4 months ago
The European People's Party (EPP) needs Fidesz more than Fidesz needs the EPP, is probably the most accurate summary of Manfred Weber's visit to Budapest.
It is also telling that following the initial statement, the Bavarian politician has subsequently toned down his rhetoric, mentioning the disagreement in a more conciliatory manner.
Weber has realized that unilateral dictates cannot form the basis for any negotiations and are not exactly the European way either. The visit also showed that the German top candidate wants to keep Fidesz within the EPP, as the party stands to lose more by expelling it than it can gain by keeping it in.
There is also Weber's personal ambition, as losing Fidesz would weaken the EPP and with it Weber's bid for becoming President of the European Commission.
They say politics is the art of compromise and in this particular case it looks entirely appropriate. Compromise, however, does not involve giving up one's principles: the Hungarian government remains committed to rejecting migration and defending Christian culture.
Of Weber's three conditions, one, the poster campaign against Brussels, has already been solved as the campaign is over. The second - an apology to EPP member parties - also seems to be solved as Orbán said he is ready to apologize if he hurt anyone with the expression "useful idiots". On the third issue - that of the Central European University - Weber seems to have brought his own proposal for a solution.
While the debate is not over, it has mellowed and it looks like there may be an armistice at least until after the May European elections.
Title image: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (L) and EPP caucus leader Manfred Weber meet in Budapest (MTI/Balázs Szecsődi)