Thursday, March 21, 2019

European Parliamentary Bloc Suspends Fidesz As Hungary's Feud With Brussels Deepens

With  polls projecting large gains for eurosceptic parties from Italy to Central and Eastern Europe (most notably Hungary and Poland) in the upcoming European Parliamentary Election, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Fidesz Party on Wednesday were officially suspended from the largest center-right group in the EU Parliament - setting the stage for a complete break between the center-right and the anti-establishment eurosceptics.

The suspension is the culmination of a long-running feud between Orban and Manfred Weber, the group's candidate to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as the head of the European Commission. Participating MEPs voted almost unanimously in favor of a suspension.

Details of the suspension leaked ahead of the vote. It will involve Fidesz losing all participatory rights in the group while the EPP prepares a final report on Orban's alleged transgressions.

Fidesz aroused the anger of its fellow EPP members, Weber in particular, with anti-EU and anti-Soros billboard campaigns, which Fidesz adopted in the run-up to its most recent landslide electoral victory. Orban's comments calling Germany's Christian Democrats, fellow coalition members, "useful idiots" for their left-wing opponents also angered the bloc (though Orban apologized for that comment), as have Hungary's passage of laws to crack down on foreign NGOs, which helped push the Soros-founded Central European University, as well as Soros' Open Society Foundation, out of the country. The EPP also accused Fidesz of fear-mongering and peddling false narratives for the party's own political ends.

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