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Hungary's ruling party quits European People's Party

March 18, 2021

Hungary's ruling Fidesz party cut off ties with its center-right European sister-parties. The move follows mounting tensions between Hungary and other EU member states over concerns of rule of law in the country.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban
Hungary's party was in conflict with the European party for yearsImage: Getty Images/AFP/A. Kisbenedek

Hungary's ruling Fidesz Party, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, announced Thursday that it was leaving the European People's Party (EPP).

The announcement was tweeted by Katalin Novak, the vice president of the Fidesz-Hungarian Civic Alliance and the minister for families, who wrote: "It's time to say goodbye."

EPP chief Donald Tusk immediately responded to Novak, tweeting: "FIDESZ has left Christian Democracy. In truth, it left many years ago."

The EPP released a short statement confirming that it received the letter of resignation, and noting that the Fidesz party was no longer a member of the European center-right bloc.

Thursday's move to completely leave the European political alliance follows Fidesz's decision earlier this monthto pull out of the group in the European parliament.

What is the EPP?

The EPP is the largest party in the European Parliament, bringing together Europe's major center-right parties. The largest national contingent is German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU). European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is also a member.

Why are relations strained?

The Fidesz party was suspended from the EPP in 2019, with lawmakers at the time citing concerns over rule of law in Hungary. Conservative European lawmakers also took issue with the Fidesz party's anti-Brussels campaigning.

The decision to formally leave the party comes after the conservative bloc voted for a rules change that opened an opportunity for it to suspend the Fidesz party over its alleged democratic backsliding.

What happens next?

Orban has previously showed his support for a new European right-wing political grouping for "our type of people," reported news agency AFP.

He implied he was in talks with Poland's governing right-wing PiS party, as well as leaders of anti-immigration and euroskeptic Italian parties.

kbd/rs (AP, Reuters)