June 14. 2024. 1:19

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Orbán’s party strongest but loses ground in EU elections

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party emerged strongest in Sunday’s EU elections but lost ground, according to almost-final results, in what could be its worst score in its 14-year rule.

With nearly 90% of the votes counted, Fidesz came out on top at 44%, but well down from the 52% it won in the last EU elections in 2019.

Amid a record high voter turnout of around 60%, the Tisza party of Péter Magyar — who has emerged as Orbán’s main challenger — managed to gain about 30% of the vote.

Describing the EU vote as “an all European pro-peace or pro-war election” as the war in Ukraine rages on, Orbán insisted Hungarians had “clearly sent out a message that they want peace”.

The 61-year-old nationalist premier is increasingly stoking fears of a war between the West and Russia, which he blames on Brussels and NATO.

As Moscow’s closest EU ally since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Orbán has refused to send weapons to Kyiv while blocking European military aid.

“Today we have defeated the old opposition, today we have defeated the new opposition, and… we will defeat it again and again,” Orbán told supporters in Budapest.

But his opponent Magyar, a 43-year-old former government insider, also hailed Sunday’s results.

“What is apparent is that this is now the Waterloo of the Orbán power factory, the beginning of the end,” he told supporters.

Magyar has drawn huge crowds at recent rallies by railing against a “system” firmly under the control of Orbán, who is the EU’s longest-serving leader.

Hungary’s Magyar says Orbán’s government can be replaced

EU election results will show Hungarians that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government can be replaced, political newcomer Péter Magyar said after a campaign rally attended by tens of thousands on the eve of the polls.

The self-declared conservative shot to prominence earlier this year following a child abuse pardon scandal that shook Orbán’s government in an unprecedented way.

Nearly eight million voters were called to the polls on Sunday in Hungary.

Ahead of the elections, Orbán — a frequent and harsh critic of Brussels — has vowed to “occupy Brussels”.

The elections saw striking gains for the far-right in several European countries.

After being forced to leave the EPP in 2021, in the outgoing European Parliament, Fidesz was among the Non-Inscrits, the non-attached MEPs who do not belong to any recognised group.

Orbán has reaffirmed his desire for MEPs from his Fidesz party to join the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group after the European elections, in a recent interview with the French magazine Le Point.

Hungary, European Parliament election today:

96% of the polling stations counted

Fidesz/KDNP-NI|EPP: 44.4% (-8.2)
TISZA→EPP: 29.8% (new)
DK/MSZP/P-S&D|G/EFA: 8.2% (-14.5)
MH~NI: 6.8% (+3.5)
Momentum-RE: 3.7% (-6.1)
MKKP→G/EFA: 3.6% (+1.0)
Jobbik-NI: 1.0% (-5.4)
LMP-G/EFA:… pic.twitter.com/QpgwqhkA1E

— Europe Elects (@EuropeElects) June 10, 2024

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