Orbán’s Fidesz quits EPP group in European Parliament – POLITICO

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party on Wednesday quit the center-right bloc in the European Parliament after a vote that paved the way for it to be suspended or excluded from the group.

A total of 148 MEPs voted in favor, and 28 against, new rules that would allow the European People’s Party (EPP) group — the biggest in the Parliament — to vote for the exclusion of “a Member or Members of the Group.”

Orbán responded quickly with a letter, making clear his party would not stick around for a vote to kick it out of the group.

“I hereby inform you that Fidesz MEPs resign their membership in the EPP group,” Orbán wrote to group leader Manfred Weber. He described the rule changes as “clearly a hostile move against Fidesz and our voters.”

Several officials and MEPs had said they were confident that, once the new rules were in place, the group would vote to suspend the 11-strong Fidesz faction. One Fidesz member is already suspended from the group.

Wednesday’s events mark the culmination of years of tensions within Europe’s center-right political family over Fidesz. More centrist members of the EPP have backed charges of backsliding on democracy and the rule of law leveled at the Hungarian government by EU institutions. Fidesz leaders have rejected the charges and lashed out at top EU and EPP officials.

Fidesz has been suspended from membership of the EPP party alliance since March 2019 but its MEPs had remained part of the EPP group in the European Parliament.

Lili Bayer contributed reporting.

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