Hungary lurches to the right
12.04.10 @ 09:23
Hungary has taken a lurch to the right, with the right-wing Fidesz party on track to win a supermajority and the radical nationalist Jobbik entering parliament for the first time.
According to the National Election Committee, Fidesz has won a whopping 52.8 percent of the vote, giving the party 206 out of 386 seats in the first round of parliamentary elections.
The governing Socialists after eight years of rule characterised by sleaze, corruption and, following the economic crisis which badly hit the eastern European country, strongly unpopular austerity measures, were reduced to a rump of 28 MPs on a vote of just 19.29 percent.
The centre-left party just managed to come in second ahead of the far-right Jobbik, on 16.71 percent with 26 seats, up slightly from its 15 percent support in last year's June European Parliament elections.
The green progressive grouping "Politics Can Be Different," or LMP, from its Hungarian initials, also entered parliament for the first time with five seats on a 7.4 percent vote. The left-liberal party is affiliated to the European Green Party but has its roots in human rights and civil liberties grassroots organisations in the country.
A second round of voting in Hungary's mixed political system on 25 April is likely to give Fidesz a two-thirds majority in the chamber, as the party is expected to win a clean sweep of all the non-party-list seats.
With such a supermajority, the party will be able to push through constitutional changes without requiring opposition support.
Abstention rose slightly on the last elections in 2006, with turnout at 64 percent.
"Hungarians voted on Hungary and Hungary's future. Today Hungary's citizens have defeated hopelessness," Fidesz leader Victor Orban, who governed the country already between 1998 and 2002, told supporters, according to local press reports.
"On this splendid day Hungarians have expressed that Hungary is united, Hungary has power, is able to do great things. It wants jobs, order and safety - Hungarians have shown to the world that it's good to be Hungarian again."
In opposition, the party was sharply critical of the outgoing government's austerity measures, introduced after the country was the first EU member state to go to the International Monetary Fund for help in the economic crisis in 2008.
But during the campaign, the party's campaign focussed on tax cuts and creating jobs, and Fidesz is widely expected to continue with the IMF prescription although it has said it wants to renegotiate the credit line it holds with the international lender.
As unemployment soars - currently at 11 percent - the popularity of the openly antisemitic and anti-gypsy Jobbik, or Movement For a Better Hungary has proceeded apace.
The group's 31-year-old leader, Gabor Vona, was also the founder of the black-uniformed paramilitary Magyar Garda, or Hungarian Guard, linked to Jobbik and known for its attacks on Roma communities.
Mr Vona has said he intends to be sworn in as an MP wearing the Magyar Garda uniform.