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Hungary: Socialists Win First Round Of Elections

Budapest, 8 April 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Hungary's opposition Socialists have scored a narrow victory over the governing center-right coalition of Prime Minister Viktor Orban in the first round of parliamentary elections. With 100 percent of yesterday's vote counted, results show the Socialists with about 42 percent against about 41 percent for Orban's FIDESZ-Hungarian Civic Party.

Orban has refused to accept defeat, instead saying his party faces hard work ahead of the second-round vote due on 21 April.

Second-round votes are due to be held in 176 directly elected constituencies or where turnout was less than 50 percent.

Party lists will fill 210 of parliament's 386 seats.

The liberal Free Democrats, who have indicated a readiness to enter a coalition with the Socialists, finished in third place in yesterday's polling with more than 5 percent, enough to win parliament seats.

The extremist Justice and Life Party (MIEP) was trailing with about 4 percent, not enough to gain seats.

Voter turnout was more than 71 percent, the highest since the end of communist rule.