Fidesz, the European People’s Party, and the Alliance of Reformers and Conservatives

Let me to return to my post of April 12 entitled “Europe fights back: Viktor Orbán may be in real trouble this time.” In it I wrote that according to the reporter of Új Magyar Szó, a Hungarian-language paper in Romania, the caucus of the European People’s Party is seriously thinking about removing Fidesz from the group because the politicians of EPP no longer consider Fidesz a conservative-liberal party with a Christian Democratic program. According to a person close to Viviane Reding, Joseph Daul, the leader of the caucus, Viviane Reding, and Antonio López-Istúriz, secretary-general of EPP, discussed the matter over dinner in Dubrovnik.

Soon enough came the denial. The report from Romania is entirely without foundation, said Kostas Sasmatsoglu, EPP spokesman.  Antonio López-Istúriz wasn’t even present at the meeting of the caucus in Dubrovnik. He added that Vivane Reding ” didn’t hold a dinner meeting where the question of the future of Fidesz was discussed.”  He added that EPP can hardly wait to welcome Viktor Orbán in Strasbourg.

As soon as I read this communiqué I was struck by the odd sentence about Reding not holding a dinner meeting where the future of Fidesz was on the agenda. Sure, there may have been nothing official, but Daul and Reding might have discussed the question informally. I said at the time that although it is possible that not all the details are correct, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if at the end it turns out that there is something to the story.

Well, it looks as if I was right. The reporter for Új Magyar Szó, Árpád Zsolt Moldován, insists that his story is accurate. Fidesz’s possible departure was not only discussed during dinner but Daul and Reding also had a private meeting about the matter in the afternoon.

Fidesz's next home in Brussels? After the liberals, the Christian Democrats, now the Euro-Skeptics?

Fidesz’s next home in Brussels? After the liberals and then the Christian Democrats, now the Euro-Skeptics?

Moldován’s source is a member of Reding’s closest circle. The source claims that it was Daul who initiated the talk with Reding. Daul had found out from the Polish group in the caucus that the Fidesz delegation had begun exploratory talks with the EP caucus called the Alliance of European Reformers and Conservatives (AERC). Who are they? The caucus was formed in 2009 from EP members of parliament who are on the whole Euro-skeptic and farther to the right than EPP.  To give you an idea of the composition of the group, the largest contingent comes from the British Conservative Party, the Ulster Conservatives and Unionists (26 members) followed by 9 Občanská demokratická strana (Civic Democratic Party) members from the Czech Republic and 6 members of Kaczyński’s party (PiS) and 5 members of the Polska Jest Najważniejsza (Poland Comes First). Daul was told that Viktor Orbán had met Jarosław Kaczyński just the other day. The suspicion was that the talk might have had something to do with Fidesz’s decision to look around for a caucus where they might feel more at home.

If Fidesz leaves on its own or is expelled, the EPP caucus, the largest in the European Parliament, will lose 17 members. Certainly the leaders of the EPP delegation are not happy about such an eventuality, but “at least then the situation would be clearer.”

Moldován’s source emphasized that nothing has been decided yet, but the number of those who are worried about developments in Hungary is growing. He claimed that the delegation membership is split right down  the middle. Fifty percent support Fidesz while the other half are against Viktor Orbán’s policies. But in EPP as a whole–that would include members of the commission and other officials of the Brussels bureaucracy–the percentage of those who oppose Fidesz’s membership in EPP is 70%. And their numbers are steadily growing. More and more people question Orbán’s honesty and reliability. But “it will be Wilfried Martens, the president of EPP, who will make the final decision.”

My hunch is that Fidesz’s position within the EPP delegation is not in imminent danger. I think he could still get at least a slight majority of the members to side with him. But he is preparing for the eventuality that perhaps that slight majority will evaporate in the next few weeks, and he wants the decision to be his whether he stays or leaves the Christian Democrats and joins the Euro-skeptics where he actually belongs.

What I also find fascinating is that according to the insider’s information it was the Polish delegation that warned most likely Daul about the exploratory talks between Fidesz and the leadership of the AERC. You may recall that right after he became prime minister Viktor Orbán’s first foreign trip was to Warsaw. He had grandiose plans for a north-south axis of like-minded East-Central European States from the Baltic to the Adriatic. He made several overtures to Donald Tusk, whom he was certain would be an ally. But Orbán received a cold shoulder from Tusk. Tusk is a whole-hearted  supporter of the European Union and envisages Poland’s future in close cooperation with its western neighbor Germany. Thus, although Orbán made at least two trips to Warsaw, Tusk failed to return the visits. Presumably he keeps away from Orbán, at least in part, because he realizes that Orbán’s policies are leading him farther and farther away from Europe. Perhaps the Polish Christian Democrats’  “helpful”  information was intended to speed up the “divorce” process. After all, if Fidesz joins AERC at least he will be with his true Polish friends in the PiS. From there on Tusk doesn’t even have to pretend.

