The New Zealand Herald

Hungary’s hardline PM wins new term

- James McAule

Viktor Orban, Hungary’s staunchly antimigran­t Prime Minister, was re-elected after his right-wing Fidesz Party was projected to win a supermajor­ity of seats in Hungary’s Parliament. The resounding victory will likely permit Orban’s Government to continue with democratic backslidin­g. Orban’s party was expected to win 133 of 199 seats in Parliament, according to the first results from Hungary’s national election website, with more than 90 per cent of votes tallied. That barely gives him the twothirds majority he needs to rewrite the constituti­on as he sees fit. The largest opposition group was projected to be the far-right Jobbik party, which shares much of Fidesz’s anti-immigrant platform and was expected to claim 26 seats. The vote — easily the most consequent­ial since Hungary’s postcommun­ist transition — was widely seen as a reflection on the state of democracy and the rule of law in a European Union member state that in recent years has been sliding toward autocracy.

The result — coming in an election with high turnout — squashed any hopes of an opposition presence in a country that has essentiall­y been a oneparty state for nearly a decade.

In the past eight years in power, Orban — in two consecutiv­e terms as Prime Minister — has enacted drastic changes to Hungary’s constituti­on, attempted to dismantle its system of checks and balances, and sought to silence his critics, notably in the Hungarian media.

Orban appeared in Budapest to declare victory. “There is a big battle behind us,” he said, speaking at the Fidesz campaign headquarte­rs. “We have won. Today Hungary had a decisive victory. We have the chance to defend Hungary.”

The election was a crushing defeat for left-leaning opposition leaders, who had rallied in recent weeks to try to curb Orban’s power in what polls had long predicted would be a win for a third consecutiv­e term in power. They had hoped for a larger presence in Parliament, which might then halt Orban’s aim of transformi­ng Hungary into what he has called an “illiberal democracy.”

Gabor Csorba, 48, a church finance officer, said that he did not approve of aspects of Orban’s personalit­y and rhetoric but that he would vote for him. “It’s better this kind of society will continue or else there will be instabilit­y ahead,” he said.

 ?? Pictures / AP ??
Pictures / AP
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand