With only weeks to go before the European Parliament elections, the Hungarian ruling Fidesz party announced it will not support Manfred Weber for European Commission President, even though he is the candidate of the EPP center right party where Fidesz belongs.
The announcement came after Weber, who is frequently pressed by the Brussels media to denounce Fidesz and its leader, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, said that he doesn’t want the support of the Fidesz members of the European Parliament.
In response to this insulting comment, Orban said that the party MEPs will definitely not vote for Weber. Fidesz is currently suspended from the EPP on a mutually agreed basis, following complaints from a number of more centrist EPP parties. Several of the more conservative EPP parties, on the other hand, threaten to leave the EPP with Orban if Fidesz is definitely expelled from the group.
With the worries of a split in the EPP growing, Orban met with Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and with Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz Christian Strache, opening the prospect of formalizing the existence of a separate European conservative movement lead by Orban.
The EPP is widely expected to win the European elections, but a definite split with Orban could endanger its chances of leading the next Commission, if the results are tighter than expected.