Onwards to victory! – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban held a very ambitious speech at the European People’s Party congress in Helsinki. According to Orban, without nations, Europe would lose its identity and would lose its spiritual and cultural character: “Europe will be a Europe of nations or it will be nothing.” He reminded that Europe has become stronger with the Central European nations, strong nations have always made Europe successful, and that this is still true today: “Without successful nations, there is no strong Europe.”
The prime minister made it clear that he supports the EPP and he wants the party family to win the European elections in 2019. An important factor to this victory is – according to him – is that the EPP regains its own identity instead of giving in to the socialists, liberals and greens who „want a Europe which has lost its roots and its spiritual identity”. His vision is a Europe of nations, which has „twenty-seven faces” and which is Christian and democratic. This Europe needs an EPP regain the trust of the people, they should see the party family as „their own party, which belongs to them, which represents them and which fights for them”. This also means that the EPP should accept its responsibility for some failures of the last five years: not being able to keep the British in Europe and the migrants out of Europe.
Orban called the EPP „the party of winners” and urged his colleagues not to trust those „who build their personal ambitions upon bringing critiques voiced by socialists and liberals into the EPP”. Socialists and liberals, not to mention NGOs and even certain members of the EPP have urged the party family to expel Fidesz, but – as Orban also pointed out – listening to them is against common sense. Socialists, liberals and greens want the EPP to lose the elections, so why would anyone in the party family think that accepting those demands would benefit them? It seems that even though EPP parties voiced some criticism towards Fidesz during the congress too, the expulsion of Hungary’s ruling party was clearly not on the agenda and most experts have predicted that this confrontation would be a bad idea in the campaign.
The Hungarian delegation supported Manfred Weber’s candidacy. This is no surprise taking into account that the other candidate, Alexander Stubb represents the liberal wing of the family and does not want to share it with Orban’s Fidesz. „We respect you as someone who always knows when it is time for debate, and when it is time for unity”, Orban told Weber in his speech. Hungary’s prime minister agrees with the new EPP Spitzenkandidat that the time for unity is now, division within the EPP would lead to disintegration in a critical moment.
According to the Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs, „by electing Manfred Weber, the EPP has closed ranks and has adopted a position that lies closer to the legacy of the founding fathers, including former German Chancellor, the late Helmut Kohl”. He also stressed that the “soul” and most important essence of Europe and the European Union is that it is made up of nations.
It’s not „only” the failures mentioned by Orban that should warn the EPP. One aspect of the party family’s identity crisis is the fact that no group has a majority in the European Parliament, so they are forced to constantly compromise. In theory this can of course be good but in practice the EPP is getting closer and closer to the socialists and the liberals. The other aspect is that those EPP members who are giving up their conservative and Christian democratic identity are becoming weaker.
It’s not only the logic of power that should stop EPP parties from embracing liberalism but also their responsibility towards the people of Europe. The continent is facing a number of serious challenges these days, one of them is mass immigration. Without protecting the identity of the European people the continent loses its ability to resist the „grand replacement”.
Without understanding this responsibility the EPP will not only lose the elections but also Europe, as we know her today.
Mariann Őry, head of foreign desk at Hungarian conservative daily newspaper Magyar Hírlap