UPDATED: Hungary’s Fidesz leaves the EPP group

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Hungary’s ruling nationalist Fidesz party quit the main pan-European centre-right bloc, the European People’s Party, on Thursday, two years after it was suspended for policies criticised by mainstream conservatives as authoritarian.

“It’s time to say goodbye,” Fidesz Vice Chairwoman Katalin Novak wrote on Twitter, posting a brief letter which said it “no longer wishes to maintain its membership in the (EPP), thus resigns.”

The EPP suspended Fidesz ahead of European parliamentary elections in 2019, but stopped short of expelling it permanently, despite Prime Minister Viktor Orban having campaigned with posters that demonised EPP member Jean-Claude Juncker, then head of the European Commission.

“I think that Mr Orban is a long way from basic Christian Democratic values,” Juncker said at the time.

Fidesz quit the EPP’s group in the European Parliament earlier this month.

The EPP is the biggest party in the European Parliament, and its largest national contingent is Angela Merkel’s German conservatives.

Orban on Friday said his nationalist Fidesz party would team up with like-minded parties in Italy and Poland to reorganise European right-wing politics. He would soon meet with Matteo Salvini, who heads Italy’s right-wing League party, and Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and “we will plan the future together.”

Fidesz on Thursday submitted its resignation from the European People’s Party (EPP), the mainstream conservative grouping in the European parliament.

Orban said Fidesz had politically drifted away from the EPP in recent years on issues also including taxation and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Orban, who faces elections in 2022, is up for the toughest challenge of his decade-long rule as a united opposition is running neck-and-neck with him in polls.

The premier has turned to increasingly hardline rhetoric in recent years, advocating “ethnic homogeneity,” mimicking Poland’s anti-LGBT politics with legal changes and using harsh language against Hungary’s Roma minority.

Main Photo: Hungarian Prime Minister and President of Fidesz Viktor Orban . EPA-EFE/Zsolt Szigetvary

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