For the time being, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s plans to form a new political group in the European Parliament (EP) with his Polish and Italian allies seem to have come to abrupt stop.
Although there were rumors on Wednesday that Fidesz would form a new EP group with Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), former Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini’s Northern League, the Spanish Vox, the Austrian Freedom Party, and the French National Rally, headed by Marine Le Pen, La Reppublica wrote that PiS had backed out of the agreement at the last minute.
According to the Italian daily, PiS does not want to leave the European Conservatives and Reformists group in the European Parliament. Following this development, Matteo Salvini saw no point in traveling to Warsaw for the summit on Saturday, where they were to announce the formation of the new group.
The idea for the new EP caucus arose after 12 Fidesz MEPs left the conservative European People’s Party (EPP) group on 3 March. The last straw for Fidesz was that the People’s Party had voted in favor of an amendment to its statutes that allowed not only members but also entire delegations to be excluded and suspended from the group.
Then, on March 18, Fidesz announced that it would withdraw from the European People’s Party itself. This was announced by Katalin Novák, who wrote in a recent Facebook post that, contrary to media rumors, Fidesz would only be cooperating with democratically-minded conservative parties.
The minister without portfolio responsible for families was most likely referring to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which news site 444 claimed would have been included in the new EP group.
However, the inclusion of AfD might risk Fidesz losing the support of the party’s traditional German ally, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). The CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, remain part of the European People’s Party.
Since Fidesz left the EPP in March, the Hungarian Prime Minister has repeatedly discussed the creation of a new European political group with Matteo Salvini and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Vice-President of PiS.
The three conservative leaders held a joint press conference in Budapest on April 1, at which time Viktor Orbán claimed that the European People’s Party was committed to left-wing cooperation, leaving many millions unrepresented and desiring a “European renaissance” led by Christian Democrats.
Bertalan Havasi, press officer for the Prime Minister’s Office, confirmed with ATV that Viktor Orbán would still take part in a working meeting of European conservative party leaders at the Warsaw summit on Saturday.
According to Index, a new EP group composed of far-right parties with 113 MEPs (or 102 without AfD’s 11 politicians), could be the third strongest group in the 705-seat body, after the European People’s Party (178 MEPs) and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (145 MEPs).
[Index][Photo: Viktor Orbán, Matteo Salvini, and Mateusz Morawiecki hold a joint press conference in Budapest, Apr. 1, 2021]