For a few days, it looked like the election might actually be close for Viktor Orbán. Pollsters had predicted a tight race and optimism flourished among Hungary’s opposition parties. In the end, though, Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán and his party Fidesz scored a surprisingly clear victory on Sunday, likely obtaining yet another two-thirds majority in parliament — for the third time in a row. Although ballots from abroad are still being counted, it is doubtful they will affect the ultimate outcome.
It’s an historic victory for Orbán, but also for Hungary and the rest of Central and Southeastern Europe. Never before in Hungarian history and never since the end of the communist dictatorships has a party in the region scored such a commanding victory in three elections in a row. In an extremely divisive campaign, Orbán essentially focused on one single issule, warning against Hungary’s “downfall” at the hands of “immigrants.” It appears that a majority of Hungarian voters view him as the only guarantee against such a scenario.
But Orbán didn’t use his victory on Sunday night as an occasion to boast of his triumph. During an appearance shortly before midnight together with party and government members, he showed relative reserve. “We won,” Orbán announced in front of cheering supporters, who could be heard shouting a chant usually associated with right-wing extremists or radical football fans: “Ria, ria, Hungaria.” But Orbán called for restraint: “Hungary has achieved a big victory. But even when you get a result like this, you still have to remain modest.” At the same time, Orbán said that Hungary “hasn’t yet gotten to where we’d like to be,” but the country is on the path that it has chosen for itself. [Continue reading…]
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