Three Right-of-centre Groups in the European Union's Parliament

Situation__Normal - [original thread]

There are three right-of-centre groups in the European Union's parliament:

  1. The European People's Party (EPP), ironically the least populist of the three. It's "right-wing" in the same way that Angela Merkel is "right-wing" — in fact, her party is the biggest member. It's been the biggest group in the European Parliament for twenty years, and it consistently sides with groups to its left, namely the Socialists & Democrats (S&D), rather than anyone to its right.

  2. The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), the smallest [of the three]. It used to be bigger and more mainstream — it notably included Britain's Conservative Party, and it's the GOP's official European partner — but since Brexit its biggest member has been Poland's ruling Law and Justice Party, which international observers love to decry as illiberal or authoritarian.

  3. Identity and Democracy (ID), the latest in a long series of rebrandings for a far-right group. In previous iterations it was led by Marine Le Pen's National Front, but as ID its de facto leader has been Matteo Salvini, who runs Italy's far-right Lega Nord and has shifted the group's ideology away from its former Euroskepticism.

Why am I talking about this? Because of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. His party Fidesz has been a member of EPP since 2004, a fact which many of the group's other members hate. They see his authoritarian reputation as a blemish on their enlightened centrism, so they've been trying to kick him out for years. In the past their attempts were mostly unsuccessful, since Orbán likes being close to power and EPP leadership likes his 12 delegates (which is big for a single party in the European Parliament). But this détente ended last month: the EPP voted to change its rules so its members could vote to eject parties, and Orbán preemptively quit.

So now Fidesz is shopping around for a new home. Since the EPP drama started he's flirted with both ECR and ID, as both are appealing options: on one hand, Hungary shares deep historical ties (and an authoritarian reputation) with Poland; on the other hand, Salvini's group is bigger and Orbán's ideology may be a better fit there. Which way he'll go has been a hot topic for speculation over the last month. But now there's a new development:

Some of the continent’s most prominent right-wing parties—Italy’s League, Poland’s Law and Justice, and Hungary’s Fidesz—are seeking to build a new alliance to boost their clout at the European Union level. This month, League leader Salvini, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban held a high-level meeting in Budapest, Hungary, with more talks expected as early as May.

The three parties [...] are hammering out a political platform that includes protecting Europe’s roots against “soulless multiculturalism,” stemming immigration, and defending the traditional family. He says they are working to improve coordination when votes on these issues are held in Brussels.

In the current European Parliament, the far-right is divided into two relatively small groups. [...] If they were combined, including Fidesz, they’d be the second-biggest group in the European Parliament—just behind the EPP but ahead of the social democrats.

Needless to say, this would be a seismic change for the European Parliament makeup. I'll close with some predictions:

  • Fidesz, ECR, and ID join forces to create a far-right super-group in the European Parliament: 30%

  • Fidesz instead joins ID: 45%

  • Conditional on a merger, at least one party leaves ECR: 60%

  • ... at least one party leaves ID: 30%

  • ... that party is Le Pen's: 20%

  • ... after the 2024 election, the merged group is the largest in the European Parliament: 30%