Europe's centre-right party votes to suspend Hungarian nationalists from parliament

Hungary's Prime Minister Victor Orban speaks at a press conference at the end of a European People's Party meeting at the European Parliament in Brussels

An evaluation commission led by former EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy will now follow developments within the Fidesz party.

"Fidesz will be suspended with immediate effect and until further notice following today's vote of EPP members (190 in favour, 3 against)", EPP President Joseph Daul said on Twitter.

Under the terms of the suspension, Orban's Fidesz party will be unable to attend or cast votes in EPP meetings or propose candidates for posts. These decisions should be reversed, it said, adding that Fidesz did not have a place within the EPP family.

The suspension means that Fidesz, which has been accused of violating European Union values, will no longer vote in the party, will not be allowed to participate in meetings, or nominate candidates for party positions.

Faced with tough European Union elections in May, some EPP members are also anxious that punishing Mr Orban will cost them support from anti-immigrant voters who back Mr Orban's tough line. But it was still the strongest move against him from a political group that until now had done little to condemn his use of anti-Semitic imagery, his steady erosion of democratic institutions and his disdain for what Europe has often said are its core values.

Fidesz had faced expulsion from the EPP after running a controversial billboard campaign that accused European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and liberal USA billionaire George Soros, a bete-noire of Orban, of plotting to flood Europe with migrants.

Hungary Orban: Europe's centre-right EPP suspends Fidesz
The Latest: EU Parliament bloc suspends Hungary's Fidesz

"Exclusion of Fidesz is on the table", Weber added, saying the committee will have the "final judgement" on what to do with Fidesz.

A membership "freeze" would be an option, the leader of Germany's Christian Democrats (CDU) said. He had also called for kicking Fidesz out.

The campaign has since been dropped and Orban has apologized for insulting partners from the EPP - the mainstream conservative group of MEPs - though the party leadership had warned this was not enough.

However, the EPP's willingness to take expulsion off the table, for now, was partly motivated by fear that Orban could easily set up a new political party with Poland's ruling Law and Order party led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski and Italy's League of interior minister Matteo Salvini, on an anti-migration platform.

Kramp-Karrenbauer, frontrunner eventually to succeed German Chancellor Angela Merkel, attended Wednesday's meeting in person to confirm to delegates that her party, the largest in the EPP, would back suspending Fidesz and setting up the committee.

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