Commentary Fidesz suspension

EPP punishment of Orban is a compromise not afforded to Poland

The suspension of Fidesz maybe an unprecedented step in the history of the EPP but is still a compromise measure showing that Viktor Orban’s strategy of staying within the EPP has protected Hungary from the kinds of measures taken against Poland, writes Anna Słojewska.

The EC has been critical of Hungary and its leader but it has never brought an Article 7 action against him on the issue of the rule of law. Instead it has argued that Hungary has been willing to be constructive and change legislation.

However, the real reason may lie in the fact that FIDESZ is part of the EPP, the biggest European parliamentary grouping. The Polish ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) belongs to the much smaller European Conservative Reformers (ECR) group.

‘Special relationship’ seems to be at an end

Another important factor is the fact that the ‘Spitzenkandidaten’ and head of the EPP Manfred Weber has for years been protecting Mr Orban in order to ensure that the sizeable FIDESZ delegation augmented the structures of the EPP. He resisted launching an attack on Orban over the Hungarian leader’s stance during the migration debate as Weber’s own party (CSU) is sympathetic to that point of view. 

But that ‘special relationship’ seems to be at an end. Weber needs to expand his electorate beyond the EPP if he is to become the President of the EC. He may need socialist liberal and green votes, for these groupings Orban is an anti-European bogeyman. 

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