BUDAPEST -- Hungary's ruling Fidesz party has quit the European People's Party (EPP) in the European Parliament after the conservative grouping approved new internal rules.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced the move in a letter to EPP parliamentary group leader Manfred Weber on March 3 that was posted on Twitter by one of his ministers.
The decision comes after the EPP changed its internal rules earlier in the day to allow entire parties to be thrown out, rather than just individual members -- a change that was billed as a way to expel Fidesz from the largest faction in the EU legislature.
"The amendments to the rules of the EPP Group are clearly a hostile move against Fidesz and our voters...This is anti-democratic, unjust, and unacceptable," Orban wrote in his letter.
The EPP group, which includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, has been squabbling with Fidesz for years.
It remains unclear if Fidesz will also quit the EPP party family, led by former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, in addition to pulling its lawmakers from the EPP’s parliamentary group.
The right-wing party, which has held a two-thirds majority in Hungary's parliament almost uninterrupted since 2010, has been suspended from the EPP since 2018, but it still had 12 lawmakers in the parliamentary faction.
The EU has long accused Orban of undermining democratic freedoms, media, nongovernmental organizations, and the rule of law.