Hungary’s ruling party is leaving the center-right European group

Hungary’s ruling right-wing Fidesz party on Wednesday left the group’s conservative European People’s Party (EPP), said Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

“I hereby announce that Fidesz MPs are resigning from the EPP group,” Orban said in a letter to PPE group leader Manfred Weber, posted on Twitter by one of Orban’s ministers.

The decision to quit came immediately after the PPE voted for a change in its rules that was billed as a way to expel Orban’s hardline nationalist party from their ranks.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has now informed the PPE (the largest group in the European Parliament) that he will remove the #Fidesz party and its 12 members from the group https://t.co/h5hKrXkF99

– Catherine Nicholson (@ACatInParis) March 3, 2021

The Conservative bloc had supported by 148 members against 28 a measure that would allow them to vote in the future to suspend or dismiss an entire national party delegation.

Orban accused the EPP of “trying to shut down and deactivate our democratically elected MEPs” and called the vote “a hostile step towards Fidesz and our voters”, as well as “anti-democratic, unfair and unacceptable”.

The EPP, which brings together Europe’s leading center-right parties, is the largest single bloc in the European Parliament and the party of both Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The departure of the Fidesz group ends years of rancor between the EPP parties on whether to kick out Orban’s party or keep their MEPs on board the center-right grouping to avoid sitting with Eurosceptic populists.

(AFP)