EPP and Fidesz: why only a suspension?

The European People's Party has suspended the membership of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party. An expert commission must now decide whether the party is still fit to remain in the EPP. Orbán has accepted the suspension, but made a point of not ruling out the possibility of leaving the group at a later date. Commentators flesh out the motives behind the EPP's decision.

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24.hu (HU) /

Top priority is to ensure calm before the storm

Manfred Weber didn't dare forfeit the ten or so seats Fidesz stands to gain in the European elections, writes Péter Petö, deputy editor of 24.hu:

“Because he could need them badly if he wants to become EU Commission president. ... Although the discussion was passed off as a debate about values, this cool compromise shows that the decision was driven purely by power politics. The reconstituted 'Committee of Wise Men' deserves the lead role in a political cabaret. The EPP has refrained from heaving heavy value-based sighs because Fidesz's seats and the months of peace are more important to it in the run-up to the European election campaign than we all thought.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

Orbán will bide his time

Dnevnik explains why Viktor Orbán won't be particularly ruffled by the EPP's decision:

“The balance of power is changing in the EPP. With the conservative policies of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer the CDU is gaining in importance. So even though he's been suspended, Orbán will continue to feel comfortable in this environment. He's looking optimistically to the time after the European elections, when the EPP will have to decide what political direction to take - either to the left, or to the right towards the populists. The EPP has failed to update its Christian values, preferring to postpone any possible renewal until after the elections.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Tearing down bridges doesn't help

Suspending Orbán's Fidesz party is a clever compromise, the Tages-Anzeiger puts in,

“Because in today's Europe practically every country has its Orbán. Europe's social democrats, for example, have a big problem with their Romanian colleagues who are getting rich in Bucharest and gradually dismantling the rule of law just like Viktor Orbán in Hungary. In such situations, excluding and tearing down bridges doesn't help much - on the contrary. On the one hand there's a crack running through Europe, between the East and the West. ... But in practically every country there is also a polarisation that is gradually tearing societies apart. Politicians like Viktor Orbán must be confronted, among other things with their own contradictions.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Eurosceptics are hot on the EPP's heels

For Rzeczpospolita the Fidesz affair shows how weak the EPP has become:

“Fidesz was merely suspended rather than excluded from the European People's Party. Manfred Weber, the head of this group which is still the biggest in the European Parliament, has said that he abides by 'European values' on a daily basis. But he only does it when it doesn't harm his struggle for the presidency of the European Commission. His efforts could be in vain if Fidesz joins the EU-sceptic European Conservatives and Reformers (ECR), to which the PiS and the British Tories belong. Even without Fidesz the ECR is becoming the second-most important - or perhaps even the most important - power in the European Parliament.”