Fidesz MEPs to oppose European People’s Party nominee for EC president

May 27, 2014


Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) does not collaborate with extremist parties in the European Parliament and expects the same of its German conservative counterparts, said Vice Chancellor of Germany Gabriel Sigmar in Berlin on Monday. Sigmar believes that Germany’s conservatives need to make it clear that there is no room for anti-European and right-wing populist parties – such as Hungary’s Fidesz and Italy’s Forza Italia – in the European People’s Party (EPP).

The SPD is not willing to work with extremists “simply for the purposes of securing a majority” in the European Parliament, said Sigmar, who is also president of the party. The SPD is part of a larger governing coalition in Germany with the conservative Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CDU/CSU).

The Vice Chancellor believes it is unacceptable to leave “the fate of Europe in the hands of parties like Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Viktor Orban’s Fidesz.”

“The CDU/CSU should also be responsible for making sure that political will and the ability to form a majority does not depend on enlisting the support of populists and extremists,”  Sigmar said.

His statements indicate a desire on behalf of the left-leaning German SPD to negotiate over who should be the next president of the European Commission.  The center-right EPP received 212 out of a total of 751 seats in the European Parliament, making it the largest of the EP”s political factions.

The make-up of the political groups in the Parliament will be instrumental in determining the presidency of the European Commission. EPP has nominated the party’s parliamentary leader, Jean-Claude Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg, but internal conflict within the party may cost him votes.

Winning Sunday’s EP election with 52% of the vote, Fidesz will seat 12 of Hungary’s 21 MEPs in Brussels when the EP next convenes,  Fidesz joined the EPP in the early 2000s, but has since lost credibility by paying lip service to principles shared by EPP members but doing the opposite at home. As a result, Fidesz MEPs are considered a fringe group within the European People’s Party.

Recently, the European Commission suspended fiscal transfers to Hungary despite outgoing European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso being a fellow EPP member.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has stated that Fidesz’s MEPs will not endorse fellow EPP member Juncker for the presidency of the Commission, even if Juncker receives the endorsement of the EPP itself.

If Fidesz MEPs fails to support Juncker’s nomination, it may affect Hungary’s relationship with the EPP as well as with the EU.  Many pundits consider this to be the end of the road in Fidesz’s troubled relationship with the party.

Given the troubled relationship between Fidesz and the EPP, Orban is already giving signals of contemplating building relationships with political groups outside the EPP.  In an article that appeared in the EUObserver on Sunday, the Hungarian author suggests that Orban shares common views ideologically with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who belongs to the European Conservatives and Reformists party.

Fidesz would have a hard time identifying common traits between its own brand of conservate euroscepticism and that of Cameron and his party.  It would be even more difficult for the European Conservatives and Reformists  to identify values they have in common with Fidesz.

Referenced in this article:

Orbánéknak nincs helye a Európai Néppártban a német SPD szerint,; 26 May 2014.

Jean-Claude Juncker makes claim to EU presidency, Financial Times; 26 May 2014.

Hungarian PM breaks ranks on Juncker,; 25 May 2014.