Hungary’s governing Fidesz leaves European party group

March 18, 2021 GMT

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary’s governing party announced Thursday it would resign from its conservative European political family, bringing an end to years of conflict within the group over Hungary’s record on democratic values and the rule of law.

A resignation letter released in a tweet by Katalin Novak, Hungary’s minister for family affairs and vice-president of the ruling Fidesz party, declared that Fidesz “no longer wishes to maintain its membership in the European People’s Party.”

“It’s time to say goodbye,” Novak wrote in the tweet.

European People’s Party President Donald Tusk immediately retorted: “FIDESZ has left Christian Democracy. In truth, it left many years ago.”

Fidesz’s withdrawal notice was largely a formality. The right-wing party quit the EPP’s caucus in the European Union parliament two weeks ago after the center-right group overwhelmingly passed a resolution that would make it easier to expel Fidesz members.

A vote on expelling Fidesz from the EPP was expected as soon as the coronavirus pandemic allowed for an in-person meeting.

The party’s membership in the European People’s Party was suspended in 2019 over concerns that it was eroding the rule of law in Hungary, engaging in anti-Brussels rhetoric and attacking the EPP leadership. Fidesz has led the Hungarian government since 2010.

Some of the EPP’s more moderate national delegations had pushed for Fidesz’s expulsion, arguing it no longer represented the group’s values. The EPP Group, the party’s caucus in the European Parliament, wrote in December that “the frequent attacks by Fidesz’s representatives towards the European Union and its values are not in line with the core beliefs of the EPP.”