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Editorial

Hungarian elections: a near record high turnout delivers a third consecutive victory to Prime Minister Orbán

| April 13, 2018

With nearly 99 percent of votes counted and voter turnout approaching 70 percent, the outcome of last Sunday’s general elections is clear. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s ruling Fidesz-KDNP alliance secured a third consecutive term, an achievement unparalleled in Hungary’s democratic history. 

“Hungary is a country of brave people who today have made it clear – not only for ourselves, but for the whole of Europe – that things cannot continue like this,” said PM Orbán commenting on preliminary results in a television interview on Sunday night.

The voters “have stood up for Hungary’s sovereignty,” the prime minister said later at a press conference on Wednesday, and they did so in huge numbers.

Indeed, Hungarian voters have voiced a clear preference. Winning a record number of party list votes amidst a turnout of 69.5 percent – the highest turnout since 2002 – Fidesz-KDNP parties have secured a stable two-thirds majority for the third time in a row, winning 134 seats out of 199 in the Hungarian Parliament. The common presumption that a high turnout would favor the opposition parties proved false, and, as Fidesz Group Leader Gergely Gulyás said on election night, thanks to high turnout the next Orbán Government will have an especially strong mandate.

Though final, official results from the National Elections Office are not expected until Saturday (14th April), the latest tallies show that Jobbik won 25, MSZP-PM 20, LMP 8 and DK 9 seats in the National Assembly. While the voting bases of the opposition parties either stagnated or declined, Fidesz-KDNP widened its support by 5 percent, bagging more than 2.5 million domestic votes for its party list. That magnitude of increase in a party’s voter base has never happened in Hungary before.

Despite reports of a strong division between Budapest and the countryside, results show otherwise. The opposition parties did indeed win in a few more of the individual electoral contests in Budapest than in 2014. But the Fidesz-KDNP alliance won 38.3 percent of the vote in the capital, which is 20 percent more than their closest contender, MSZP-PM.

The formation of his next government would take up to three or four weeks, the prime minister said, and will be formed “mostly with new people, partially in new structures” as he intends to “open a new chapter.”

“Hungarians have laid out the most important topics – the issue of migration and national sovereignty, for example, and ruled that they are the only ones to decide who they want to live together with,” he said. The new government, he said, will also pay special attention to demography.

On Europe and the European Union, PM Orbán repeated that “we are not against Europe and the European Union. We want Europe. We want the European Union and we want a successful and strong European Union.”

“But first,” PM Orbán said, referring to what he has said is a chronic problem of stifling free and open debate on the issues that matter to voters, “we have to sincerely pronounce what pains us all.”

Towards the end of his remarks Prime Minister Orbán voiced his strong feelings for Europe. “This is our homeland, our greater homeland, and we love it. We would like the future to be just as beautiful as the past several successful decades,” he said.

Therefore, Hungary is ready to throw all its weight into the work confronting Europe. However, Viktor Orbán said, we don’t want to see Europe sacrificed along the way.

Clear, straightforward talk has always been Hungary’s strength. Now, with one of the strongest voters mandates in the EU, the Orbán Government stands ready to throw all its weight into the work to contribute to making a better Europe.