26/04/2010 - Results - 2nd round
The Young Democrats Alliance (FIDESZ) won its wager and achieved a 2/3 majority in Parliament after the second round of the general elections that took place on 25th April in Hungary – an unprecedented event in Central and Eastern Europe. FIDESZ won 263 seats, i.e. +5 than the 2/3 majority. The Socialist Party (MSZP) in office for the last eight years led by Attila Mesterhazy is the major loser taking just 59 seats.
The election was marked by a breakthrough on the far right party, the Movement for a better Hungary (Jobbik) led by Gabor Vona which won 47 seats in the Orszaggyules (Parliament). Finally Doing Politics Differently (LMP), a leftwing ecologist party, won 16 seats.
In the 2nd round turnout was clearly lower than the rate recorded in the first round on 11th April last. Less than half of the 2.5 million voters registered to vote turned out to ballot (44.17% i.e. -20.12 points). Many people thought that matters were settled since FIDESZ won the majority in the absolute first round.
Viktor Orban, the FIDESZ leader is the grand winner in this election eight years after having been forced from office by the socialists and he will now return to his post as Prime Minister. The achievement of the 2/3 majority was the only real stake in the second round. "Only a miracle could have prevented FIDESZ from achieving a 2/3 majority,
" declared political analyst Peter Kreko on the eve of the election. This majority will enable Viktor Orban's party to undertake constitutional reforms that are part of its programme.
Hence the party intends to halve the number of national MPs, reduce the number of local representatives and modify the laws governing the press, a measure that is now already a cause for concern on the part of the other parties who see in this a threat to the freedom of expression. FIDESZ has promised to grant dual nationality (and therefore the right to vote) to more than 3 million Hungarians living in the neighbouring states, a measure which might prove difficult to apply in some countries – as in Ukraine for example – which prohibits dual nationality. 1.4 million Hungarians live in Romania (representing 6.6% of the total population), 520,000 in Slovakia (9.7%), 293,000 in Serbia (3.9%), 156,000 in Ukraine (0.3%), 26,000 in Austria (0.3%), 16,000 in Croatia (0.3%) and 6,000 in Slovenia (0.3%).
Janos Martonyi, former Foreign Minister (1998-2002) in the first government led by Viktor Orban, who is due to recover his post after these general elections says that granting nationality to Hungarians living in neighbouring countries aims to "do away with discrimination
", a result of the Trianon Treaty which on 4th June 1920 cut Budapest off from more than 2/3 of its territory and from 3.3 million of its citizens. He wanted to reassure the EU, which is concerned about the rise in nationalism in Hungary: "we are not talking of territories only of human beings.
Hungary will hold the Presidency of the EU in the first half of 2011. "The promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity in Europe will be one of the main focuses of the Hungarian Presidency,
" declared Janos Martonyi in the French daily Le Monde.
47 year-old Viktor Orban is a law graduate. On 30th March 1988 he was one of the founder members of FIDESZ. In 1990 he was elected MP in Parliament. In 1998 Viktor Orban became the youngest Prime Minister in Europe aged 35 years old.
Investors are expecting FIDESZ to put Hungary back on track for economic growth by following a policy of budgetary consolidation started by the outgoing socialist government led by Gordon Bajnai. 20 years after the collapse of communism Hungary is paying the price for not having finalized its reforms. The foundation of its economy is vulnerable and the country was one of the most seriously affected EU member states during the international economic crisis. The Hungarian economy contracted by 6.7% in 2009; the GDP growth rate is due to reach 0.6% in 2010 before rising to 3.7% in 2011. Inflation is high (4.1% forecast in 2010) and unemployment, over 10% of the working population, is due to remain at this level until 2012. The budgetary deficit, which lay at 7% of the GDP in 2009, was reduced to 3.8% by the socialist government. Finally the Hungarian public debt rose to 65% of the GDP, the highest figure in Central and Eastern Europe and this might even reach nearly 80% in 2010.
The next government's room to manœuvre is therefore quite small. The promises to reduce taxes and the creation of a million jobs for the economy's recovery made by Viktor Orban during the electoral campaign may be extremely difficult to keep. And this is all the more true since the country will be closely watched by the IMF and the EU.
"The victory of the Alliance of Young Democrats is an opportunity but also a great risk. If the reforms fail they will bear the entire responsibility and will not be able to blame anyone else,
" says Peter Kreko of the research institute, Political Capital.
"The Hungarians have put an end to a regime and have created a new one. They have founded the regime of national cooperation which replaces that of the oligarchs,
" declared Viktor Orban. "It will be the most difficult task ever given to me.