Tue, Apr 08, 2014 - Page 7 News List

Hungary PM set for four more years after victory

FREE ELECTIONS?While Viktor Orban touted the elections as a symbol of a free nation, the opposition continued to charge him with abuse of power

AFP, BUDAPEST

Hungary was set yesterday 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. “These elections were free. Organized in a free country.”

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

The anti-Roma and anti-Semitic Jobbik party of the far-right looked to have increased its share to 20.8 percent from 16.7 percent at the last election in 2010.

NO CONGRATULATIONS

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,” he said. “Hungary is not free; it is not a democracy”.

However, it remained unclear, whether Orban’s victory will be big enough for the right-winger to retain his two-thirds majority in parliament. This was set to become clear later yesterday.

Armed with a super-majority, Orban devoted the last four years to a legislative blitz that opponents say has 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 unfavorable reporting of the government to the Internet.

Orban, a proud patriot fond of nationalist rhetoric, says his quest has been 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 utility firms to cut electricity and gas prices by more than 20 percent.

However, experts say that his bashing of multinational corporations, banks and “imperial Brussels bureaucrats” has frightened away foreign investors.

NO FOOD

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 30.6 percent of Hungarians report they are unable to buy food.

Meanwhile, the drop in unemployment is thanks in part to another controversial policy, “workfare,” making people work for welfare benefits, often in menial tasks like sweeping the streets.

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