The largest parliamentary faction, the European People’s Party (EPP), took an unprecedented step by attacking and suspending its own members. After the suspension of Fidesz’ membership, everyone is wondering what the future holds for the party – what will change in the event of their complete expulsion?
Precedent for “Fidesz”
The Hungarian group’s membership in the EU-leading transnational bloc has only been suspended, a possible decision on expulsion will be considered based on the results of the evaluation committee, the EPP said on Wednesday.
“Today, a clear decision was made to suspend the membership of the Fides Party. There were difficult but necessary discussions. The final decision on party membership will be made on the basis of the work of the evaluation committee, which the EPP will create for this purpose,” said Manfred Weber, who is also a candidate for the head of the European Commission.
He confirmed that, for the time being, Viktor Orban’s party will no longer be able to vote in the EPP, take part in meetings or nominate candidates for posts. Joseph Daul also declared that:
#Fidesz will be suspended with immediate effect and until further notice following today’s vote of EPP members (190 in favour, 3 against). The suspension entails:
▪No attendance at any party meeting
▪No voting rights
▪No right to propose candidates for posts
— Joseph Daul (@JosephDaul) March 20, 2019
At the same time, despite the harsh conditions, Orban confirmed that Fidesz would support Manfred Weber’s candidature for the post of European Commission head.
The Future of the EPP
Judging by the fact that a relative compromise was found between Fidesz and the EPP in choosing suspension over expulsion, and that the commission considering actual removal will need at least 3 months to make a recommendation, there will likely be no dramatic changes until the European elections in May.
However, it is likely that after the elections, discussions on the composition of the EPP and conditions of party loyalty will resume. The price for the EPP is high – in the event of the actual departure of Fidesz and its supporters, the association risks losing a significant number of seats in Parliament. Opinion polls last week point to heavy losses for Christian Democrats.
In the upcoming European elections in May, 705 deputies will be elected representing almost 500 million Europeans, which will make these elections the largest transnational elections in history. Both national parties and independent candidates will participate.
According to Politico, the EPP can only possibly win 174 seats out of 705 in the new European Parliament, the lowest forecast since June 2018. The EPP polled at 181 seats in January and currently holds 217 seats out of 751.