Fidesz Quits EPP

This week’s European Headlines focuses on Fidesz’s withdrawal from the EPP group following a vote to facilitate MEP exclusion. We take a look at reporting from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Spain and Slovenia. 
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Burning Bridges

Idnes reports on Orbán’s exit from the European People’s Party (EPP) as a result of several years of internal conflict in the party. Orbán has always been critical of the EU’s objectives in Hungary regarding media pluralism, rule of law, and the independence of the judiciary. On Wednesday, the EPP members voted to change the rules to facilitate the exclusion of MEPs from the party. Being threatened by these rules, Fidesz exited itself. The majority of the Czech MEPs were in favour of these amendments. MEP Luděk Niedermayer stated: “For five years now, I have been calling for this situation to be unsustainable and discrediting for the EPP”. The socialist and liberal parties’ heads, Iratxe Garcia and Dacian Ciolos respectively have called Orban’s conduct undemocratic and toxic.

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Plenty more fish in the EP?

Index reports on possible scenarios that Fidesz might face after leaving the EPP. The most possible development seems to be the creation of a new faction with the European Conservative and Reformists (ECR) and Identity and Democracy (ID), both of which are far-right and Eurosceptic. Another option is to directly join the ECR, however this will be less profitable for Fidesz than the first one, as the ECR holds only a small fraction of seats in Parliament. If they were to join the ID group, they would not represent the largest force in the party and would have to follow Matteo Salvini and Marine Le Pen’s path, consequently, this option also seems less probable. Lastly, they might remain independent and wait for possible opportunities. This scenario is not without drawbacks either, as finances and opportunities for an independent party are rather limited compared to a political group.

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Sinking Ship

Europapress reports on Orban’s Thursday statement in which he defended the decision taken by Fidesz to leave the “sinking ship” that was the EPP and form a new European alliance that brings together parties that defend traditional Christin values. In the strong statement, Orban stated that the potential new right alliance must serve as a home for European citizens who do not want immigrants or multiculturalism, those who have not fallen into “LGBT madness”, and those who defend the Christian traditions of Europe and respect the sovereignty of countries.

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Troubled Waters Ahead

The Slovenian Times reports that three of Slovenia’s four MEPs from the EPP voted against the changes to the rules of procedure that paved the way to exclude Fidesz from the party. Citing the timing of the vote in the middle of a pandemic and the vaccination races as reasons not to rush changes, MEPs Romana Tomc and Milan Zver stated that the decision would serve to weaken the EPP, while MEP Franc Bogovič stated that the result of the vote was a sad day for the EU and the EPP, and that the issues between Orban and Fidesz should have been resolved by EPP leader Donald Tusk.

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