The leader of the centre-right Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) has asked the European People’s Party chief and EPP members to cancel a vote today to expel Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz from the centre-right family, saying the EPP could otherwise risk a split just before the European elections.
“Mr President Daul, dear colleagues, please, do everything to avoid a split in the EPP family at the very beginning of the main EU elections campaign. Cancel or postpone the voting. Whatever the result will be, we lose,” janez Janša wrote in a dramatic letter to Joseph Daul, seen by EURACTIV Croatia.
“If we vote, no matter the outcome, we face an unavoidable split in the EPP. Picking this specific time of voting could not be more self-destructive,” the two-time prime minister added.
Janša put the blame on European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, also an EPP member, stating that Juncker was the one who started the dispute with Orbán.
“We agreed before the last congress at Helsinki not to discuss Fidesz membership in the EPP before the EU elections. But it was Juncker who (as president of the European Commission should in principle stay out of pure party politics) publicly called for Fidesz to be expelled from the EPP”.
Janša added that the EPP parties overwhelmingly backed as Spitzenkandidat Manfred Weber, who must stay out of the discussion over Orbán’s EPP future.
“With his involvement in the conflict, we gave a great gift to our political competitors just before the final phase of the electoral campaign,” Janša said.
“I am afraid that with the possible expulsion of Fidesz from the EPP, our political family will significantly lose ground in the major part of the Central and Eastern Europe,” Janša concluded.
The EPP is due to decide on Wednesday (20 March), at the request of 13 party members, whether or not to expel Orbán’s Fidesz party, following an anti-EU campaign against Juncker in Hungary.
Earlier today, German conservative leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer backed a suspension of Fidesz, rather than an outright expulsion.
She said suspension “would be a good option until trust was rebuilt with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán”.
Greece’s New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is also in favour of a suspension.
“If we reject him, then we are pushing him into the arms of Salvini (Movement for a Europe of Nations and Freedom- MENF)” a CDU source told EURACTIV Germany last week.
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