We hope this is the beginning of a wonderful European friendship

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Manfred Weber visited Budapest on Friday. The President of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and leader of its group in the European Parliament met with the President of the smaller Hungarian governing party, the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP), Zsolt Semjén, and the Vice-President of the TISZA Party, Péter Magyar. Magyar announced Weber’s arrival on Wednesday.

„The president and I will discuss the TISZA Party’s seven elected MEPs joining the EPP group,”

he wrote.

I am back after five years, and it is good to be here,” Weber said. He stressed that the European People’s Party won the EP elections held less than a week ago by a large margin, which shows that people are supportive of centre-right principles. One of their key principles is to save European democracy and to fight for the rule of law and against corruption, which is why they also fought for these in the case of Hungary. Competitiveness and peace are also one of their key values. Weber described his current trip as an information-gathering mission, and said that their door is open, but the decision on behalf of the group would be made on Tuesday.

We hope this is the beginning of a wonderful European friendship,” Magyar said. He said this was the best place for representing the interests of Hungarians, that they were committed to a constructive relationship and would start work in Brussels next week, but added that they would be critical at times, as they had some sensitive issues. The centre-right is stronger than ever, with Viktor Orbán’s futile attempt to take Brussels bringing him his worst result in a long time, which Magyar sees as the beginning of the end for Fidesz.

What would Tisza be joining and what does it have to do with KDNP?

The European People’s Party refers to:

  • a family of European parties (made up of parties, and which includes members from outside the EU as well);
  • a „political group” in the European Parliament, which is not exclusively composed of members of the party family.

For the time being, the TISZA MEPs would only join the faction.

Photo: Orsi Ajpek / Telex

Photo: Orsi Ajpek / Telex

Weber first consulted Zsolt Semjén, President of KDNP, who after the meeting said:

„We have made it clear – and I want to emphasize that this was done in the spirit of rectitude and honesty – that if Péter Magyar is admitted to the EPP group or the Tisza Party is admitted to the EPP, KDNP will have no other option but to leave. I would like to underline that we have not made the decision to leave, but we have said frankly that the person of Péter Magyar is unacceptable for us in the parliamentary group and the Tisza Party is unacceptable in the European People’s Party’.

KDNP will therefore leave if Magyar joins the EPP group; or if Tisza is admitted to ‘the’ EPP; but even though no decision has been taken yet, some of the press interpreted this as KDNP leaving.

In fact, Semjén’s words imply the exact opposite. The first condition is ruled out by Magyar’s earlier claim that he would not be taking up his seat in the European Parliament. The second is ruled out by the fact that Tisza has not applied to join the party family, which Népszava also says could be vetoed by the KDNP.

Sources from the EPP told the paper that in the latter case, member parties can use their right to veto if they oppose the admission of new members, while in case of the former, the faction confirmed to Telex that the decision is made by a majority vote.

KDNP’s MEP György Hölvényi’s Facebook post is also very clear: „The European People’s Party is important for the KDNP. However, the person of Péter Magyar is unacceptable to us in the EPP parliamentary group, as is the inclusion of the Tisza Party in the umbrella party.” In other words, the latter is about the party family, which TISZA does not intend to join (and if it does, KDNP can always use a veto, so it probably wouldn’t be able to).

Earlier, Hölvényi had stressed the same distinction to Euronews, indicating that „joining the party is a different and significantly longer process.” He added that „the fact that seven MEPs from the TISZA party would come here won’t affect our membership”.

How could TISZA and KDNP end up next to each other?

„We would like to join the EPP, I would like to emphasize this again”, Péter Magyar told Telex earlier. “The reason why we will join them is because they will be the biggest group, they have so far been the biggest group. Working with this faction, with this party will provide our MEPs with the best chance of gaining important positions in the European Parliament and perhaps, even in other EU institutions.”

Indeed, according to the currently available figures, the European People’s Party will have by far the largest group in the new EP. The group can expect 189 seats out of 720, with the Socialists in second place with 135.

Except, other than being a member of the EPP family of parties, KNDP is there in the parliamentary group too. This is the group that Fidesz left in 2021 when it was on its way to being expelled, after already having been suspended. Following Fidesz’ departure, KDNP’s György Hölvényi stayed. He is also the only KDNP candidate on the current joint EP election list of the two Hungarian governing parties.

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