By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– Thousands of Hungarians celebrated in downtown Budapest till early Monday, March 12, as official election results showed that the center right Fidesz party had won Hungary’s parliamentary elections with at least 206 of the 386 seats in parliament — ousting the ruling Socialists — amid widespread anger over economic difficulties and corruption scandals.
Results also showed the far right Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik) entered parliament in what analysts immediately described as the most dramatic political change since the first democratic elections following the collapse of Communism, two decades ago.
A second round of voting is to be held on April 25, but Fidesz has already garnered enough support to form a government. It marks a comeback for the 46-year old Viktor Orbán, who is expected to return to the job of prime minister, a post he held from 1998 till 2002. In the meantime he had lost two elections.
He told supporters that Fidesz’ victory indicates Hungarians want to give him another chance at a time when the country is facing its deepest recession in decades. “In 2010, the voters have drawn a line under an era which has failed and have chosen unity, order and safety instead,” he told an enthusiastic crowd that included people waving Hungarian flags. Orbán cautioned however that he faces “the biggest task” of his life.
Fidesz defeated the ruling Socialists, following public anger over the economic crisis and high-level scandals. In 2006, a recording was leaked in which then Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány admitted to having lied about the real state of the economy, to be re-elected.
Orbán has described the Socialists as “unpatriotic, corrupt and dishonest Communists” who nearly destroyed the country. Socialist Party chair woman Ildikó Lendvai clearly disagrees, telling her supporters that she’s looking forward to her party’s role in the opposition.
“The Hungarian Socialist party has lost the opportunity to govern. But it has not lost the opportunity to be the strongest opposition party,” she told them and reporters at campaign headquarters. “The Socialist Party will be responsible for democratic control on behalf of the parliament.”
Fidesz is under pressure to act quickly to satisfy its huge but impatient following, including struggling families and entrepreneurs. Its prime ministerial candidate Viktor Orbán has given no details on how he intends to deliver on a promise to create one million jobs within 10 years and cut taxes.
For now Fidesz supporter Pál Szemes remains hopeful. “I hope Fidesz will create a better government, and a better economy,” he told BosNewsLife
Looking over Fidesz shoulders is the far right opposition Jobbik, which has become the third largest party, after the Socialists, as people are reportedly searching for scapegoats for their economic difficulties.
Jobbik leaders, known for perceived anti-Semitic statements and verbal abuse of the country’s 800.000 gypsies, or Roma, are backed by paramilitary extremists wearing uniforms and flags resembling Hungary’s pro-Nazi regime during World War Two.
At least 600,000 Hungarian Jews and thousands of Roma were killed in the Holocaust. Rights activists have accused Jobbik of contributing to a climate of hatred in a nation where several Roma have been killed and Jewish people attacked by extremists in recent years.
Jobbik leader Gábor Vona has denied any wrongdoing and says his party has many followers.
“Despite the strong headwinds, Jobbik has managed to double its voters over the past year,” following the European parliamentary elections, he told the party faithful in Budapest late Sunday, April 11. “I still feel, however, that two-thirds of Hungarians are Jobbik supporters but don’t know it yet,” he added.
Yet, there is apparently an alternative for Hungarians tired of the main parties: A new green grouping narrowly made it to parliament. It’ s called: Politics Can Be Different…We’ll see. (BosNewsLife’s NEWS WATCH is a regular look at key news developments especially in former Communist nations impacting the Church and/or compassionate professionals. BosNewsLife is based in Hungary, which joined the European Union in 2004).