Thirteen centre-right parties have signed a letter demanding that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party be removed from the European People’s Party (EPP), the largest bloc in the European Parliament.
The letter calls on Donald Tusk, the president of the EPP, to expel Fidesz from the political group in response to the emergency law the Hungarian government passed to combat the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.
Euractiv published parts of the letter, which states: “The fight against COVID-19 requires extensive measures, however, the virus cannot be used as a pretext to extend the state of emergency indefinitely. We fear that Prime Minister Orbán will use his newly achieved power to further extend the government’s grip on civil society.”
Former Obama-Era U.S. Ambassador Calls for Hungary to Be Expelled from EU https://t.co/adtkk1otrr
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 1, 2020
Signed by parties from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, and Sweden, the letter also noted the fact that Fidesz is currently still suspended from the EPP, which began in March of last year and was extended in January.
Noticeably absent from the letter were the French and German members of the EPP which include German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
The initial suspension came in response to “anti-EU” rhetoric from Fidesz prior to the 2019 European Parliament elections that included a billboard campaign that accused former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros of wanting to flood Europe with migrants.
“We have followed the degradation of the Hungarian rule of law for some time. Fidesz is currently suspended from the EPP due to its failure to respect the principle of rule of law. However, the recent developments have confirmed our conviction that Fidesz, with its current policies, cannot enjoy full membership in the EPP,” the letter added.
A vote on the possible expulsion of Fidesz is expected in June at the next assembly of the European People’s Party.
The letter comes after Prime Minister Orbán criticised Mr Tusk in his own letter, according to the Financial Times, which says the Hungarian leader accused Tusk of “sowing seeds of division within the centre-right political grouping and pursuing domestic ‘political games'”.
Earlier in the week, Tusk criticised the emergency law, stating: “Making use of the pandemic to build a ‘state of a permanent state of emergency’ is politically dangerous, and morally unacceptable.”
Orbán Party Suspended from Conservative EU Parliament Group https://t.co/BHjEUHzCVQ
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 21, 2019
European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen also publically criticised the Hungarian government this week, saying: “I am concerned that certain measures go too far and I’m particularly concerned with the situation in Hungary.”
Von der Leyen went on to warn that the Commission could seek possible action against Hungary, saying it could “take action as necessary as we have already done in the past”.
In response, Hungarian Secretary of State for International Communication and Relations Zoltan Kovacs claimed Hungary was being “subjected to a political witch-hunt and a coordinated smear campaign in the media”.
Addressing President Von der Leyen directly, he added: “This is a typical example of double standards; because Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is vested with no more rights or powers than the President of France has in normal circumstances.”
The Hungarian government has insisted that their own anti-coronavirus measures go no further than similar measures seen elsewhere in Europe this year, nor do they exceed the restrictions on liberty made by France in their state of emergency declared during the fight against terrorism last decade.
Hungary to UN: If You Can’t Help Us Fight Pandemic, Get Out of the Way https://t.co/TeJBjW72j1
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 31, 2020