The Republikon Institute organised the “On separate routes: After the divorce of the Fidesz and the European People’s Party (EPP)” in which the participants discussed the history of the conflict between the Fidesz and the EPP and how this separation can impact the two forces and as the hole the European Union and Hungary.
Gábor Horn, the President of the Republikon Institute’s Advisory Board, started the panel discussion. He was followed by Andrea Virág, Republikon’s Director of Strategy, who also moderated the talk. Péter Balázs (Professeur at CEU, former Minister of Foreign Affairs) and István Szent-Iványi (former member of the European and the Hungarian Parliament, Ambassador of Ljubljana) participated in the discussion.
In his welcome speech, Gábor Horn emphasised that the split has been an expected consequence of the relationship between Fidesz and the EPP’s. All this has raised important questions about what route the European Union and Hungary will take in the future.
Both Péter Balázs and István Szent-Iványi agreed that the Fidesz’s exit was only an attempt to save their remaining reputation, but the conflict can be traced back to the abuse of their veto power and the 2019 suspension. In addition, they think that the EPP is the clear winner of the separation, as it has improved its image and has begun to restore its credibility. However, the situation of Fidesz is both described as isolated because Fidesz representatives can no longer participate in any European committee. They both argued that Hungary is unlikely to experience a withdrawal of money and resources because of the separation. If it happens, it would be to a limited extent and in specific areas. However, they pointed out that Fidesz recently has been careful about their policy decision and financial plans, not to violate the Rule of Law and to not get into direct conflict with the EU.
Péter Balázs linked the deterioration of Fidesz’s situation to its double standard to the EU, wanting more from it than giving back in cooperation. Moreover, Fidesz continued this behaviour in the EPP, which eventually led to the split. He also believes that Viktor Orbán’s attempt to form a new far-right party in the European Parliament will not be successful. However, he mentions that the opposition parties can benefit from the exit, as they are the only ones representing Hungary in the European Committees.
István Szent-Iványi found it essential in the split that it now happened two years after the suspension. He argued that it is the consequence of the German Christian Democratic Union’s (CDU) priorities to switch due to the upcoming election. In his opinion, Fidesz is likely to join the European Conservatives and Reformists shortly. Still, he had concerns about the cooperation as the situation has deteriorated so far due to their pride and arrogance, and they would not have a leading role in the new political family. He thinks that opposition parties are experiencing appreciation because of the situation. However, it will only be permanent if they can also show that they can win the election and govern the country together.
Co-founded by the Europe for Citizens Programme
of the Europen Union