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Elections

Hungary's Fidesz on course for landslide triumph

Hungary's ruling Fidesz party has secured a parliamentary majority, according to early results. A socialist-led coalition appears to have come a distant second, with the far-right Jobbik party not too far behind.

With 90.2 percent of votes counted, election authorities told the DPA news agency that Orban's right-wing Fidesz party had garnered 44.5 percent of the vote.

Far behind in second place, the center-left coalition led by the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) had 25.5 percent, while the Jobbik party appeared to have come third with 20.8 percent.

An election office prediction with 71 percent of the vote counted said Fidesz would have 132 seats in the parliament of 199. That figure would be just one seat less than the two-third majority required in parliament to make constitutional changes unchallenged.

The same projection said the center-left would have 38 seats, while Jobbik would take 24.

Late in the evening, Orban declared victory, claiming the result was confirmation of public support for policies to create jobs, strengthen family life and assert national sovereignty.

The race for second place looked far closer than had been expected weeks ahead of the poll, with the far-right Jobbik party - best known outside the country for its anti-Roma agenda - hot on the heels of the country's main center-left coalition to become the chief opposition.

"This was not just any odd victory. We have scored such a comprehensive victory, the significance of which we cannot yet fully grasp tonight," Orban told supporters outside his Fidesz party's election headquarters.

Orban has been criticized, both domestically and externally, for a raft of changes made to the country's institutions and constitution. Among them was a reduction of the parliament to its currents size from a much larger chamber of 386.

'Crushing' blow to center-left

Former MSZP Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai, now a member of the center-left coalition with the Together 2014 party, called the result a "crushing defeat."

"This is a great disappointment to those who wanted a change in government," said Bajnai.

With the country experiencing a political drift to the right in recent years, Jobbik also enjoyed a surge in support in the run-up to polling day.

The party has undergone something of a makeover of late, promoting a softer image and courting the youth vote through social media. For Jobbik, the result is a huge success, with leader Gabor Vona saying late on Sunday it was now Europe's strongest national radical party.

The European Union have been critical of Orban's government on repeated occasions, with new laws introduced that were seen as detrimental to the freedom of the media and the independence of the judiciary.

Reforms have also given some 200,000 ethnic Hungarians from neighboring states the right to cast a vote in the election.

rc/crh (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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