Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has declined to join a proposed populist “supergroup” in the European Parliament led by Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini. 

Orban’s chief of staff Gergely Gulyas held a press conference to announce that the Fidesz party have opted to remain a member of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), despite being suspended from the group in March.

 “We respect the Italian deputy prime minister and the Italian government and the result, which made the Northern League Italy’s strongest party after the European Parliament election,” Gulyas said, but added: “Nonetheless, I see not much chance for a co-operation on a party level or in a joint parliamentary group.”

Gulyas further explained that there are members of the supergroup that Hungary could no longer work with.  He also stressed that it would not be to Fidesz’s disadvantage to remain part of the EPP family.

After the suspension in March, Orbán expressed that his party was looking into the possibility of establishing alliances with other parties in Europe, including the Italian populists:

“Hungary is too small to enforce its opinion in Europe. Media, NGOs, universities in Europe are all against us and can destroy us. That’s why we need strong allies,” he explained.

There were speculations that Orban would join Salvini after he called the Italian deputy prime minister his “hero” for stopping illegal migrants coming to Italy via the Mediterranean Sea. 

In May, Orban declared his admiration for Salvini again calling him “the most important person in Europe today”.

Hungary’s controversial decision is not the only setback for Salvini’s new populist group, with a source telling The Sun newspaper that talks on bringing in Nigel Farage and his new Brexit Party fell through. It has been reported that Farage’s talks with Salvini and Marine Le Pen broke down after he allegedly said he would sign up his Brexit Party’s 29 MEPs — the joint largest single party in Brussels after last week’s elections — only if he is appointed the leader.

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