Sunday

25th Feb 2024

Hungary's Orbán secured fourth consecutive win

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Hungary's nationalist prime minister Viktor Orbán's ruling Fidesz party was on its way to secure a fourth supermajority in the parliament at the general election on Sunday (3 April) in a surprise massive win against a united opposition.

Six opposition parties — spanning from the once far-right Jobbik to liberal urban Momentum — which managed to unite for the first time suffered a worse than expected defeat on Sunday.

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With 74 percent of the votes counted, Orbán's Fidesz party was on its ways to secure 135 members in the 199 member parliament, with the united opposition expected to take 57 seats.

In another surprise, the far-right radical Our Country (Mi Hazánk) party has crossed the threshold and secured around a half a dozen spots in the 199 seat parliament.

This makes Orbán, a close ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, one of the longest serving prime ministers in the EU, extending his 12-year rule.

"We won in every way possible," Orbán said at night to a crowd chanting: "Viktor, Viktor!".

The opposition alliance had been polling neck and neck with Orban's Fidesz party in the polls, with a turnout of 67.8 percent of the over 8 million Hungarians eligible to vote, but in the end it performed worse than expected in the polls.

"There has been no breakthough, the oppostion has almost the same result as four years ago," political analyst Róbert László at Budapest-based think tank Political Capital told the Partizán online media.

The capital, Budapest, remained an opposition stronghold.

There had been reports of irregularities during the day. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had perviously dispatched a full-scale monitoring mission for the elections due to serious concerns over the elections fairness.

Concerns over gerrymandering, a state-financed pro-government propaganda machine, and Orbán's curbing of democratic checks and balances has caused concerns for years.

Opposition leader, conservative liberal Péter Márki-Zay, 49, has tried to frame the election as a choice between East and West, saying Orbán has eroded democratic checks and balances, turning Hungary towards Russia and away from the EU.

Orbán has accused that opposition of wanting to drag Hungary into the Ukraine war by supporting Ukraine with weapons under a Nato scheme, and alleged that Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky worked together with the opposition to meddle in Hungary's election.

Orbán, 58, casting his vote in snowy Budapest on Sunday with his wife, told reporters that he expected a "great victory" and described the election as a choice between "peace or war".

Orbán's framing of the opposition as warmongers seem to have resonated with voters. Older, rural, poorer voters had also long supported Orban's conservative social agenda.

Analysis

Orbán faces toughest election challenge amid Ukraine war

This time six opposition parties — spanning from once far-right Jobbik to urban liberal Momentum — have united to take on Orbán's Fidesz party, led by conservative newcomer politician and anti-corruption champion Péter Márki-Zay.

Small-town mayor elected to face Orbán

Péter Márki-Zay, 49, won the run-off of the first ever primary elections in Hungary, organised by six opposition parties in order to have one united opposition figure run against Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz candidates.

EU lobbies Hungary to break oil sanctions deadlock

After the EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen's Budapest trip, Hungary suggested it wants EU funds to offset the extra costs from receiving different oil sources, and the increased energy prices the planned Russian oil embargo entails.

Analysis

EU can expect Orbán 'on steroids'

After winning a landslide election, Orbán is expected to harden his pro-Putin position, entrench his conservative views and continue eroding democracy at home.

Opinion

2024 will be a momentous year for election observers

Our role is not to 'judge' the elections, but observation does provide an additional level of transparency, scrutiny and public accountability, writes Matteo Mecacci, director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

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