Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán withdrew support from Manfred Weber on Monday after the candidate said he did not want to be elected by the far-right in an interview with German television.
Weber, the leading centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) candidate up for the role of EU Commission President, told German broadcaster ZDF in March that he would not take up office if he required the votes of Orbán’s far-right party, Fidesz, to win the election.
“I want to make clear that the centre is the dominant force, not the fringes,” Weber said.
Orbán countered Monday that Hungarians were insulted by the comments.
“We would have liked Mr. Weber as Commission President. But he has announced not only that he would not need the votes of the Hungarians, but that he would not want to become president with those votes,” Orbán said at a press conference in Budapest on Monday.
Orbán had previously supported Weber as a top candidate.
Orbán made his comments at a press conference held with Austrian far-right politician Heinz-Christian Strache whom he was hosting in Budapest.
“Viktor Orbán has been spending a lot of time with far-right parties,” Euronews correspondent Méabh McMahon reported on Good Morning Europe.
Orbán hosted Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini from the populist Lega (League) party on Thursday.
This is not the first time that the Hungarian president has had a spat with the EPP. He has long had disagreements with current EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.
“Orbán and I have nothing in common. Why should he stay in my party if there is no common ground?” EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said of the Hungarian PM in February.
The EPP suspended Fidesz in March following concerns about the rule of law in Hungary.