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May 08, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

PM Orbán withdraws Hungary’s support for Weber: Let’s remember who said what

“For us, Group Leader Weber would have also been a good Commission president,” Prime Minister Orbán said at the press conference yesterday, “but [Weber] announced that not only does he not need the Hungarian votes but he does not want to become Commission president with the support of Hungarian votes.”

“If someone insults a country like that,” PM Orbán said, “then the prime minister of that country cannot support the candidacy of such a person.”

Let’s recall how we got here.

In an interview on German television at the end of March, the European People’s Party Spitzenkandidat, Manfred Weber, made a truly astonishing statement about his bid to become the president of the European Commission.

When asked by a reporter what he would do if he needed Fidesz votes to become Commission president, the EPP Group Leader and CSU politician said, "I would not take up office because I do not want to be elected by the far right…I want to make clear that the center is the dominant force, not the fringes."

Until yesterday, Prime Minister Orbán and Fidesz had been clear and categorical about our unwavering support for the EPP’s Spitzenkandidat. Even following the EPP meeting in March, where Fidesz agreed to freeze its membership in the People’s Party, the prime minister said that it’s time to move on with the European Parliamentary elections campaign and remain unified.

Fidesz, which became a member of the EPP at the invitation of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, would, according to all the most recent projections, bring one of the largest delegations of MEPs to the EPP.

Yet the EPP’s Spitzenkandidat decided to turn his back on Fidesz. That’s remarkable.

While some press accounts spun PM Orbán’s statement yesterday as an act of disloyalty to the EPP, it would seem that the Spitzenkandidat is the one with a loyalty problem.

If right-wing parties continue to team up with Socialists, Prime Minister Orbán said in his interview yesterday in Austria’s Kleine Zeitung, then they will have to compromise and risk losing their identity and core values. “After all, Christian Democrats must remain Christian,” he said.

“Remaining a member of the EPP depends on which direction the EPP will turn,” he said in the La Stampa interview last week. “If the EPP ties itself to the European left, that’s a cooperation where we have a hard time finding our place.

That’s a cooperation, in fact, where many of Europe’s center-right, Christian Democratic parties have a hard time finding their place.