French President Emmanuel Macron said the European People’s Party’s decision to suspend but not expel Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party was evidence of a “clan mentality.”
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Speaking to reporters after the European Council summit in Brussels, Macron said the EPP’s vote was “undoubtedly good news for Orbán and the EPP” but not “for the European project.”
“This decision looks tremendously like all the decisions that have been taken for many years, that’s to say it gives priority to the clan mentality instead of the strength of ideas,” Macron said, adding that he has “a very good relationship” with Orbán.
On Wednesday, the EPP voted in favor of suspending Fidesz from the EPP after the Hungarian government launched a billboard campaign targeting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, a senior member of the EPP. A total of 13 EPP member parties, primarily from Northern Europe and the Benelux countries, had demanded Fidesz be suspended or expelled.
Under the terms of the suspension, Fidesz will have to meet a number of conditions and a panel will judge whether the party is acting in accordance with the EPP’s rules and values.
But Macron said he had a hard time understanding the EPP decision, saying “it wasn’t clear” what had taken place. “I understood that nothing would change [for Fidesz after the EPP vote],” he said, adding that he felt sympathy for Juncker and “all of those who felt insulted and had asked for something clear.”