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Kungl
Guest

Interesting post indeed. Thanks.

oneill
Guest

The UK Conservatives are the driving force behind Alliance of European Reformers and Conservatives and many of them do indeed share Orban’s almost pathological hatred of Brussels and the EU.

However, at the time of setting up the grouping they took a hell of a lot hammering in the UK press due to the extremely suspect nature of some of their partners. The Latvian party in the grouping, for example hold an annual commemoration of the local branch of their Waffen SS…so obviously a place the like of Bayer and Kover could feel comfortable with.

Also, as far as I know, Bokros, ex of MDP is still a member so I can imagine his reaction to the Fidesz fascists joining up with him in Brussels.

Member

So former finance minister Bokros and Orban would be in one party, is this possible?

Guest

London Calling!

It is to the shame of many of us that the British Conservatives (the party of the ruling Prime Minister, Mr Cameron) joined the far-right AECR.

Cameron, to some degree, was put in a corner with the euro-sceptics in his own party – whom he had to placate, together with the UKIP party snapping at his heels – and gaining in popularity.

Ok! Ok! This is Hungarian Spectrum, Charlie so desist!

I only mention it because if the AECR welcomes the odious Orban – then at least the discomfort level may rise – such that Britain will leave.

Our natural place is (and always has been) with the EPP.

Regards

Charlie

Petofi1
Guest

oneill :
The UK Conservatives are the driving force behind Alliance of European Reformers and Conservatives and many of them do indeed share Orban’s almost pathological hatred of Brussels and the EU.
However, at the time of setting up the grouping they took a hell of a lot hammering in the UK press due to the extremely suspect nature of some of their partners. The Latvian party in the grouping, for example hold an annual commemoration of the local branch of their Waffen SS…so obviously a place the like of Bayer and Kover could feel comfortable with.
Also, as far as I know, Bokros, ex of MDP is still a member so I can imagine his reaction to the Fidesz fascists joining up with him in Brussels.

Latvians! Along side of Lithuanians, the most joyous murderers of jews–even the nazis were taken aback.

I’ve now soured on Bokros.

Are there no Hungarians of sense and decency left?

Krakauer4karak
Guest

Bokros himself is intelligent, and is a good prof, I guess. But how can he and his associates seriously think that they have a chance, given the election system and the media structure and the party/campaign finance issues, to name a few fundamental problems. (Or maybe he plans for the EU elections where turnout is smaller and there is a different system than in the national elections, so he could repeat the MDF results?)

Serge
Guest

Interesting analysis of European politics. May be this will be Orbán’s involuntary contribution the création of a genuine EU level political debate.
This will be interesting to watch. UK MEP were against leaving EPP and it’s not sûre they will appreciate sitting with Fidesz (they can share its euroscepticism but less so its authoritarianism).
Daul is French, does speak German and no English. He is from Alsace.

Guest

Serge was faster – Yes, Daul is what some might call an Alsatian country bumpkin, very very conservative like some of our Bavarian CSU (Christian Social Democrats, partners to the CDU of Mrs Merkel).

Most of these guys are Catholics, anti-gay, anti-feminist etc …

They also are responsible for the extremely large subsidies the EU gives to “farmers”!

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

As mentioned by Serge & wolfi, Mr. Daul is French, a member of the former majority UMP party. Last year in January, he clearly supported OV at the European Parliament… while at the same time Mr Juppé, then France’s FM and a heavyweight in the same party, was saying that the new Constitution was “a problem”.

I guess the UMP party itself, and its European MPs, are probably split on the Hungarian situation – all the more so as the party is split internally between ‘hardliners’ (Copé) and ‘softliners’ (Fillon). Problem is, OV’s authoritarianism might still attract the hardliners, but on the other hand since neither are euroskeptics the actual consequences of OV’s policies might repel both.

Last fall during the botched internal party election, Mr Daul backed Mr. Fillon. He has also for instance notably distanced himself from Mr. Berlusconi. It is plausible that he would consider doing the same with OV… but it’s a long way to go.

Member

Meanwhile in North Korea on Planet Hungary …

A holy mass is going to be offered for Viktor Orban on the occasion of his 50th birthday in the Inner City Parish Catholic Church (the Pest side of the Elizabeth bridge) on May 31st. Let’s give thanks for our dear leader. The mass is mandatory optional.

A full row of seats are reserved for the contributors of the Hungarian Spectrum.

If you cannot attend please drink two Bloody Marys in the morning for a week.

Guest

London Calling!

Blimey! Surely they can do better than that?

Only yesterday they were celebrating Kim Il-Sung’s 101st birthday – and he’s been dead 19 years.

And there are over 500 statues of him in Hungary Nth Korea!

Come on Hungary! Pull your finger out!

Regards

Charlie

PS It’s the Bloody Mary’s for me then!

Guest

London Calling!

O/T (only more so!)

“Hungary on a fast track to the past”

George Szirtes gives a better balance in the Guardian after their dreadful
Tibor Fischer artical they published recently.

