MEPs from the European People’s Party are one step closer to excluding Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party from their group after agreeing on new suspension rules.
This is reported by Politico, citing its sources.
The rules, agreed at a closed meeting on Friday by the group’s leader, Manfred Weber, and the heads of the EPP’s national delegations, will allow the group to suspend the entire party, not just one MEP.
The rules are expected to be approved by the required two-thirds majority at the group’s meeting next Wednesday.
Following the introduction of the new rules, several officials and MEPs said they were confident that the group would vote to suspend the membership of the 11-member Fidesz faction, although a date for such a vote has not yet been set.
If both votes go against Fidesz, it will be an important moment in the relationship between the Hungarian party and the center-right European political family. Relations have long been uneasy due to attacks by Fidesz officials on EPP leaders and policies, as well as concerns about the rule of law in Hungary. But the two sides have so far stuck together in the European Parliament.
Fidesz has been barred from membership in the EPP since March 2019, but its MEPs remain part of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, despite attempts by some centrist members to kick them out.
In December, the EPP sanctioned Tamas Deutsch, the head of the Fidesz faction in parliament, for comparing Weber’s comments to the slogans of the Gestapo and Hungary’s secret police.
Previous attempts to exclude Fidesz from the parliamentary faction or to completely exclude it from the EPP party alliance have failed due to reluctance to take action from members of the German Christian Democrats (CDU) and its sister Bavarian CSU party.
Asked about Fidesz last month, the new CDU leader, Armin Laschet, predicted difficult negotiations but did not say clearly whether he would support the Hungarian party’s exclusion from the EPP.