Hungary’s incumbent Fidesz-led alliance, based on preliminary results with 95.1 percent of the votes counted, secured a sweeping victory in Sunday’s election, and was on course to win 133 seats in the 199-seat parliament, which would hand it a two-thirds majority. Meanwhile, the nationalist Jobbik party reaffirmed its standing as the country’s main opposition force.
“We’ve secured a historic victory, and created the possibility to protect Hungary,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told cheering supporters.
“We’ve won,” Orbán declared in his victory speech, adding that the high turnout had dispelled all doubts of this. “We have a big battle behind us,” he said.
Having pinned his hopes on turning the radical nationalist party into a moderate force, Gábor Vona announced his resignation as leader of the Jobbik party. This was followed by a string of resignations from opposition officials.
The Socialist Party’s national board has tendered its resignation in light of the result of Hungary’s general election, Gyula Molnár, the party’s leader, announced. Molnár said the party acknowledged the will of the voters and considered themselves responsible for the outcome of the election.
The small opposition Együtt party acknowledged the outcome of the election and said the party’s board will resign. Együtt leader Péter Juhász added that he was “disappointed” by the opposition’s performance. Együtt failed to secure 5 percent of the votes cast on national lists, thus failing to make it into parliament.
Meanwhile, the leader of Momentum Movement, András Fekete-Győr, said: “We cannot congratulate Fidesz; we cannot congratulate Viktor Orbán.”
He insisted that the prime minister and the ruling party had “committed political crimes” in Hungary over the past eight, and especially in the last four years. “He has brought fear into the hearts of people who are scared.” Momentum also failed to pass the 5 percent threshold for seats in parliament.
Overwhelming support for Fidesz, especially in the countryside, dashed opposition hopes that the unusually high turnout would increase their chances of knocking back the ruling alliance’s strong majority.
Jobbik secured 26 seats, the Socialist-Párbeszéd alliance 20 seats, the Democratic Coalition 9 seats, green party LMP 8 and Együtt 1 seat. An independent won a single seat and the representative of the German minority one seat.
In his speech, Orbán said Hungary was not yet where it wants to be, but “has embarked down its chosen path”. “We will go down this path together,” he pledged. Orban thanked voters for “standing by us over the years”. He also expressed his gratitude to Hungarians beyond the border who had voted in the election and “helped protect the motherland”.
Orbán further thanked Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, and Mateusz Morawiecki, his Polish counterpart, for their support.
The result was “a vindication of the government’s measures over the past eight years and sends a clear message to Brussels,” Csaba Fodor, an analyst of Nézőpont Institute, told public Kossuth Radio.
Political analyst Zoltán Kiszelly said the projection that a high turnout would work in favour of the opposition had proved wrong.
The projection that Budapest would decide the election outcome was also mistaken because it appeared that cities and villages beyond the capital decided the outcome. Whereas the opposition parties employed novel tactics, this turned out to be in vain, he said.
Nézőpont analyst Csaba Fodor said Jobbik had lost many of its radical nationalist voters, and it was possible the party would fall into serious “disintegration”. Comments by Gergely Karácsony, the prime ministerial candidate of the Socialist-Párbeszéd party, suggested that a search for scapegoats had started on the left, while Ferenc Gyurcsány, the leader of the Democratic Coalition, “took a jab at” his opponents by fulfilling his objective of having an independent group in parliament.
Head of the Századvég Foundation, Tamás Lánczi, told news channel M1 that the election outcome “will turn almost all opposition parties to ruin”. Opposition party leaders have been tendering their resignations in succession and “this is only the start of a crisis that is likely to deepen.”
Large internecine fights are starting within the opposition parties and they “will not be able to stay on their feet after such a serious defeat,” he said.
Lánczi added that voters had expressed their wish that it should be a Fidesz-led government that represents Hungary’s interests in the “great battles” that are likely to come.
Nézőpont Institute leader Ágoston Sámuel Mraz said the Socialists, already in trouble, had now ended up with a “huge crisis”. The speeches that followed the announcement of the election results showed that they had not been prepared for defeat, he added.
Hungary’s 2018 election, resulting in a third consecutive term for Fidesz, “is unique in central Europe…” Mraz said. He added that there would be a great many conflicts in the upcoming period in areas covering European Union funds, migration and NGOs financed from abroad.
Ferenc Gyurcsány, leader of the Democratic Coalition (DK), said after Fidesz’s resounding victory that the election had brought about a defeat for a “European, open Hungary”. He said he had been “more optimistic” early in the evening but now “the only open question is whether Fidesz will secure a two-thirds majority” after all votes have been counted.
An “unbridled” Fidesz with a two-thirds majority would continue to pursue a policy of “unbounded aggression and inhumanity”, he said, adding, however, that he was pleased DK had managed to secure an independent group in parliament for the first time and that it had doubled the number of its seats.
Gergely Karácsony, PM candidate of the Socialist-Párbeszéd alliance, said in reaction to the results that the Hungarian left “must be rebuilt from the ground up”. Karácsony said his alliance had hoped that the high turnout would help those who wanted change. But seeing the results, “it has become evident” that the government’s supporters had turned out in greater numbers than those who wanted change.
He said it was “difficult” to congratulate the Fidesz-Christian Democrat alliance, “not because we are petty but because we know how many lies and how excessive a media advantage” went into Fidesz’s victory, as well as “how many changes to the electoral law”. He did congratulate Fidesz, however, saying that “perhaps by doing so this will get us closer to being able to live in a normal country”.
Featured image: MTI