George Szirtes seems to share some attributes with you Eva – well ok, he left Hungary in 1956.

Regards

Charlie

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/15/hungary-political-regression-repression-racism

Member

“Hungarians think debate is based on a sober, matter-of-fact, the-other-person-may-be-right logic, but the European Parliament is not a European place,” … “Facts are secondary.”
Viktor Orban
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/9979177/Euro-parliament-an-institution-where-facts-are-secondary.html

Joe Simon
Guest

FIDESZ fascists? Eva’s blind hatred of VO misleads you all. Orban is a politician like any other. The difference between US and Hungarian politics is that the former is more sophisticated, it has better PR. According to a recent Canadian TV program, the US legislation process is controlled by money, special interest groups. Forget democracy. As for Hungary, even the Jobbik would not oppose gun control or social medicine.

LwiiH
Guest

CharlieH :
London Calling!
O/T (only more so!)
“Hungary on a fast track to the past”
George Szirtes gives a better balance in the Guardian after their dreadful
Tibor Fischer artical they published recently.
George Szirtes seems to share some attributes with you Eva – well ok, he left Hungary in 1956.
Regards
Charlie
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/15/hungary-political-regression-repression-racism

Interesting.. the thing that I think is significant that is missed out on is that Fidesz used their 2/3 majority to use loop holes to knock down the checks that should have prevented this new constitution from being passed in the first place. This minor detail paints quite a different picture than the simply “they used their 2/3 majority…..”

Member

Joe Simon :
According to a recent Canadian TV program, the US legislation process is controlled by money, special interest groups. Forget democracy.

OMG!!! I always suspected that … Thank you Joe sooo much!!!

Member

Joe Simon :
FIDESZ fascists? Eva’s blind hatred of VO misleads you all. Orban is a politician like any other. The difference between US and Hungarian politics is that the former is more sophisticated, it has better PR. According to a recent Canadian TV program, the US legislation process is controlled by money, special interest groups. Forget democracy. As for Hungary, even the Jobbik would not oppose gun control or social medicine.

Nice to see you back. Now, if you could just leave out the constant USA comparisons this time and focus on what is going on in Hungary. Maybe on what Hungary can do better? Would that work for you?

Member

Joe Simon :
Orban is a politician like any other.

Our garden variety politician went to Spain over the weekend to see the Bilbao – Real Madrid game. He was invited by the president of Bilbao (well, he is an important guy after all). In exchange he rattled down the same conservative anti-EU speech in some Christian jamboree he gave last year. For instance he chided the EU countries for forcing the separation of the state and church …

Member

EU delays new infringement procedures against the Orban government.

The reason – they are waiting for the new legal changes, then review the whole stuff again.

This is more than ridiculous. The legal changes submitted last Friday are extremely minor.

http://bruxinfo.hu/cikk/20130416-egyelore-nem-indit-eljarasokat-brusszel.html

Appeasement redux.

petofi
Guest

Some1 :
“Hungarians think debate is based on a sober, matter-of-fact, the-other-person-may-be-right logic, but the European Parliament is not a European place,” … “Facts are secondary.”
Viktor Orban
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/9979177/Euro-parliament-an-institution-where-facts-are-secondary.html

He’s got some nerve, don’t he?

I think Viktor wakes up in the morning, looks in the mirror, and tries on a ‘few lines’ for that day.

When Viktor burps out some nonsense such as, “the other persron my be right logic”….where is the balsy interviewer to ask: “and when, specifically, has Orban experienced this ‘other person is right’ syndrome?

Member

tappanch :
EU delays new infringement procedures against the Orban government.
The reason – they are waiting for the new legal changes, then review the whole stuff again.
This is more than ridiculous. The legal changes submitted last Friday are extremely minor.
http://bruxinfo.hu/cikk/20130416-egyelore-nem-indit-eljarasokat-brusszel.html
Appeasement redux.

Well, this just confirms my opinion about the EU. I must admit, I have something in common with Orban, we both think that the EU is a joke.
THere is a saying in Hungarian:
“Nesze semmi fogd meg jól ” meaning “Here is nothing, hold it tight!” How befitting.

Member

Not “meaning”, but translation.

Kirsten
Guest

“Appeasement redux.”

I trust you are already mobilising the armed forces. No doubt you will be greated in Budapest on arrival by masses (in particular those that regularly attend peace marches and other Fidesz rallies) in the streets waving “thank you, liberators” in English, French and German, but certainly also in the other official languages such as Romanian or Slovak.

Member

tappanch :
Appeasement redux.

Now being one year from the elections (crossing fingers) I’m wondering what would be the results if anybody squeezed the balls of the Orban government now. I’m afraid it would make the Fidesz government a martyr and boost the numbers for them. This is the land of the 10% utility after all. I have the feeling that this train is gone for now. It’s too late to challenge them openly with sanctions. Now the EUs relation to Hungary is like the social services trying to save a kid in an abusive family.

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