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Hungary's Center-Right Fidesz Party Claims Sweeping Election Victory

Prime Minister-elect Viktor Orban delivers his victory speech on April 25.
(RFE/RL) -- Hungarian Prime Minister-elect Viktor Orban says the Hungarian people have carried out a revolution through the ballot box, using democratic means to give the economically depressed country a fresh start.

Orban spoke to thousands of cheering supporters in Budapest late on April 25, after the electorate gave his Fidesz Hungarian Civic Alliance an unprecedented two-thirds majority in parliament in the second round of voting.

Orban gave no quarter to outgoing Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai's defeated socialists, whom he has accused of economic and political mismanagement and corruption.

"The Hungarian people today have ousted the regime of oligarchs who misused their power, and the people have established a new regime -- a regime of national unity," Orban said.

Preliminary official figures show Fidesz with 263 seats -- five more than are needed for a two-thirds majority in the parliament. The socialists were almost annihilated, losing more than two-thirds of their seats to end with only 59. Coming in third with 47 seats was the far-right Jobbik party.

Orban has promised to restore prosperity to the country, which came close to financial collapse and had to accept a 20 billion euro ($26.7 billion) bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2008. The economy shrank by 6.7 percent last year, throwing many Hungarians into desperation.

He has promised to create 1 million jobs over the next 10 years, cut taxes and bureaucracy, and make it easier for Hungarians abroad to gain Hungarian citizenship.

An elderly voter, Maria Holecska, summed up the desire to make something better out of the country, two decades after the fall of communism. "I just want a better future for my grandchildren, it doesn't matter whether with Fidesz or [socialist] MSZP or whatever party, I just want life be better for my grandchildren," she said.

Analysts say that Orban has only a short time to make improvements before the electorate begins to lose patience. And they note it will not be an easy job, as Budapest is committed to a continuing austerity program as a condition of receiving the IMF/EU aid.

Fidesz is expected to approach the lenders to allow the budget deficit to rise from the present strict limit of 3.8 percent of GDP to over 6 percent, so as to give some room for economic reorganization. The party says the larger deficit can be responsibly coped with.

But one analyst cautions that the reality remains difficult. Sandor Richter of the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies is quoted by Reuters as saying that Fidesz's popularity is to a large extent based on "illusionary expectations" that there's an easy way out of Hungary's problems.

Some analysts also say that the last time Orban and Fidesz were in power, from 1998 to 2002, their quality of decision-making was not noticeably wiser than that of other parties.