Hungary's Orban turns back to EPP in surprise move before European elections

Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-25 00:15:15|Editor: yan
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BUDAPEST, May 24 (Xinhua) -- Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban backed the European People's Party, the European parliament's main center-right grouping, again after withdrawing his support from the EPP's top candidate a few weeks ago, according to a statement posted Friday on the Hungarian government's website.

"I want the EPP (European People's Party) to win the European Parliament election," Orban told German newspaper Bild in an interview, said the statement.

"But afterwards there will be a debate on the direction it (the EPP) takes," Orban added.

Orban's sudden support for the EPP came as a surprise, as he had publicly withdrawn his support for the EPP's top candidate Manfred Weber a few weeks ago.

"The Hungarian government cannot support a person to head the European Commission who said he did not want to be Commission president with the votes of Hungarians," Orban said then. This, he said, amounted to "a violation of the principle of respect for voters".

Orban had made the remarks at a joint press conference in Budapest on May 7, with Heinz-Christian Strache, the Austrian vice chancellor.

But on May 18, Strache, who is also leader of the right-wing populist Freedom Party, resigned over a scandal in which he appeared in a video offering government contracts in exchange for political support.

The scandal dealt a blow to the far right forces in the European Union. The exit polls in the Netherlands, where voting was done on Thursday, had shown that surprisingly, the pro-Europe Labor Party (PvdA) led the elections.

According to the definite exit poll by research bureau Ipsos announced by national broadcaster NOS on Thursday night, half an hour after polling stations were closed, PvdA would get 5 of the total 26 Dutch seats in the European parliament, 2 more than five years ago during the 2014 elections.

The result can be considered a pro-Europe vote. The PvdA campaign leader is Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the European Commission, and lead candidate of the European socialists. Timmermans wants to become the next president of the European Commission.