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Internal pressure grows for EPP to expel Fidesz

Mar 1 2019

By LILI BAYER AND HANNE COKELAERE – POLITICO

4 parties call for Hungary’s ruling Fidesz to either be kicked out or suspended from center-right bloc.

Four national parties within the European People’s Party urged the political group’s president Thursday to either expel or suspend Hungary’s Fidesz from the center-right bloc.

Three parties signed a letter to EPP President Joseph Daul asking for Fidesz’s expulsion — the Flemish Christian Democrats (CD&V), the Walloon Humanist Democratic Center (cdH) and Luxembourg’s Christian Social People’s Party (CSV), Luxembourgish MEP Frank Engel confirmed to POLITICO.

The fourth party, Portugal’s CDS-People’s Party, said it wrote to the EPP presidency, calling for Fidesz to either be expelled or suspended.

The letters follow the Hungarian government’s decision to launch a public campaign against European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, a senior member of the EPP.

“Whoever continuously goes against [the] Christian-democrat ideology and values, doesn’t have a place with us,” CD&V leader Wouter Beke tweeted when announcing the letter his party signed.

According to Portuguese newspaper Expresso, the CDS-People’s Party letter refers to internal problems caused by Fidesz within the EPP, which have “clearly and purposely broken the union” of the political family and its common objectives.

The differences that separate them “are too crucial to be maintained” and therefore deserve a response from all parties that make up the EPP, the Portuguese party added.

The Dutch Christian Democratic Appeal also said Thursday that its chairman told Daul there should be a discussion on Fidesz’s “position” within the group.

“Due to recent developments, we have to conclude that informal discussions with Fidesz no longer have the desired effect,” said CDA Chairman Rutger Ploum.

While tensions have been growing for months within the center-right bloc over Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s party, leading members of the EPP are now publicly questioning Fidesz’s future in the group.

Sweden’s Moderate Party recently indicated it will seek to have Fidesz expelled, while Finnish National Coalition Party leader Petri Orpo tweeted earlier this month that “those of us who are #EPP members, will consider the next steps in evaluating the EPP membership of Fidesz.” 2/28/19.

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Ivo Oliveira contributed reporting.This story has been updated 3/1/19, 1:55 PM CET

 Related:

Commission hits back over Hungary’s anti-Juncker campaign

By LILI BAYER – Politico 

Viktor Orbán has blamed Jean-Claude Juncker for endangering Hungarians.

The European Commission on Thursday published a formal reply to the Hungarian government’s campaign against Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Hungarian-American businessman George Soros.

The campaign, which includes advertisements, billboards, and a letter from Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to every citizen, claims that the Commission is threatening Hungarians’ security.

“The European Commission agrees, citizens do deserve to know the truth about what the EU is doing,” the Commission wrote.

“But we believe they deserve fact not fiction. The Hungarian government campaign distorts the truth and seeks to paint a dark picture of a secret plot to drive more migration to Europe. The truth is that there is no conspiracy. The Commission would therefore like to set the record straight, point by point,” it added.

“The claims made by the Hungarian government are at worst downright factually incorrect or at best highly misleading. And none of it has anything to do with George Soros,” the Commission emphasized in a document (in English and Hungarian) debunking seven Hungarian government claims.

Orbán defiant as conservative critique grows

Brussels is under the control of a ‘pro-migration majority,’ Hungary’s PM says in weekly interview.

The Hungarian government’s responsibility is to inform citizens of Brussels’ migration plans, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Friday in response to criticism of his campaign against European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The government this week launched a taxpayer-funded campaign, including street billboards, newspaper ads, and videos, attacking Juncker and Hungarian-American businessman George Soros. The campaign has reignited an intense debate within the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) over the membership of Orbán’s Fidesz party in the political group.

Brussels is under the control of a “pro-migration majority,”Orbán said in his weekly interview on state-owned Kossuth Rádio, accusing Juncker directly of advocating for the legalization of migration to Europe.

Accusing the “Brussels elite” of not being used to criticism, Orbán drew a comparison with the Habsburg Empire, telling listeners that “it is not possible to go into a campaign like we’re in the end of the 19th century at the time of Franz Joseph and say that everything is really nice, everything is very good, I’m happy with everything, while one of the world’s biggest economies left the European Union, and in the meanwhile millions of migrants entered the European Union.”

“For this somebody has to bear responsibility, and the truth is that the responsibility lies with the leaders of the European institutions,” Orbán said, adding that “it was in the Soviet times when it was not possible to speak about what the situation is like. The situation is bad,” he said.

EU decision-makers “all want to increase migration,” he said, warning that migration means Europe would no longer belong to Europeans. Brussels is “not even arguing with us” about the veracity of the campaign’s concrete points, he noted — though the European Commission earlier this week released a point-by-point rebuttal of the campaigns’ claims on migration policy.

Asked about an expected meeting of the EPP next week, Orbán said “we are prepared” to argue over the points of the campaign. He did not address the issue of his ruling Fidesz party’s membership in the group. 2/28/19

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