May 31, 2019 / 6:15 AM / 6 months ago

Hungary's Fidesz might join new grouping in European parliament: PM

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary’s Fidesz party could join a new grouping in the European parliament if staying in the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) does not line up with national interests, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state radio on Friday.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban waves after addressing supporters, following the preliminary results of the European Parliament election in Budapest, Hungary, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

Fidesz was suspended from the EPP in March over Orban’s record on respect for the rule of law, freedom of the press and rights for minorities.

“We are members of the EPP right now and we will see which direction the EPP goes ... whether we can influence it and whether it is in line with the interests of Hungary and the Hungarian people,” Orban said.

“If yes, then we will stay, if not, we will sit in a new formation,” he said, without saying which alternative grouping Fidesz could join.

The EPP won the EU parliamentary election but with a shrinking share of seats, which obliges it to form a coalition with at least two other groups to obtain a majority.

Orban’s move to court far-right leaders in the run-up to the European election irked mainstream allies in the EPP grouping.

Orban also told radio the Visegrad four group in the European Union — Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic — had agreed to take a common stance in selecting new EU leaders.

“We will have a unified stance in personnel issues,” he said.

Regarding a new president of the European Commission, he said he would support a candidate who was anti-immigration, had “national feelings” and was “ready to defend” Christian culture.

“We have such a candidate in mind, not just one,” Orban said, declining to give any names.

Fidesz won more than 52% of votes in Hungary in the European parliamentary election on a hardline anti-immigration platform.

Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Edmund Blair

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