A top member of the European Union’s largest political bloc will meet with Viktor Orban in what may be the Hungarian prime minister’s last chance to avoid potential expulsion from the continent’s political mainstream later this month.
Manfred Weber, the European People’s Party’s candidate to lead the EU executive, was expected to meet with Orban in Budapest on Tuesday to discuss an ultimatum he gave to the Hungarian premier as a condition for staying in the center-right political family. Weber also may deliver an offer from senior party leaders for an EPP mission that would be charged with bringing Orban’s illiberal policies into line with EU norms, Germany’s Bild newspaper reported.
The conflict between Orban and his political allies in Europe is boiling over just as Europe’s mainstream parties prepare to clash with resurgent nationalist forces in European Parliament elections in May. Orban, a four-term premier, has been a thorn in the side of his political allies for retaining his place in the center-right group while becoming a standard-bearer for nationalists due to his anti-immigrant views and his curtailment of liberal democracy at home.
“Mainstream parties set themselves apart by having diverse factions, but there are limits,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday in Berlin after a meeting of her CDU party, which is considered to be the most influential group within the EPP.