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Tightening grip: on Hungary PM’s re-election

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Hungarian voters have handed Prime Minister Viktor Orbán a third term in office. In Sunday’s election, his right-wing Fidesz party and its Christian Democrat allies won around half the vote and two-thirds of the seats. This will give Mr. Orbán, who revels (gain great pleasure from (a situation)) in his hyper-nationalist strongman image, the super-majority he needs to further tighten his grip ( have a strong or adverse effect on) on Hungary. The nationalist Jobbik party came in second with 20% of the vote, making it the principal opposition, with the Socialists getting 12% and the Green Party 7%. Though a high turnout of about 70% was expected to help the Opposition, the electoral process has been questionable.

The technical administration of the elections was transparent and there was a wide range of candidates to choose from. But critics (a person who expresses an unfavourable opinion of something) say the playing field was not fair, given media bias, a blurry (not clearly or distinctly visible or audible) line between party and government resources, and ‘intimidating (scare ; Discourage) and xenophobic (having or showing a dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries) rhetoric (expression ; delivery) ’. Over his previous terms Mr. Orbán had anointed (nominate or choose (someone) as successor to or leading candidate for a position) himself as a spokesperson for ‘Christian Europe’, protecting it from what he sees as Islamisation — his campaign included posters of a stop sign superimposed (place or lay (one thing) over another, typically so that both are still evident) on to an image of migrants walking across Europe.

It is therefore not surprising that Fidesz performed strongly in small towns and rural areas, where Mr. Orbán’s anti-migrant message rang out the loudest. Over the last few years, as millions of migrants found their way to Europe, Mr. Orbán did not stop at just rhetoric. He refused to participate in the EU’s migrant resettlement plan and built a fence on Hungary’s boundary with Serbia and Croatia to keep them out.He has also portrayed Hungary as a country at risk from foreign agents and has been accused of anti-Semitism. In a move seen as a bid to contain Hungarian-born Jewish American philanthropist George Soros’s work, Mr. Orbán introduced new funding laws for NGOs and passed a bill that would impact Mr. Soros’s Central European University. This is in addition to imposing controls on the media and tampering (interfere with (something) in order to cause damage or make unauthorized alterations) with the judicial system.

A third term for Fidesz has implications not just for Hungary but for all of Europe. It is likely to polarise Western and Central European countries, which are wary of Brussels and want to see a directional change for Europe, closing it to migrants. In the European Parliament, the Fidesz is part of the largest party, the European People’s Party, a grouping of mostly centre-right parties that includes Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats; Mr Orbán’s victory could change the dynamics in this group, pulling some or all within it further right. Brussels has greeted (receive or acknowledge (something) in a specified way) the results with caution. But not all of Europe is worried; far-right leaders in France and Germany were quick to congratulate Mr. Orbán, and see in his victory a shot in the arm for their ideologies.

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