Fidesz, the party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has been suspended from the European People’s Party (EPP) group after complaints about the “anti-EU” rhetoric of their campaign for the upcoming European Parliament elections.
Members of the EPP voted on Wednesday to suspend Fidesz, despite the Hungarian party threatening to leave the group if suspended, Deutsche Welle reports.
Following the vote, Mr Orbán gave a press conference on Hungarian national television and according to Hungarian journalist Mariann Őry, Orbán slammed the “left side” of the EPP.
“The EPP is a party family which tries to keep together liberal, left-wing parties and Christian conservative parties like us. In the recent weeks the left side of this big and colourful community called for the expulsion of the right side to turn its direction to the left,” Orbán said.
“In 2000 the ÖVP was investigated, now Wolfgang Schüssel is the one who investigates, in 20 years maybe I will be investigating, for example, the Swedish liberals. This perspective attracts me,” he added.
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The Swedish Moderates and Liberals were among the most vocal members of the EPP calling for Orbán and Fidesz to be expelled from the parliamentary group earlier this year.
“We want a strong Europe. No compromise on immigration, Christianity and border control,” Orbán added and went on to say that the contentious campaign that led to the vote was not directed at European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, but at the policies of mass migration.
The Hungarian leader also praised Italian populist Interior Minister Matteo Salvini saying, “Salvini and the Italian government proved that migration can be stopped even on the sea, this is very important.”
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Whether or not the party will make good on its promise to leave the EPP, Orbán was less clear saying that Fidesz would wait for a report from its investigative team and discuss the matter closer to the European Parliament elections in May.
Prior to the vote, Orbán also met with members of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland and has discussed cooperation with Matteo Salvini recently as well.
Orbán said that in the aftermath of the EU parliament election, “we can only join a group which is clearly against immigration and for the protection of Christianity, and doesn’t agree to secret deals about migration.”
While others had reported that Fidesz had simply been suspended, Ms Őry has claimed that the actual text had been amended to, “Fidesz suspends its membership in the EPP until the evaluation report is ready.”