Does Viktor Orbán have the European People’s Party cornered?

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Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party will not wait forever for the response of the European People’s Party (EPP) to the memorandum sent them on Tuesday by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the party’s vice-president for foreign affairs, Katalin Novák, said in an interview.

In the memo to the EPP political group, which Fidesz is a member of, Orbán said the party had lost its way and abandoned Christian and conservative values in its shift towards the left.

Novák – who was also the one who shared the full three-page memorandum on Twitter – said that Fidesz is in fact waiting for a response to Orbán’s thought-provoking missive from both the leaders of the EPP and its member parties.

“It is also a fact that we will not wait impassively forever,” Novák said, adding that should the EPP not be receptive to the ideas of the memorandum, “there will be other partners”.

There have been rumblings for months now that Orbán would remove his party from the EPP, with Fidesz threatening to leave the European Parliament coalition of conservative European parties. Orbán said in January that Europe may need a new Christian conservative movement, with Hungary’s leader warning that the “EPP is getting more and more liberal, socialist and centrist,” and that the party is not preserving its original values. As a result, the party is “shrinking, it is losing its influence, positions, and seats in the European Parliament.”

In this week’s memorandum, Orbán wrote that in order to find a way forward, the party should conduct an honest and thorough introspection.

“We don’t stand up for ourselves as old and great Europeans, and don’t take on the fight against left-liberal intellectual forces and the media they influence and control,” Orbán wrote.

Orbán stressed that the party needs to make a move back towards its Christian-democratic and conservative roots, and in the process, serve as an example for the new nations the EU should bring into its family of members states.

“We gave up the family model based on matrimony of one woman and one man, and fell into the arms of gender ideology. Instead of supporting the birth of children, we see mass migration as the solution to our demographic problem,” Orbán wrote in his memo to the EPP.

Orbán has the EPP cornered with his latest move

Speaking to conservative daily Magyar Nemzet, political analyst Zoltán Kiszelly – borrowing a chess term that does not exist in English – said the EPP is in a Zugzwang, the German expression for a situation found in chess and other turn-based games wherein one player is put at a disadvantage because he must make a move when he would prefer to pass and not move. The fact that the player is compelled to move means that his position will become significantly weaker.

Kiszelly said the genius of Orbán’s move was that it reversed the previous state of affairs in which Fidesz was being chased, while at the same time also offering a viable alternative to work towards a state of cooperation.

He said that should the EPP not respond in a meaningful way, but simply reference European values, it would all but confirm Orbán’s clearly expressed point that the group has embraced a number of left-wing concepts over the years, including gender ideology and pro-migration stances.

While Orbán is attending the EU summit today to negotiate Hungary’s budget allocation for European funds, indications are that he will not have a separate meeting with EPP President Donald Tusk.

Title image: Prime Minister Viktor Orbán attends the European People Party’s congress in 2019.

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