Hungarian opposition party to join European Parliament's centre-right bloc

EU citizens vote to select new members of the European Parliament in Hungary

BUDAPEST (Reuters) -Hungarian opposition party Tisza will join the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) bloc in the European Parliament, the party's leader Peter Magyar said on Tuesday.

The political newcomer has emerged as a new threat to Prime Minister Viktor Orban's iron grip on power with his promises to tackle state corruption and restore democratic checks and balances he says have been eroded during Orban's 14-year rule.

"We are happy that the EPP group just voted by 97% of the votes for our admission," Magyar told a news conference in Brussels.

His centre-right party won seven of Hungary's 21 seats in the European Parliament in Sunday's pan-European Union election, more than the rest of Orban's other challengers combined. Orban's Fidesz and its small Christian Democrat allies won 11 seats, down from 13 before the election.

Magyar said in a Facebook video late on Tuesday that he would take up his seat as a member of the European Parliament (MEP), despite indicating earlier that he would rather stay in Hungary and focus on laying the groundwork to defeat Orban in the next national election due in 2026.

Magyar said he wanted to build his party's international ties in Brussels but if his job as an MEP harmed his efforts to prepare for the 2026 election he would resign his seat.

The EPP remains the European Parliament's largest grouping. Fidesz had also been in the EPP but they parted ways in 2021 over Orban's democratic track record and it has since remained outside of any other larger groupings.

(Reporting by Boldizsar Gyori and Anita Komuves; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Mark Potter)