The decision of the European People’s Party to suspend Fidesz’s membership for the time being could be a humiliating decision and a clever trick at the same time. However, according to journals all over the world, Viktor Orbán still wants to be part of the family, which is seen as cold and calculating political manipulation.
The news of the week certainly seems to be that Hungarian ruling party Fidesz was suspended from the European People’s Party, so close to the European Parliament elections. It was heavily featured in the media in Hungary and abroad as well – reports Privatbankar.
According to the German paper, Die Welt, the European People’s Party humiliated Orbán with their decision. The conservative German daily newspaper explained that now, Fidesz no longer has rights in the party but still has to support it.
“Orbán always says that he is a proud Hungarian, but as such, he never should have accepted such humiliation and instead should have put a stop to it on his own. But since this is not what had happened, it suggests that Orbán desperately needs the EPP and still wants to use the conservative party connected to many important heads of state as a power base. He does not want to stand in the dirty corner with Le Pen and the others.”
According to Die Welt, the EPP should have expelled Fidesz a long time ago, as the Hungarian government’s actions have not been in accordance with the party’s fundamental values, as shown by numerous investigations. Nevertheless, the EPP decided to set up another committee to investigate keeping to the fundamental values.
On the other hand, Die Welt also praised Manfred Weber for this brilliant trick.
The paper explained that this decision suggests authority and a strong stance towards Orbán’s politics while giving Fidesz the chance to make changes and re-join the party at the same time.
It is not necessarily clean, but certainly a smart decision when it comes to power politics.
The BBC also dedicated some pieces to the Hungarian situation. According to Nick Thorpe, the Budapest correspondent, it is cold political calculations that led Orbán to still want to hold on to the EPP membership. First of all, most Fidesz voters are pro-EU.
“Many Fidesz voters fear that falling out of one European institution – the EPP – would be the first stumble on a slope which would lead to Hungary falling out of the European Union altogether.”
Thorpe also added that this way, the Hungarian government can still use the EPP as a platform for their anti-migrant rhetoric. And, depending on how the anti-migrant parties perform in the elections in May, they may choose to leave the EPP completely and join them instead.
The New York Times
The New York Times also dedicated some time to dwell on Hungary’s current situation in the EU. According to the influential paper, Orbán has been building a soft dictatorship within the EU for the past nine years, and the EPP has been enabling him. It was also mentioned that, due to the suspension, they could still count on Fidesz members to draw votes away from populist right-wing politicians.
What went down
The immediate suspension of Fidesz was widely supported, with 190 votes for it and only three against it. According to official statements, the decision was jointly made by the EPP and Fidesz.
The issue had to be dealt with because 13 members suggested the suspension or even expulsion of Fidesz from the EPP.
This means that Viktor Orbán cannot attend the usual meetings of the EPP, there cannot be a Fidesz politician in any of the positions within the EPP and they cannot express their opinion about the future policies. At the same time, an investigative commission has been set up that will monitor Fidesz policies and the happenings of the country. Until they finish carrying out the investigation, the membership of Fidesz will be suspended.
Featured image: MTI/ Balázs Szecsődi