Hungarian strongman Viktor Orban sweeps to another polls victory

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 April, 2014, 9:49pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 April, 2014, 1:09am


Hungary was set for four more years of Prime Minister Viktor Orban after the divisive strongman swept to victory in elections that also saw the far-right increase its share of the vote.

"We can say with absolute certainty that we won," the right-wing Orban, 50, told cheering supporters in Budapest on Sunday. "These elections were free. Organised in a free country."

Orban's Fidesz party won 44.6 per cent of the vote, relegating the centre-left opposition alliance to a distant second place with 25.8 per cent, results based on 94 per cent of votes counted showed.

The anti-gypsy and anti-Jewish Jobbik party of the far-right looked to have increased its share to 20.8 per cent from 16.7 per cent at the election in 2010.

Attila Mesterhazy, the left-wing alliance's main candidate, said he accepted the result but would not congratulate Orban.

"Orban has continuously abused his power," Mesterhazy said. "Hungary is not free, it is not a democracy."

It remained unclear, however, whether Orban's victory would be enough for the right-winger to retain his two-thirds majority in parliament. This was set to become clear yesterday.

Armed with a super-majority, Orban devoted the past four years to a legislative blitz that opponents say has tightened his control on democratic institutions in the European Union member state.

Of particular concern both at home and abroad was a shake-up of the media that critics say has driven any unfavourable reporting of the government to the internet.

Orban, a self-described patriot fond of nationalist rhetoric, said he had sought to clean up the chaos left by eight years of left-wing government before 2010.

He has claimed credit for Hungary returning to growth and unemployment falling, and before the election ordered cuts of more than 20 per cent to electricity and gas prices.

But experts say that his attacks on multinational corporations, banks and "imperial Brussels bureaucrats" has frightened away foreign investors.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 30.6 per cent of Hungarians report they are unable to buy food.

In this election, the centre-left never even looked like it might win, only uniting in January, riven by divisions and hurt by a corruption scandal heavily reported by the media.

Further hobbling its chances were election rules that rigged the system massively in Fidesz's favour, the opposition said.