Hungary PM Orban savours election victory while far right makes further gains

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban smiles as he addresses supporters after partial results of parliamentary elections are announced in Budapest on April 6, 2014. Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban savoured on Monday a decisive election vic
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban smiles as he addresses supporters after partial results of parliamentary elections are announced in Budapest on April 6, 2014. Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban savoured on Monday a decisive election victory that gives a European Union leader accused of undermining democracy four more years in power, while the far-right made further gains. -- PHOTO; REUTERS

BUDAPEST (AFP) - Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban savoured on Monday a decisive election victory that gives a European Union leader accused of undermining democracy four more years in power, while the far-right made further gains.

"We can say with absolute certainty that we won," the right-wing and rabble-rousing Mr Orban, 50, told jubilant, flag-waving supporters in Budapest on Sunday night. "These elections were free. Organised in a free country."

Final results and the distribution of seats in Parliament were still not in, but with some 99 per cent of votes counted, Mr Orban's Fidesz party was on 44.5 per cent and the far-right Jobbik on 20.5 per cent.

The rickety opposition alliance of the centre-left led by Mr Attila Mesterhazy was in distant second place with 26 per cent, almost 20 percentage points behind Mr Orban's party, the results showed.

If confirmed, this would mean that Fidesz narrowly retained its commanding two-thirds majority in Parliament, giving Mr Orban a legislative carte blanche for another four years.

A crestfallen and angry Mr Mesterhazy, 39, said late on Sunday that he accepted the result but that he refused to congratulate his adversary.

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

"The country has indeed arrived at the gates of a great future," the pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet trumpeted on Monday.

"The political community led by Viktor Orban - whether you like it or not - is now able to defend, fine trim, perfect, complete, nail down, and mend the new economic and social structure put together in the last four years with enormous effort."

Central European University political scientist Zoltan Miklosi said that Fidesz in fact lost 600,000 voters compared to 2010 but that it swept the board thanks to a weak left-wing and because Mr Orban has changed the electoral system.

"They would have won a simple majority under a fairer system but not two-thirds," he told AFP, calling the result a "total disaster" for the left.

Mr Orban put the super-majority of his first term to devastating use with a legislative blitz that opponents say have tightened his control on democratic institutions in the EU 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.

Bur Mr Orban, a patriot fond of nationalist rhetoric, says he has cleaned up the chaos left by eight years of left-wing government before 2010.

Ordering utility firms to slash prices by more than 20 per cent before the election, Mr Orban also claimed credit for Hungary's economic recovery, with growth accelerating and inflation tame.

But experts say that his bashing of multinational corporations, banks and "imperial Brussels bureaucrats" has frightened away foreign investors, and that below the rosy headline data it is a different story.

The other winner of the night was Jobbik, with party leader Gabor Vona saying that ahead of European elections next month it was the "most successful radical nationalist party in the European Union".

"We achieved important goals, with a score over 20 per cent, which few people thought possible," the 35-year-old, who has sought to give the party a more respectable image along the lines of other far-right movements in Europe, said.

"This confirms that honest politics bears fruit," he added.

The party, which denies being racist and says it is pro-law and order and anti-corruption, was already the third-largest party in 10 million-strong Hungary's outgoing Parliament. At the last election it scored 16.7 per cent.

One of its MPs called in 2012 for a list of all Jewish lawmakers for "national security" reasons and it wants detention centres for Roma "deviants".

European Jewish Congress president Moshe Kantor said the "neo-Nazi" Jobbik's performance "should be a source of grave concern for Europe".

"Once again in Europe we are witnessing democracy being appropriated by those who are the enemies of democracy," he said, calling it a "dark day" for Hungary.

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