63% of MEPs sitting in the EPP voted against Orbán and Kaczyński
The EP decided on 16 January to advocate for further consultations and measures concerning breaches to the rule of law and stated that in the past period the situation only deteriorated in Hungary and Poland. The EP approved the resolution with a 67% majority.
The decision has direct implications as well: while it does not tie the hands of the Council in any way, it puts pressure on the Croatian presidency, which has not necessarily treated this topic as a priority so far.
The vote has important consequences with regards to Fidesz’s position within the European People’s Party (EPP). When the Sargentini-report was approved in September 2018, we said that it could mark the beginning of the end for Fidesz in the EPP. MEPs sitting in the EPP approved the most recent resolution with an even larger majority (63%) than the 2018 report (58%), while in 2017 only 34% of the group’s representatives voted for launching the Article 7 process against Hungary. The number of Fidesz allies in the European People’s Party has thus been declining gradually. Nevertheless, partners that still back the Hungarian ruling party are not marginal: the resolution in 2020 was rejected by the Italian, French and Spanish (as well as the Slovenian) delegations. Germany’s conservatives remain divided: the majority of CSU-affiliated MEPs approved the proposal (3 to 1), but the number of CDU’s MEPs who abstained (8) was almost as high as those who supported it (11).
The vote showed once again that Fidesz’s place in Europe is not necessarily in the group where its MEPs sit: 100% of the Identity and Democracy group and 88% of the ECR (where the Polish ruling party sits) rejected stronger measures against Poland and Hungary in rule of law-related issues.
The map detailing the support for the resolution by member state shows that newer member states are still more opposed to the rule of law procedure than older ones. The resolution met the most vigorous resistance in three Eastern-European countries: Hungary (35% approval rate), the Czech Republic (25%) and Croatia (36%). This is a clear indication that the Croatian government does not have a vested interest in stepping up stronger against breaches to the rule of law.