19 Oct 2018

Viktor Orbán wants European Christian Democrats to like him as he is

Remember when Mark Darcy tells Bridget Jones he likes her just as she is? Who wouldn’t like to hear that? Orbán certainly does. He expects such acceptance from the European People’s Party, to which his own party, Fidesz, still strangely belongs.

Karolina Zbytniewska
Karolina Zbytniewska Euractiv, Europe
Source: Euractiv
Viktor Orbán wants
European Christian Democrats to like him as he is - NewsMavens
Orban at EPP Summit in Brussels. Wikicommons.

Why this story matters:

On September 12, the European Parliament triggered a disciplinary procedure against Hungary on the basis of a "risk of serious breach of the values on which the Union is founded."  European lawmakers are deeply worried about Hungary's attacks against the media, harassment of NGOs and hard-line approach to migration.

The EPP -- the European People's Party -- is made up of mainstream center-right parties from Europe... and Fidesz. The latter is somewhat of a rogue member that makes EU criticism a core of its internal discourse. 

Despite his consistently illiberal agenda, Orbán's presence in the EPP was long protected. After 8 years of his assertive dismantling of liberal democracy, members of the EPP merely decided to vote against Hungary in a de facto inconsequential Article 7 vote (to impose sanctions, at least four-fifths of the Council’s members would be needed -- nearly impossible).

But Orbán has pointed out this inconsistency at the very heart of EU policy making. He rightly asked why the EU is fussing over Budapest so much lately when the country's policy has been consistent for nearly a decade. And he demanded that the EPP accept him as he is, lest they split.

In truth, they do accept him unconditionally. Why? No one really knows. The EPP has 219 seats in the European Parliament. Only 12 belong to Orbán’s cronies. This also translates into one more EPP-friendly EU Commissioner. But… is this worth sacrificing the ethical legitimacy of the leading European political force? Is anything worth that?

The EU should never give up its values for vague political gains. In fact, it probably shouldn't give up its values for anything. And especially in these alpha male times, it should finally show some balls.

Details from the story:

  • At the moment, the European Parliament has 751 seats. After Brexit this number will shrink to 705.
  • EPP now boasts 219 seats, making the largest party. The second biggest, the Social Democrats, have 188.
  • Orbán recently provoked his Christian Democratic family by officially thanking the Greek far-right Golden Dawn party for their support during last month’s vote on Article 7.
  • Alexander Stubb, one of the EPP’s candidates for the next European Commission presidency, is one of the few assertive critics of Orbán within the group.

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