Prime minister Viktor Orbán – Photo: PMO

EPP suffers from a "leadership and political crisis", PM says

Orbán: EPP sees reviewing internal regulations as most pressing task during pandemic

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Sunday sent a letter to Manfred Weber, the head of his ruling Fidesz's party family in the European Parliament, slamming the European People's Party for "seeing the review of internal regulations as their most pressing task during a pandemic." Fidesz will leave the EPP if the party group votes in favour of the changes accepted by the leadership on Friday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Sunday.

Fidesz’s membership in the EPP was suspended in March 2019, due to the Hungarian party’s critical stance and “alleged violation” of EPP values.

The EPP’s leadership and national delegation heads on Friday accepted a proposal which Orbán said would “facilitate excluding our MEPs from the party family.”

In the letter, Orbán said the EPP had been suffering from a “leadership and political crisis for a long time”. Fidesz proposed “a return to the heritage of [EPP founder and former head] Wilfried Martens”, who Orbán said successfully united right and centre-right parties of various ideological and geographical backgrounds, and brought Christian right wing parties of post-communist states into the party family.

Since 2019, the party kept promising “deep internal discussions” about the party’s future, Orbán said.

He noted his December 6 letter to Weber where he proposed a new, looser type of cooperation. “The promises have not been kept, and my letter has not been answered,” he said.

Instead, the EPP tabled a motion to rewrite internal regulations “with record speed and a view to easing the exclusion of our MEPs, or if this proposal didn’t get the necessary majority, they would cobble together a legally questionable way to exclude our elected representatives from the party family,” Orbán said.

“The message is clear and easy to comprehend,” Orbán said. “If Fidesz is not welcome, we do not insist on remaining members of the party group,” he said.

Orbán noted that the coronavirus pandemic had claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Europeans and the third wave was hitting the bloc, “taking a terrible toll in human lives and causing unprecedented economic damage.” Such times call for cooperation, joint action, tolerance and patience, he said. “It is hard to understand and accept” that Weber and the EPP group find the review of long-standing regulations their most pressing task, he said.

Additionally, retroactively changing regulations or imposing sanctions is, “in our interpretation”, contrary to the rule of law, Orbán said. He said the recent amendments were “tailor-made to punish Fidesz”. “Since you could not collect enough votes to punish us, now you are trying to change the rules and expand them to an ongoing procedure,” he said.

As Fidesz’s leader, Orbán said he had the duty to ensure full representation of their voters. Therefore, he said he could not accept the curbing of MEPs rights necessary to fulfill their duties. Such a step would be “profoundly anti-democratic,” he added.

Fidesz MEPs have been elected by over 1.8 million Hungarians, or 52 percent of the votes, he said. They are the strongest delegation in the EPP in that regard. “Sidelining our MEPs would be equivalent to ignoring nearly two million Hungarian voters and would further weaken our political family,” he said.

Should the EPP vote in favour of the regulations accepted by the leadership and the heads of national delegations on Friday, Fidesz will leave the EPP, Orbán said.

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