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The ruling, center-right Fidesz party under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán handily won the regularly scheduled elections to the National Assembly, taking 44.87 percent of the national list vote (and 37 seats) and winning 96 of 106 single-member district races outright. With this result Fidesz won a second, consecutive two-thirds majority in the Assembly. Turnout was 61.24 percent, somewhat lower than it was four years ago. The socialist-liberal alliance led by the Hungarian Socialist Party came in second with 25.57 percent of the national list vote. Jobbik, the radical, far-right party took 20.22 percent and the green-liberal Politics Can Be Different party just passed the five-percent threshold with 5.34 percent.
These elections were the first conducted under a new and controversial election system. The subject of broad international criticism (which Fidesz argues has been politically driven by the Left), the new system cut the number of seats in parliament from 386 to 199, with 106 of these elected in single-mandate districts and the rest by proportional representation. One ongoing criticism of the new districts is that they were gerrymandered to the benefit of the ruling party, but by comparison to any number of U.S. congressional districts, they are clean, compact, balanced and proportional.
Of these 106 single-mandate districts, Fidesz won 96 and the socialist-liberal coalition 10 – actually a worse performance for Fidesz than in 2010 under the old systems, when it won 173 of 176 districts. Another criticism of the elections was that, although private media is competitive and has voices from left and right, a “significant part” of Hungary is served only by state media, and thus allegedly only received the “government line.”
IRI conducted a staff assessment in and around Budapest for the elections, with resident country directors from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Turkey observing 24 polling stations. Overall, IRI staff assessors found the environment on Election Day to be quiet, well-run and efficient. Because IRI had no long-term observation mission, the Institute is not able assess the pre-election environment.
In his victory speech, Prime Minister Orbán said that the voters had said no to two things: hatred and leaving the European Union. The voters, he said, reaffirmed that Hungary’s place is in Europe, but only when it has a strong national government. “We stand, all of us, on the threshold of a new and wonderful age,” he said. “I call on the citizens of Hungary: Let us step into this new and wonderful age together. Only together were we able to get this far. And only together will we be able to make Hungary great and successful again.”