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PM Orbán warns Fidesz may quit EPP group

March 3rd, 2021

Commentators express diametrically opposing views about the prospect of Fidesz leaving the People’s Party group within the European Parliament.

In a letter to Manfred Weber, chairman of the European People’s Party on Sunday, Prime Minister Orbán wrote that Fidesz will leave the party group if the EPP approves new internal regulations that would enable the EPP to suspend a whole party rather than simply individual MEPs, and could do so by a simple majority instead of the two thirds of votes required under current rules. The text was however slightly amended by the EPP leadership on Monday night, leaving the possibility of the mass expulsion of a party’s MEPs intact, but requiring a two-thirds majority for this to take place. That amendment didn’t reach the dailies before they went to print.

Magyar Hírlap’s Mariann Őry finds it reasonable for Fidesz to quit the EPP group if the new rules come into force. The pro-government commentator believes that Manfred Weber wants to punish PM Orbán even if by doing so, he significantly weakens the EPP. (Pm Orbán didn’t support Weber’s candidacy for President of the European Commission in 2019.) Őry finds it a shame that in the midst of the third wave of the pandemic, the EPP is wasting time on such business rather than concentrating all its energies on containing the pandemic.

In Népszava, Tamás Rónay writes that Prime Minister Orbán threatens quitting the EPP group to stave off humiliating suspension by fellow MEPs.  The left-wing columnist interprets the EPP’s proposed new suspension rules as clear indication that the party group wants to get rid of Fidesz which, according to Rónay, violated basic EU norms and wants to reintroduce dictatorship in Hungary. Rónay suspects that after quitting the EPP, the Fidesz will lose influence, and seek partnership with Eurosceptic parties.

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