Orban has clashed repeatedly with the European Union and foreign
investors over his unorthodox policies, and after Sunday's win, big
businesses were bracing for another term of unpredictable and, for
some of them, hostile measures.
But many Hungarians see Orban, a 50-year-old former dissident
against Communist rule, as a champion of national interests. They
also like the fact that under his government personal income tax and
household power bills have fallen.
After 99 percent of ballots were counted from Sunday's parliamentary
vote, an official projection gave Orban's Fidesz party 133 of 199
seats, guaranteeing it will form the next government.
That tally also gave Orban's party the two-thirds majority needed
for it to change the constitution, but only by one seat. Final
results could still push Fidesz back below the threshold.
The same projection gave the Socialist-led leftist alliance 38
seats, while far-right Jobbik was on 23 seats.
"We have scored ... a comprehensive victory, the significance of
which we cannot yet fully grasp tonight," Orban told a jubilant
crowd at his party's election headquarters.
Hungary's forint currency weakened 0.2 percent in early trade, while
Budapest's main equity index fell 1.3 percent by 0848 GMT.
Market players believe the central bank, led by a close Orban ally,
could weaken the currency further, a risky strategy at a time when
investors are already jittery about emerging markets.
Jobbik's performance is being watched closely for clues about how
other nationalist right-wing parties, such as France's Front
National and the Netherlands' Party for Freedom, will perform in
European Parliament elections next month.
In terms of its share of the national vote on party lists, Jobbik
won 20.54 percent, up from 15.86 percent of all votes four years
Its showing was the strongest of any far-right party in the EU in
the past few years, according to Cas Mudde, Assistant Professor at
the School for Public and International Affairs at the University of
Georgia in the United States.
He said the previous strongest result for a far-right group was the
20.5 percent won by Austria's Freedom Party last year.
"There is no doubt that Jobbik will be among the strongest far-right
parties in Europe, which is particularly striking because it is also
one of the most extreme of Europe's far-right parties," Mudde told
Jobbik has pledged to create jobs, be tough on crime, renegotiate
state debt and hold a referendum on EU membership. While it denies
being racist, it provides a lightning rod for suspicion among some
Hungarians towards the Roma and Jews.
Hungarian Gypsy Party chairman Aladar Horvath ran with the promise
of representing Hungary's 700,000 Roma, but his party got less than
9,000 votes. He said Jobbik's gains made it more difficult to end
tensions between Roma and majority Hungarians.
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"As Jobbik gains, Fidesz is forced to defend its voter base and act
tougher, but that toughness closes doors on us," Horvath told
Reuters. "Stricter law enforcement and Spartan social policy make it
harder for the Roma to break out of the ghettos."
Gabor Vona often works shifts in minimum wage jobs — a waiter, a
construction worker — to show he is in touch with ordinary people's
concerns. A senior party figure in 2012 proposed drawing up lists of
Jews in parliament, though he later apologised and said he was
"Jobbik is continuously ... increasing its popularity," Vona told
party supporters late on Sunday. "And ahead of the European
Parliament elections it is important to make clear that today in the
EU Jobbik is the strongest national radical party."
In the past four years, Orban's policies have included a
nationalisation of private pension funds, swingeing "crisis taxes"
on big business, and a relief scheme for mortgage holders for which
the banks, mostly foreign-owned, had to pay.
Orban has pledged more of the same if re-elected, and the business
community expects him in particular to press ahead with a plan to
transfer big chunks of the banking sector into Hungarian hands, and
impose more burdens on foreign power firms.
His policies helped Hungary emerge from recession, but some
economists say Orban may have scared off the kind of investment
Hungary needs for long-term growth.
"Big business do not want the frequent changes of policy,
particularly in terms of taxes, which were characteristic of Orban's
last term," said Timothy Ash of Standard Bank.
The election was a new low point for the leftists, who were pushed
out of office in 2010. Some Hungarians worry that, without a
credible challenge to his dominance, Orban has accumulated too much
Socialist leader Attila Mesterhazy declined to congratulate Orban,
saying the prime minister had won unfairly by changing the election
system to Fidesz's advantage and compromising media freedom — allegations the government denies.
(Additional reporting by Krisztina Than;
writing by Christian Lowe;
editing by Ralph Boulton)
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