Viktor Orbán’s Bet on His Fellow Populists May Backfire

Fidesz's membership in the EPP is still on the fence

28 May 2019

With the 2019 European parliamentary elections finishing last Sunday, populists – led by Hungary’s Viktor Orbán – re-evaluate their possibilities of changing EU politics forever. But what is Orbán’s wisest bet?

Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz has been at the forefront of European populism since at least 2010 when the Hungarian prime minister’s centre-right party won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections before repeating its success in 2014 and 2018.

Since that time, many observers have focused on domestic developments, from the drafting of a new constitution to the passage of judicial and electoral reforms to the tightening of control over NGOs. With Fidesz voluntarily and indefinitely suspended from the European People’s Party (EPP), the focus of attention shifted to their European role and the question arises: what is about to happen now that a new European Parliament is elected?

Fidesz Stays With the EPP

Despite their anti-EU rhetoric, Fidesz MEPs have been remarkably loyal to the EPP. The eleven lawmakers have voted with the alliance 98 per cent of the time—more often than their German counterparts, according to Gianni Pittella, an Italian former MEP who led the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) until 2018.

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Károly Gergely

Hungarian freelance journalist at Magyar Hang and a reporter for The International Cybersecurity Dialogue. He completed a Russian and East European Studies master's at the University of Oxford and currently serves as a researcher and analyst.

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