By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent reporting from Budapest
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– The main Hungarian center-right party – the Fidesz Hungarian Civic Alliance – has declared victory in the country’s parliamentary elections. Fidesz defeated the ruling Socialists by winning a super majority of seats.
Thousands of Hungarians, many of them waving flags, sang their national anthem in downtown Budapest where 46-year Viktor Orban, the likely new prime minster, declared victory. He told the crowd that his center right Fidesz made history as the first Hungarian political party to capture a two-thirds majority in the 386-seat parliament since Hungary’s first post-communist elections in 1990. But he added that his government will face difficult tasks because Hungary is still in the midst of a deep economic recession.
Yet, Orban vowed that Fidesz will rebuild the economy and make Hungary strong again. Fidesz defeated the ruling Socialists who have been in power for eight years, amid public anger over scandals and the economy. In 2006, then-Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany admitted in a leaked recording that his party had lied about the state of the Hungarian economy to win re-election. Two years later, Hungary needed a $25 billion international rescue package to avoid bankruptcy, during the global economic downturn.
Sunday’s election results give the ruling Socialists 59 seats and the far-right Jobbik Party, 47 seats. But Fidesz has little time to celebrate its victory, according to sociologist Andras Toth of the Institute for Political Science at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Hungary joined the European Union in 2004, and Toth says the country’s next government will face an uphill battle to turn around the Hungarian economy. “Within the European single market, we are fighting for jobs and investments, which is very important for the Hungarian recovery. Because we are a highly indebted country, the population is highly indebted. We need jobs, we need new incomes,” he said.
Despite Sunday’s election results, many Hungarians remain unconvinced that Fidesz or the other main parties know how to address these challenges.