By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News reporting from Budapest, Hungary
With most votes counted, his right-wing Fidesz party seemed to have secured a two-thirds majority in the 199 seat Parliament.
It came as a significant setback for the six-party “United for Hungary” opposition which tried to oust a leader criticized by the EU over authoritarian policies during the last 12 years.
Hungary’s election committee said parliamentary seat allocations were estimated at Fidesz-KDNP, 134 seats; United for Hungary, 58 seats; and Our Home, seven seats.
Though counting was still ongoing, the 58-year-old Orbán rushed to a rally to thank supporters for what appeared to be a convincing victory. And he prepared for battle with the EU, which has threatened to withhold billions of euros in aid over the rule of law concerns.
“We have reaped a massive election victory. It’s such a big win that it can probably be seen from the moon. But certainly from Brussels,” he blasted through the microphone sparking laud applause and slogans like “Go Hungary.”
Speaking in Budapest late Sunday, he said Fidesz had faced unprecedented domestic and international pressure. “This election will be remembered until the end of our life as we had to fight an unprecedented opposition force. The opposition included the domestic and international left, bureaucrats in [the EU capital] Brussels, institutes financed by [U.S. philanthropist George] Soros, the international media, and even the president of Ukraine,” Orbán stressed.
Orbán had come under pressure over his reluctance to support sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. He also refused to allow the delivery of Western weapons through Hungarian territory to neighboring Ukraine, citing security concerns for Hungary.
Orbán’s victory meant a significant setback for his main rival Péter Márki-Zay, the prime ministerial candidate of the United for Hungary’s opposition block. “We do not dispute that Fidesz won the elections. What we do dispute is this: Had the elections been democratic and free, Fidesz would not have won a two-thirds majority in Parliament,” he told a crowd near many EU flags. Some 200 monitors of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe were deployed amid concerns over potential fraud and Fidesz perceived unfair advantage.
Márki-Zay, a 49-year-old conservative Catholic mayor, had told Worthy News that he saw Orbán as “a puppet of Putin” who had isolated Hungary in Europe. He expressed concerns about multi-billion dollar energy deals with Russia, including extending Hungary’s only nuclear power plant.
Additionally, he has expressed worries about a Russian-controlled investment bank, known by critics as the Putin Bank, operating in Hungary. Investigative journalists discovered it had provided cheap loans to Orbán allies.
Márki-Zay told Worthy News he wanted to make Hungary a member of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, which could investigate these and other shaky deals.
EUROPE OR PUTIN?
The married father-of-seven said he saw “the election as a choice between Europe or Putin.”
Other conservatives also expressed concerns about corruption and a government crackdown on independent media in Hungary, including removing one of the last critical radio stations from the air.
However, the fiercely anti-migration Orbán has received praise for allowing hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing the war to enter Hungary. Additionally, his government supports persecuted Christians through a special secretary and the Hungary Helps program.
And with a war ongoing in Hungary’s backyard, most voters appeared ready to give another four years to a known leader for a generation.
Those participating in Sunday’s parliamentary elections were also asked to participate in a controversial referendum on child protection legislation that the EU considers anti-LGBTQ. The law outlaws sharing information in schools and media with under-18s that the government considers promoting homosexuality or gender change.
After criticism from Brussels, Orbán asked for the referendum in which voters were asked: “Do you support holding educational events on sexual orientation for minors in public education institutions without parental consent? Do you support the promotion of gender-reassignment treatments for minors? Do you support the unrestricted exposure of minors to sexually explicit media content, that may influence their development? Do you support showing minors media content on gender-changing procedures?”
Election officials said counting suggested that more than 90 percent of voters answered all questions with “no.”
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