September 18, 2018
Strache joins Orban in challenging the legality of the vote
While MEPs from Sebastian Kurz' ÖVP voted unanimously in favour of triggering Art. 7 last Wednesday, Heinz-Christian Strache's FPÖ voted unanimously against. It is not unusual that national coalition parties vote differently in the European Parliament. But the differences continue to show up at home.
Heinz-Christian Strache has now asked the foreign ministry to make a formal request that the EU council's legal services investigate whether last Wednesday’s vote was legal or not, according to Der Standard. The vote required a two-third majority, which was achieved according to the European Parliament with 448 MEPs voting in favour and 197 against, which is 69.5% compared with 30.5%. But Orbán now argues that the 48 MEPs who abstained needed to be accounted for. This would push the percentage down to 65% in favour, slightly below the required two-thirds majority.
We think that, while there is a certain ambiguity in the texts, the parliament's legal services and the political landscape suggest that the complaint has near zero chance to succeed.
It is best to think of this as a political gesture by Strache towards Orbán. After all, if Fidesz were ever to be excluded from the EPP, the Europe of Nations and Freedom group would be the natural candidate for Fidesz to join.