The campaign poster, launched in February, featured the face of the commission's President Jean-Claude Juncker. The European Commission slammed the ideas in the campaign as false. Meanwhile, Juncker, who himself belongs to the European People's Party (EPP), suggested that the party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, did not belong in the centre-right group. Since his statement, the calls for Fidesz to leave have intensified.
The Hungarian prime minister called EPP members urging for his party's exit "useful idiots," whose attempts to exclude Fidesz would benefit only the EPP opponents on the left.
Change by March or Else
Manfred Weber, the group's top candidate to become the next head of the commission after the May election, said that Orban's party would have to leave unless it changed its behaviour and apologized. In a letter to the party's chairman, Joseph Daul, Weber reportedly stressed that Orban attacked EPP leaders and member parties.
Manfred suggested that the turnabout, should it happen, would have to take place before March 20, when the party is expected to discuss whether to expel Fidesz. However, to some EPP members, the behaviour of Fidesz and Orban is inexcusable.
What Fidesz Wants?
Orban's party said in a press release that it did not want to leave the EPP, but rather strengthen the anti-immigration forces inside it.
When asked to comment on the issue, a member of the European Parliament from Fidesz, Gyorgy Schopflin told Sputnik that "there is no point speculating on this before March 20."
Meanwhile, the Hungarian government's spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said earlier in the day that Budapest would not change its anti-migration position.
"We listen to other opinions, includ[ing] Weber’s. But more important than party discipline are the defence of European Christian values and stopping migration. On this, we cannot yield," Kovacs said on Twitter.
Hungary, as well as several other European countries, has objected to EU policy under which each member state is expected to take in a number of refugees.
Joerg Meuthen, a member of the Alternative for Germany, believes that Hungary does not have to follow Brussels' policy on migration.
"Brussels should reconsider its distribution policy in the interests of all member states. Europeans don’t want the distribution of migrants; they want the flow to be stopped," Meuthen told Sputnik.
Who Supports Fidesz
Mara Bizzotto, a member of the European Parliament's Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF/ENL) Group and of Italy's Lega, said that her group would gladly join forces with Fidesz.
"If the EPP wants to expel Prime Minister Orban from its ranks, we are ready to welcome him with open arms in the great sovereign and identity alliance we are working on for Europe… We, at La Lega, renew the invitation we already made last September," Bizzotto told Sputnik.
The Italian politician added that the polls indicated the group would do well at the upcoming election.
Gilles Lebreton, a member of the ENF and of the French National Rally party, similarly said the political club would welcome Orban's Fidesz.
"On the ideological level, Orban also seems to realize that he is closer to us than to the EPP, especially on the migration issue. Of course, we will gladly welcome him to the ENL group if he wishes to join us," Lebreton told Sputnik.
Fabio Massimo Castaldo, a member of the European Parliament who belongs to another major Italian party, Five Star Movement, backed Orban and argued that the case against his party was a blow to Weber's candidature.
"The request by 12 European parties belonging to the EPP to expel Fidesz from the party and the group represents a real motion of no confidence for his leadership. Europe is in crisis. It needs to be stronger and closer to the citizens. The EU cannot remain hostage to the feuds inside the European People's Party. We support Victor Orban’s positions," Castaldo told Sputnik.
Mario Borghezio, a member of the European Parliament and of Lega, pointed out to Sputnik that Weber is "well aware that, outside the EPP, Orban will be an even more important and significant actor in European politics."
The EPP currently holds 217 seats in the European Parliament, 12 of which belong to Fidesz. The second largest group, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), has 186 seats. The ENF has 37 seats.
The European Parliament election is scheduled for May 23-26.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.