Hungary’s Orban Mulls New EU Movement if His Party Exits EPP

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(Bloomberg) -- Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he’s ready to start a new political platform in Europe if his Fidesz party is forced out of the European People’s Party, the continent’s biggest such group.

Orban has repeatedly threatened to preemptively withdraw from the center-right alliance within the European Union, which has suspended Fidesz while it evaluates its actions to undercut democracy. Orban said Thursday that a decision will be taken after meetings in the coming days with EPP President Donald Tusk, the head of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, an influential EPP member.

Hungary’s Orban Mulls New EU Movement if His Party Exits EPP

But at this point, Orban is still trying to persuade the EPP, the biggest group in the European Parliament, to become “less liberal” and hew closer to policies the Hungarian leader has espoused, Orban said. Those include staunchly opposing immigration and prioritizing national sovereignty in decision-making.

“If EPP is unable to change itself, we think in the future it will be obsolete and we need a new European initiative, which is Christian Democrat,” Orban told reporters in Budapest.

The EPP has played a key role in protecting Orban over the past decade, as he has centralized power at home while drawing EU probes over the erosion of the rule of law. But the party’s patience has worn thin, and it suspended Fidesz in March. Orban urged the group to embrace the continent’s populist agenda, including anti-immigration.

The Hungarian leader said he was already talking with potential allies for his new EU party, including in Poland, whose ruling Law & Justice Party belongs to the European Conservatives and Reformists, the sixth largest group in the European Parliament. Orban didn’t rule out that his Fidesz party may join the ECR if his bid to create his own falls through.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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