Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, struck a defiant tone in the latest statement he has issued in his ongoing battle with Manfred Weber, the German leader of the European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament. Orbán, whose Fidesz party is a member of the EPP, accused Weber of joining the “elite club of the left” and putting his own political ambitions above the needs of the party’s member states. In his latest statement addressed to Weber, Orbán touted his government’s achievements, pointing to its success in reducing unemployment and state debt while increasing wages and household assets and its child support programs. Orbán then accused Weber of “resenting” Hungary, claiming that this stems from his party’s refusal to support Weber’s candidacy for the EC presidency in 2019. He further blasted Weber for allowing his point of view to “succumb to personal anger or even hatred,” saying that this is unbecoming for the leader of a political party. Orbán went on to state that Weber is now a member of “the elite club of the left,” and that from the perspective of someone such as Weber, all right-wing politics such as Orbán’s are understood as being “synonymous with fascism, Nazism, nationalism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia,” while all virtue lies on the left.
The Hungarian prime minister indicated that it was this sort of intolerance that led the United Kingdom to leave the EPP, and finally the EU as well, pointing out that the EPP has grown more suspicious of conservatives while becoming more welcoming to liberal parties such as the Social Democrats and the Greens, which Orbán sees as “a slippery slope.” He claimed that in reality, Central Europeans feel the same revulsion for fascism that they do for Communism and then reiterated that the region will never “surrender its Christian values, national culture and our belief in the traditional – and, for us, the only – family model.” Orbán stressed that Brussels must learn to respect such beliefs as part of an “alliance of free nations,” as opposed to pursuing “the cultural, liberal homogenization of Europe.” “A politician with ambitions for high office in Brussels must never forget this,” Orbán concluded, claiming that it would be “a mistake” if Weber and his allies attempt to force the region to accept migrants or leave it “denied the existence of national sovereignty.” He further indicated that it would be an error for Brussels to change the European Parliament’s procedures to make decisions according to majority rule as opposed to unanimity, as some have suggested, which would suppress the wishes of smaller countries such as Hungary. AP Photo/Virginia Mayo German MEP Manfred Weber attends a session in the Plenary chamber of the European Parliament in Brussels, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. The dispute between the two leaders goes back to 2018, when Weber announced his candidacy for the presidency of the European Commission. After Orbán pledged his support for Weber’s candidacy, Weber snubbed Hungary by stating that he did not want to win the election if it meant gaining Hungary’s votes in the process.
As a consequence, Fidesz withdrew its support. In the end, Weber was not nominated for the position, and Ursula von der Leyen became President of the EC instead. Since 2018, Weber has consistently echoed Brussels’ complaints that Hungary is guilty of various “rule of law” infractions, accusing Orbán’s party of establishing an anti-democratic monopoly over the media and restricting the judiciary’s independence in Hungary. Orbán has always responded that such attacks are the result of his government’s unwillingness to accept Brussels’ migration policies and its defense of Christian values as opposed to the more cosmopolitan values of Western European governments. Many politicians have backed Hungary’s view that the EU is applying double-standards , but given the large liberal majority in the European Parliament and the progressive values promoted by billionaire Georg e Soros which have gripped leading institutions in Brussels, Hungary increasingly finds itself at odds with an EU seeking to expand its power over member states. Earlier this month, Orbán accused Weber , a member of Germany’s Christian Social Union (CSU), of attempting to recreate the same political coalition in Brussels that already exists in Berlin, where the center-right governs in alliance with the left. While the EPP was once seen as a conservative party, it has drifted toward the left on many issues in recent years, including abortion and immigration. Weber has also supported Brussels’ attempt to attach EU funding to a “rule of law” mechanism that would allow the body to withhold funds from member states that were found to be in violation of such standards. Hungary and Poland exercised their veto over next year’s proposed budget earlier this month to prevent it from being put into effect.