Monday

18th Mar 2019

Hungarian PM breaks ranks on Juncker

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said he will not support Jean-Claude Juncker's bid to become president of the European Commission even if the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) wins the European elections.

Orban is the first EPP leader to publicly break ranks on the issue.

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"We don't think he should lead the Commission," Orban said in an interview with Hir TV on the eve of the election.

The EPP supported Orban's ruling Fidesz party when the government was under criticism over questions of rule of law, media freedom and constitutional changes. Orban said "there is no way" he would vote for Juncker.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron is known to oppose both Juncker and the Socialist top candidate, Martin Schulz, as leaders of the next European Commission because he considers them too federalist.

Orban shares Cameron's anti-federalist view, often referring to a "community of nation states" as the way forward for the EU.

He has also argued that "the commissioner from Luxembourg has only hurt Hungary in the past", a reference to Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, who led the charge against Orban's constitutional changes.

"So Hungarians cannot support a Luxembourger," he said, in reference to Juncker who was Luxembourg's Prime Minister until last year.

Fidesz is expected to win between 11 and 14 of Hungary's 21 seats in the European Parliament.

The country is expected to have a record low turnout at the election. By 3pm on Sunday, only 19 percent of the electorate had voted. Five years ago at the same time, participation was at 24 percent.

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A handful of Liberal, Green, leftist and anti-establishment MEPs dealing with culture have called for a boycott against the Juncker commission because of his Hungarian nominee.

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