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Orban rescinds support for Weber in EU vote

May 6, 2019

Hungary's leader said he would not support German politician Manfred Weber in the upcoming EU parliamentary elections. Orban said the head of the conservative bloc in the European Parliament had offended Hungarians.

Manfred Weber and Viktor Orban
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Koszticsak

Hungary's nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orban, said Monday that he would not support Manfred Weber as the lead conservative candidate to take over as president of the European Commission.

After meeting Austria's far-right vice chancellor, Heinz-Christian Strache, Orban was asked about Weber's recent comments slamming Hungary's ruling Fidesz party, which is currently suspended from Weber's European People's Party (EPP) bloc in the European parliament for its anti-EU campaigning. 

"Weber would have been good for us as president of the commission," Orban said, "but he made the statement that not only does he not need the Hungarian votes but he doesn't even want the Hungarian votes to become commission president."

"That is such an offense to Hungary and the Hungarian voters," he added.

Orban expected to leave EPP

The EPP, which Weber leads, is currently the largest group in parliament, and if it stays that way after May's EU elections, it will get to name the next president of the European Commission.

The head of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives in Germany, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, told Reuters late Monday that she expected Orban's party to leave the EPP.

"With his behaviour in the last few days and the meeting with (Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini), he has given a clear sign that he will leave," she said.

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Elizabeth Schumacher
Elizabeth Schumacher Elizabeth Schumacher reports on gender equity, immigration, poverty and education in Germany.