Movement for a Modern Hungary (MoMA) chairman Lajos Bokros says Fidesz could leave the European People’s Party to join the European Conservatives and Reformists group in the European Parliament.
Talk has circulated recently among members of the EPP that Fidesz might have overstayed its welcome in the center-right group, and some EPP members, prompted most recently by the Hungarian government’s aggressive moves targeting Central European University, have made no secret of their disdain for Fidesz.
“I would be the happiest if we would succeed in ridding ourselves of them, because they won’t leave on their own,” Luxembourgish MEP Frank Engel said recently.
Rumors have abounded that EPP leaders are planning a sit-down with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán this month during an EPP powwow in the run-up to the next European Council summit.
According to Bokros, it would make sense for Fidesz to leave the EPP for the ECR, as meetings concerning this have gone on for years.
“The ECR is currently the third-largest parliamentary group in the European Parliament, with 30 parties from 18 countries,” Bokros says. “Its leading power base came from representatives of the British Conservative Party and Poland’s ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS). But [Brexit] now puts the group in danger. The British will not elect new MEPs in 2019, which will leave the ECR without the British Conservative Party and its 21 members. The Polish PiS would become the largest faction within the group – with its 18 representatives – because the rest of the countries in the group only delegate one or two members; even Germany only has 6 members in the group.”
Bokros says Fidesz’s jump over to the ECR would be in everyone’s interest. Fidesz’s 12 MEPs would make the party the second-largest in the group after PiS (third-largest if it were to happen now before the British Conservatives leave). This would mean a huge growth in Fidesz’s own position and strength in the European Parliament, because the move would ensure that the ECR would not disappear after the 2019 elections and the loss of the British.
Ironically, Bokros himself served as an MEP in the ECR group between 2009 and 2014.
“Where else would I have sat as a sworn enemy of Fidesz and fighter for Hungarian democracy?”he says. “I had an outstanding working relationship with the British Conservative Party, they even signed the Tavares Report [on fundamental rights in Hungary]. The group’s leader, Martin Callanan, even attended and spoke at MoMa’s founding conference four years ago.”
According to Bokros, with the British Conservative Party out of the ECR, the sober and moderate democratic power within the ECR will be gone. What remains will be Poland’s PiS and potentially Hungary’s Fidesz, meaning a “sour coalition of illiberal democrats will be born.”