz has been suspended from the center-right 'European People’s Party' bloc (EPP), as growing confrontation between Viktor Orban and EU leadership comes to a head in the European Parliament.
After serious debate over Fidesz’ fate in the transnational EU bloc, the EPP has voted to suspend the party rather than kicking them out altogether as some had called for.
#Fidesz will be suspended with immediate effect and until further notice following today’s vote of EPP members (190 in favour, 3 against). The suspension entails:
▪No attendance at any party meeting
▪No voting rights
▪No right to propose candidates for posts
— Joseph Daul (@JosephDaul) March 20, 2019
While statements from Fidesz have suggested that they might quit the center-right bloc in case of a suspension, Orban struck a conciliatory tone at a press conference after the EPP vote, saying that they “voluntarily” agreed to suspend the party’s participation. In response to the creation of an independent commission reviewing the rule of law in Hungary, Orban has also appointed three officials, who will report to him on relations between the EPP and Fidesz.
Documents earlier leaked on social media revealed that the EPP drafted a plan of action aimed at forcing Fidesz’s compliance. The proposal included a list of “conditions” the organization expects the Hungarians to fulfill, including halting their “fake news” campaign against Jean-Claude Juncker and permanently abandoning such “attacks” in the future. It said that while Fidesz works to implement the demands, their membership will be suspended, barring them from voting or holding positions in the EPP.
Fidesz angered the EPP in February with an election campaign that depicted European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU bureaucracy as instruments of billionaire George Soros, serving his pro-immigration policies.
Soros is a vilified figure in his home country now, standing accused of meddling with its domestic affairs. The Central European University, a Soros-based organization, was forced to move out of Budapest due to the pressure last year.
EU officials and members of the EPP decried the Fidesz campaign, accusing the party of scaremongering and peddling conspiracy theories. Some conservative parties demanded apologies from Orban, saying his party would not have a place among EPP members without one.
The Hungarian leader stood his ground and implied that an expected electoral success of anti-immigration parties during the upcoming European Parliament election would make the bloc more accepting of Fidesz’s stance. He did however apologize for branding fellow EPP members “useful idiots” supporting their leftwing and liberal opponents ahead of the election by fueling the row with Hungary.
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