Metsola joins EPP delegation heads in call to bring Orban to heel

PN’s head of delegation Roberta Metsola says EPP must take clear stand on Orban’s rule-by-decree measures

Roberta Metsola
Roberta Metsola

Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola has joined a group of signatories from the European People’s Party to call on the party leadership to take a clear position on rule of law in Hungary.

In their letter to EPP presidents Donald Tusk and Manfred Weber, the MEPs said they were deeply concerned by the developments in Hungary, which de facto allows Hungary prime minister and Fidesz leader Viktor Orbán to rule by decree without a clear end date, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Using a pandemic to clamp down on civil liberties and advance an illiberal political agenda, while scapegoating the EU for domestic political purposes, is cynical.

Viktor Orbán
Viktor Orbán

“The EPP party as well as the EPP group have the moral obligation to defend liberal democracy and the rule of law, especially in times of the deep crises that we are going through.”

The letter was signed by Metsola as well as heads of the EPP delegations of Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Portugal, Poland, Lithuania, Czechia, Slovakia, Netherlands, and Estonia.

As heads of delegations of their respective parties, they urged Tusk and Weber to draw “the necessary consequences from this additional attack on our European values and on the founding values of the EPP. We expect our EPP-Group to take a clear stance, which should at least mirror the decisions of the EPP party, when it comes to standing up for our founding values and political convictions.”

The MEPs said that while there are certain extraordinary measures necessary for reasons of public health in the coronavirus pandemic, the appropriate checks and balances should remain in place.

Despite the show of force inside the EPP to keep Orbán in check, it is unclear as to whether these delegations make up more than half of the EPP member parties.

The German CDU is divided on the issue of Orbán and his party Fidesz; the French Republicains, Italy’s Forza Italia, and Spain’s Pardido Popular support Orbán, who also enjoys the support of Baltic and Central Eastern parties.

One source who is familiar with the EPP described the situation to MaltaToday: “The issue will not subside any time soon, but there aren’t the sufficient numbers to expel Orbán. At any rate, with the lockdown the EPP will not expel Fidesz without convening a meeting in Brussels. It is such a big decision it won’t be taken virtually.”

Malta’s Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia is one of the EPP party leaders who wants a virtual conference to take the decision on whether to expel Fidesz from the EPP.

Sacking Fidesz from the EPP would lose the bloc, the largest in European Parliament and consistently the most influential, 13 Hungarian MEPs. Some parties fear that expelling Fidesz would attract other MEPs in the EPP from switching their alliance and following Fidesz.

The same source said the Fidesz issue for EPP member parties is being judged according to how this would affect their own party interests. “Each EPP national party’s prime interest is how their position on Orbán might affect their popularity back home. Central and Eastern parties, and the Baltics, tend to be pragmatists but also fairly on the right-wing of the spectrum.”

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