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Europe’s Largest Party Suspends Its Resident Autocrat—for Now

Why Brussels’ Faustian Bargain With Viktor Orban Endures

Orban during his annual state of the nation speech in Budapest, February 2019  Bernadett Szabo/REUTERS

Less than two months ahead of elections to the European Parliament, the body’s largest party is in disarray. The European People’s Party (EPP), a center-right, pro-EU alliance of more than 40 national member parties, has been roiled by a dispute over how to deal with its enfant terrible: the far-right nationalist party Fidesz, led by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Since 2010, Orban has taken Hungary far enough down the road to autocracy that the NGO Freedom House demoted the country from “free” to “partly free” in its 2019 report—a first in EU history. Fidesz’s slide into authoritarianism has drawn growing criticism from the European Parliament, including from many EPP backbenchers. But it took a blatant anti-EU campaign by Fidesz, featuring unflattering posters of Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission and one of the EPP’s own, for the EPP to take action. At a party conference

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