By N. Peter Kramer
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, asked about Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s recent anti-EU poster campaign against him, declared, “enough is enough.”
Orban and his party, Fidesz, should leave the EPP, he added. But a day later Juncker called, totally surprising his audience, the Hungarian PM still ‘my friend’. Anyhow, Angela Merkel offered Juncker immediately her “full solidarity”, what is not surprising, the German chancellor is another of Orban’s favorite targets. But she didn’t say anything about Fidesz should leave the EPP.
Her successor, the new CDU president, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, intervened too. “The CDU will continue to talk to Fidesz”, she said, “if, however, a common understanding of the goals of the EPP can no longer be established within this framework, the format would make no sense and would therefore end.
It is up to the Hungarian side to prove it still feels a part of the EPP.” CDU’s Bavarian sister party, CSU, has thus-far been a close ally of Fidesz. CSU’s new president, Markus Soder, said, “we don’t want to drive anyone out of the EPP family. But we must also make it clear what is acceptable and what is not.
Viktor Orban’s chosen path is unfortunately heading in the wrong direction.”
In the EPP fears exist that expelling Fidesz could mean losing too many seats to stay far out the biggest political group and losing thereby the power to ‘rule the waves’ in the European Parliament.
A realistic fear, opinion polls show these days that the EPP anyhow will lose seats, the question only is about how many.
Therefore, expelling Fidesz is for many in the EPP a bridge to far. Also because of the risk, that Orban officially will join the right-wing populist camp. In their views the EP election campaign would become an even more pro- versus anti-European affair, which would only benefit the so called populist forces.
Prime Minister Victor Orban can sleep on two ears…