BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (AP) – Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban declared victory in Sunday’s national elections, claiming a mandate for a fourth term as a still incomplete vote count showed a strong lead for his right-wing party.
In a 10-minute speech to Fidesz party officials and supporters at an election night event in Budapest, Orban addressed a crowd cheering “Viktor!” and declared it was a “huge victory” for his party.
“We won a victory so big that you can see it from the moon, and you can certainly see it from Brussels,” said Orban, who has often been condemned by the European Union (EU) for overseeing democratic backsliding and alleged corruption.
While votes were still being tallied, it appeared clear that the question was not whether Orban’s Fidesz party would take the election, but by how much.
With around 91 per cent of votes tallied, Orban’s Fidesz-led coalition had won 53 per cent, while a pro-European opposition coalition, United for Hungary, had just over 34 per cent, according to the National Election Office.
As Fidesz party officials gathered at an election night event on the Danube river in Budapest, state secretary Zoltan Kovacs pointed to the participation of so many parties in the election as a testament to the strength of Hungary’s democracy.
The contest had been expected to be the closest since Orban took power in 2010, thanks to Hungary’s six main opposition parties putting aside their ideological differences to form a united front against Fidesz. Voters were electing lawmakers to the country’s 199-seat Parliament.
Yet even in his home district, opposition leader Peter Marki-Zay trailed the longtime Fidesz incumbent Janos Lazar by more than 12 points, with more than 98 per cent of the votes counted there. It was a discouraging sign for the prime ministerial candidate who had promised to end to what he alleges is rampant government corruption, raise living standards by increasing funding to Hungary’s ailing healthcare and schools and mend frayed relations with the country’s Western partners.