Wednesday

26th Jan 2022

Orbán hosts first major meeting on new rightwing alliance

Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orbán on Thursday (1 April) will host in Budapest Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the leader of the Italian rightwing party, the League, Matteo Salvini, in an effort to build a European alliance, a Hungarian government spokesperson said.

Orbán's Fidesz party left the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) earlier this month.

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At the time the Hungarian premier wrote that task is to "build a European democratic right that offers a home to European citizens who do not want migrants, who do not want multiculturalism, who have not descended into LGBTQ lunacy, who defend Europe's Christian traditions, who respect the sovereignty of nations, and who see their nations not as part of their past, but as part of their future".

Orbán has been in talks with Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS), which is aligned with the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament, and the League, which is part of the Identity and Democracy Party ID), a coalition of nationalist, rightwing parties.

Orbán has said his intention is to create a new party group within the EU.

Salvini held consultations with Orbán over video-link in early March about vaccinations, the post-pandemic economic recovery, migration and family policy, the Hungarian government added.

On Tuesday, Salvini - whose party currently supports Mario Draghi's government- sounded muted about actually forming a new party at the meeting.

"Creating a shared charter of values, of freedom, of rights, of principles, of future objectives … will be the subject of the meeting with the Hungarian and Polish prime ministers," he told reporters in Rome, according to AFP.

Salvini also said the three men would sign a declaration on common values and goals.

"No joint party group will be formed," he was quoted by Hungarian news wire MTI as saying.

He added that in Budapest they will discuss the vision of the post-Covid Europe, work, welfare, security, identity, family, education, migration, foreign policy, and health cooperation.

Salvini added that "his dream" is to unite the party family of ID and the ECR, which would create the second-largest faction in the European Parliament.

It would "make Europe great again, returning to its original values," Salvini was quoted by MTI.

Attempt at marriage

Currently, the ID has 74 MEPs in the parliament, making it the fourth-largest faction with the League's 27 MEPs. ECR is the sixth-largest with 63 MEPs.

There have been attempts after the 2019 European elections to unite far-right parties under one political umbrella, but those have failed.

Part of the reason was that PiS and League - and other parties in the two camps - have deeply diverging views on Russia.

ECR also counts the Italian Brothers of Italy (FDI), a smaller far-right party with roots in neo-fascism, among its members, which is in domestic competition with the League, and remained in opposition in Italy.

Last week was the first time that PiS and Fidesz - which has 12 MEPs who are now non-attached - issued a joint statement together in a sign of moving closer on the parliament's platform.

"Orbán's maneuvers matter. While Fidesz only contributes a small num-ber of MEPs, its leader is a magnet for other populist forces in Europe," Milan Nič and Julian Rappold, senior fellows at the German Council of Foreign Relations have said in a recent study.

"He [Orbán] needs both of them [the PiS and the League]," Nič told EUobserver, adding that's why he hosting the meeting. Nič said PiS would need some guarantees or an offer of a loose partnership of parties, such as Orbán offered to EPP before leaving the political family.

Opinion

Orbán leaves EPP group - the beginning of a long endgame

Aside from the EPP, Hungary was also protected - at a member states' level - by key bilateral partners; and not only illiberal countries like Poland, Bulgaria or recently Slovenia - but most importantly also by Germany.

Analysis

Relief in EPP group, as Orbán's party finally leaves

The debate over Fidesz had become an unbearable political burden on EPP - but it also represented a core dilemma for many centre-right, mainstream parties struggling to deal with their populist challengers.

Orbán and von der Leyen to tussle on EU recovery funds

Viktor Orbán has one key card in his hands: Hungary has still not approved the legislation necessary for the EU Commission to raise money on the markets. However, it will be difficult to hold out on this.

Study casts doubt on possible far-right MEP alliance

A study from the London School of Economics found both political and economic nativism divides far-right MEPs across Europe, casting doubt on a possible future alliance - as proposed by Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orbán.

Feature

15 years on: How are Bulgaria and Romania doing in the EU?

The latest European Commission health report puts the pair of south-eastern EU accession states last in terms of the overall lifespan of their citizens. Romanians and Bulgarian now die even younger than before.

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