On 20 March, Liberal and Democrat MEPs from the ALDE Group in the European Parliament reacted with incredulity at the decision by the European People’s Party to "suspend" the membership terms of Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz Party, despite the fact that 13 of their own member parties called for the party to be expelled.
Fidesz MEPs will apparently continue as full members of the EPP Group in the European Parliament. The ALDE Group has consistently called on the EPP to expel Fidesz from the mainstream of European politics, for their systematic acts against the EU's fundamental values.
Guy Verhofstadt MEP, President of the ALDE Group, commented:
“The decision to temporarily suspend the terms of Fidesz’s membership of the EPP Party is a political trick that shames Europe. This stitch up shows the EPP will always put parliamentary numbers ahead of the collective European interest. The very narrow conditions of the agreement show that EPP does not care about the rule of law, democratic checks and balances, an independent and impartial judiciary or a pluralist media – they only care about themselves. Disgracefully, nothing will change for Fidesz MEPs, who will be free to continue to sit in the EPP Group in the European Parliament. ”
“For too long, the supposedly pro - European EPP have provided safe harbour for Viktor Orbán, while he undermines the rule of law in Hungary and relentlessly attacks liberal democratic values.”
Sophie In ‘t Veld MEP reacted to the news:
“With just a few weeks to go before the European elections it’s clear the EPP, once seen as a stable pro - European pillar of European politics, is in total chaos. They claim to have respect for EU values, while systematically undermining them. Today’s process was a sham trial and the outcome a disgrace. The EPP have lost any moral authority to lead a modern Europe and Manfred Weber's bid for the Presidency of the European Commission lies in tatters. How can Mr Weber be trusted to police the rule of law in Europe, when he can't even do so in his own party? ”
“The authoritarian behavior of Viktor Orbán and the refusal of the EPP to expel him has tainted them as a once mighty European force. It is time for centrist, pro- European voters and indeed some of the EPP’s own delegations to look for a new political home, with those who will defend the rule of law and liberal democracy.”