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WHAT’S NEW(S) – 05/03/2021

 WHAT’S NEW(S) – 05/03/2021

A final farewell

“The end of a story of romance and betrayal” that is how Spanish newspaper El Confidencial described the divorce between Prime Minister Victor Orbán’s Fidesz party and the EPP, the centre-right block in the European Parliament. Tensions between the EPP group and its controversial member have been accumulating for years, but the introduction of new suspension rules by the EPP, finally made Victor Orbán decide to pull out. How was this event described by the European press?

You'll find the script below :

A surprising move, or perhaps not, when Hungarian Victor Orbán’s Fidesz party quit the center-right bloc in the European Parliament this Wednesday after the EPP group introduced new rules, by Orban himself described as ‘a hostile move against Fidesz and its voters’.

Can you tell us how this break-up was described in the European press?

After years of matrimonial dispute, the divorce is now through” stated German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. “Victor Orbán leaves the European People’s Party, the end of a story of romance and betrayal” were the words of Nacho Alarcon in Spanish newspaper El Confidencial. According to Politico’s correspondent Maïa de la Baume. “The events mark the culmination of years of tensions within Europe’s center-right political family over Fidesz”.

And why did Orbán quit the group just now, when there have been tensions for years between his party and the EPP ?

Indeed, since concerns over rule-of-law violations and controversial statements have put Fidesz in the European spotlight, relationships between the EPP family and its controversial member have been troubled. In March 2019, Politico reported “Europe’s most powerful political family imposed a timeout on its troublesome son but stopped short of kicking him out.” Fidesz was suspended, but not completely expelled, with Fidesz’ parliament members still remaining in the group. On February 26 the group introduced new suspension rules, moving a step closer to suspend the party for good. This Wednesday, Victor Orbán, decided to pull out himself after what Der Spiegel described as a ‘dramatic escalation’.A welcome resolution of a long-standing and increasingly damaging problem for the EPP”, according to the Guardian. The party will now probably join the Eurosceptic European Conservative and Reformists, dominated by Poland’s PiS party, or the far-right nationalist Identity & Democracy group, suggests the newspaper.

But besides Orban’s move, what else made the press in EU member states this week, starting with Germany ?

The hot topic of the week was the announcement by various German media that the far-right Alternative Fur Deutschland party was under surveillance by the Interior Ministry. According to Der Spiegel, the party was listed as "suspected" of right-wing extremism. Also on Wednesday however the Administrative Court upheld an appeal by the AfD, making the Ministry of Interior delete the passage in which it described the party as “right-wing extremist”, reported the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The Ministry was ordered to announce the correction via a press release. Another international investigation also made the German media, the one opened by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes in Palestinian territories during the 2014 Gaza war. And, on a funny note, Germans can from this Monday return to the hairdresser after more than two months of closure.

And how about Spain ?

Two members of the Spanish royal family, King Felipe's two sisters, flew to Abu Dhabi to visit former King Juan Carlos and received the Covid vaccine. The Spanish embassy confirmed to TV la Sexta that this is something illegal. Last week Juan Carlos adjusted his fiscal situation by paying more than 4 million euros to the Spanish tax authorities. Other than that, Spain is getting ready for Easter holidays, a very important period with a great number of people travelling all over the country. Most of the autonomous communities are in favour of a perimetral closure, practically all of them except Madrid, which is again reluctant to restrict freedom of movement.

And how about the Netherlands, where a remarkable event marked the news this Wednesday ?

Indeed, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, the inhabitants of the tiny town Bovenkarspel were startled by an explosion in a Corona-test centre. According to the Dutch media, the police assumes that it was an intended attack. The explosion, that did not leave any victims, even made the international media. “Dutch Covid test centre hit by suspected bomb attack” was the headline in the Guardian. Dutch newspaper Parool cited outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte and minister of Health Hugo de Jonge, who described the attack as “completely unacceptable” and “horrifying.” The event took place in the run-up to the general elections held on March 17, which will reveal if the electorate expresses its support to the strict Corona measures currently still put in place.

Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

Image : European People's Party, CC BY 2.0