The European People’s Party has tolerated the Hungarian leader’s authoritarianism for too long
ON JUNE 16TH 1989 Hungarians gathered to rebury Imre Nagy. The liberalising prime minister’s overthrow had prompted the uprising against Soviet rule 33 years before. In Heroes’ Square in Budapest they placed flowers and wreaths around his coffin as Viktor Orban, a 26-year-old leader of the Young Democrats (known as Fidesz), proclaimed that the Soviet Union had forced Hungary into a “dead-end Asian street” and that communism and democracy were incompatible. Fidesz would later become a political party and help lead Hungary’s post-communist modernisation. So impressed was the European People’s Party (EPP), the grouping of European centre-right parties, that it wooed Mr Orban away from the liberal bloc—sending representatives to Budapest to persuade him to switch, which he did in 2000.
That feels like a long time ago. In his second spell as prime minister, since 2010, Mr Orban has battered Hungary’s young democracy: changing the constitution to cow judges, taking over the press, clamping down on civil society, manipulating elections and propagating anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about George Soros, a Hungarian-born billionaire whom he accuses of plotting to flood the country with migrants. He has routinely trampled over red lines laid down by the EPP, yet still the group has coddled him, cheering his election victories and dismissing calls to expel Fidesz. The EPP warned Mr Orban not to pass a law curbing NGOs’ independence and not to force the Budapest-based Central European University (CEU), founded by Mr Soros, out of the country. He did both last year. No sanction followed.
Orbán: Hungary’s Fidesz could consider alliance with Polish ruling party
By Lili Bayer -POLITICO
Prime minister says he would however rather stay in and reform the European People’s Party.
Hungary’s ruling party will discuss an alliance with Poland’s conservative Law and Justice if it leaves the center-right European People’s Party, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Friday.
“Pro-migration politicians attacked us in the European People’s Party,” the prime minister told state-owned Kossuth Rádió. These politicians want to transform the EPP into a “pro-migration international organization,” he added.
“If it turns out that we need to start something new in Europe, and it’s possible that this will be the end of the debate, that our place is not ultimately in the [EPP] but outside it — though I would rather achieve the [EPP’s] transformation [and] reform, for example, that there would be place in it for anti-migration forces like us — but if there’s a need to start something new, then obviously the first place where we will negotiate is Poland,” Orbán said.
Members of the European People’s Party are set to discuss the membership of Orbán’s Fidesz in the center-right bloc on March 20, after a dozen parties called for its suspension or expulsion.
“We have multiple options,” Orbán told listeners, noting that it will be Fidesz deciding whether to stay or leave the EPP.
“There are big discussions going on,” the prime minister said, revealing that he spoke with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker earlier this week, as well as the EPP’s leader in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber and other leaders. There will be another conversation with Weber, he said.
The prime minister said that he will travel to Poland on Sunday for a NATO event and that Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will visit Hungary on March 15, a Hungarian national holiday, and will give a speech in Budapest.