Peter Magyar speaks during a protest in front of the Hungarian Interior Ministry building in Budapest. EPA-EFE/Tibor Illyes


EPP boost after Orbán arch-nemesis joins parliamentary group


MEP Péter Magyar, leader of Hungary’s Tisza opposition party, has joined the European People’s Party (EPP).

Magyar, the ex-husband of former Hungarian Justice Minister Judith Varga, was a former member of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party, but left shortly after divorcing his wife and denouncing alleged instances of corruption within the country’s judicial system.

Tisza now joins the EPP with seven MEPs after winning 29.6 per cent of the vote in the country’s European elections, landing three fewer seats than Fidesz.

Speaking in the wake of the news, Magyar added that he would be taking up the mantle of MEP despite initially promising not to.

The list leader had said during that campaign that he would avoid taking up his seat to focus on Hungarian politics.

“Earlier I stated, that being an MEP is not in my plans. However, since then, many people (including the community of the Tisza party and influential European politicians and my advisers) have been trying to convince me otherwise,” he said.

Magyar added that his decision to “lead” Hungary’s political opposition from Brussels would “open up opportunities for the Tisza party” and allow it to build international connections.

Not everyone is happy about Tisza joining the EPP.

Fidesz’s domestic coalition partner, the Christian People’s Party (KDNP), announced on June 18 it would be leaving the group just as Magyar’s faction was joining.

The KDNP, through party chairman Zsolt Semjén and representative György Hölvényi, made it clear after meeting with EPP chairman Manfred Weber that they could not identify with “the EPP’s war doctrine”.

For “moral reasons”, the pair added, the party could not remain in the same group as Tisza.

“This EPP is no longer what its Christian-Democratic founders created as a result of its shift to the left that lost its identity,” they said.

Shortly before the announcement, Magyar had said that he “did not understand” how Hölvényi could still be a member of the EPP.

In addition to Tisza’s seven MEPs, the EPP has gained another seven, bringing in a total of 14 new members. They come from the Czech Republic in the form of Mayors and Independents (STAN), The Netherlands’ New Social Contract and BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB), the Danish Liberal Alliance and the Family Party of Germany.

“The EPP Group consolidates its position as by far the strongest political Group in the European Parliament,” the group stated.