Hungary’s Orban retains two-thirds legislative majority
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Hungary’s Orban retains two-thirds legislative majority

Final ballot count gives ruling right-wing Fidesz party 133 seats in the 199-seat parliament, after elections that observers said were marked by ‘intimidating, xenophobic rhetoric’

Supporters of the FIDESZ party react, as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses the crowd from the podium of the banks of the Danube River, after winning the parliamentary election on April 8, 2018, in Budapest. (AFP PHOTO/ATTILA KISBENEDEK)
Supporters of the FIDESZ party react, as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses the crowd from the podium of the banks of the Danube River, after winning the parliamentary election on April 8, 2018, in Budapest. (AFP PHOTO/ATTILA KISBENEDEK)

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban retained his controlling two-thirds majority in parliament following last week’s election, a final ballot count revealed Sunday, giving him free legislative rein for the next four years.

Orban’s ruling right-wing Fidesz party was already the clear winner of the election hours after polls closed last Sunday.

But its two-thirds majority remained in doubt until ballots from abroad — which could have changed the outcome in several voting districts — were counted.

In the end, these ballots made little difference, with Fidesz winning 49.6 percent of votes, far ahead of the nationalist Jobbik party, in second with 19.2 %, and the Socialist-led center-left alliance with 12 %, according to the state news wire MTI.

This means Fidesz (along with its junior coalition partner the Christian Democrats) will have 133 seats in the 199-seat parliament.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban greets his supporters in Budapest, Hungary, April 8, 2018. (AP Photo/ Darko Vojinovic)

That gives it a two-thirds majority that allows it to steamroll legislation through parliament without the need for approval from any other party.

Jobbik and the Socialist-led alliance will take up 26 and 20 seats respectively.

Another leftist party, Democratic Coalition (DK), led by former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, will take up nine seats, while the green party, LMP, will have eight.

On Tuesday, Orban told foreign reporters that the resounding win showed that voters want to stop the Hungarian born, Jewish, US billionaire philanthropist George Soros from interfering in the country.

A package of so-called “Stop Soros” bills tightening already strict legislation regulating non-governmental organisations (NGOs) funded by the Hungarian-born 87-year-old will be among the first to pass through the new parliament after it convenes later this month.

People stand on a street by a billboard from Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party, which reads, “Let’s stop Soros’ candidates!” showing American financier George Soros, center, and, from left, Bernadett Szel of the Politics Can Be Different party, Ferenc Gyurcsany from the Democratic Coalition, Gergely Karacsony of the Dialogue party and Gabor Vona of the Jobbik party, in Budapest, Hungary, April 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Orban’s opponents meanwhile have complained that election rules approved by parliament in 2012 have rigged the system in Fidesz’s favour.

Election observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said Monday that the ballot was marked by “intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric, media bias and opaque campaign financing.”

The OSCE also said it had noticed “a pervasive overlap of state and ruling party resources.”

A series of alleged irregularities at polling stations around the country also prompted several opposition parties to demand that the National Elections Office launche a probe for possible fraud, and a possible recount.

An anti-government demonstration drew an estimated 100,000 people in Budapest Saturday. Speakers demanded free and fair elections and called another protest for next Saturday.

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