April 23, 2006

Socialist-led coalition wins in Hungary

Hungary's Socialists achieve historic election win.

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary's Socialist-led coalition won a general election on Sunday with an increased majority in parliament to become the country's first government to retain power since communism fell in 1989.

With 98 percent of the vote counted in the second round of polling, the election commission projected the Socialist Party and its Free Democrat allies would increase their majority from 198 to 210 seats in the 386-member parliament.

It was a personal triumph for 44-year-old Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, who rescued the Socialists from what looked certain defeat when he became premier in 2004, and provides him with a stronger platform to push through reforms.

"We understand the responsibility we have been given. We have to create a better, more successful Hungary that is better to live in," Gyurcsany, a millionaire businessman, told hundreds of ecstatic supporters, some of them waving the national flag. [Maybe my knowledge of Euro-socialism is a bit foggy... but something about a "millionaire businessman" and "socialism" seems odd to me. --ed.]

Gyurcsany now faces a test to convince investors holding billions of dollars of Hungarian bonds and the European Union that Hungary will finally take action to cut its budget deficit, the biggest in the EU relative to the size of the economy.

His charisma played a role in his victory and, unlike many other leaders across central Europe, he did not have the stigma of having held a senior post under communist rule.

He has so far avoided taking the tough decisions that are needed to reform the economy but which could have turned off voters, and gained from rifts in the right-wing opposition.


Conceding defeat, opposition leader and former Prime Minister Viktor Orban told supporters: "Those who join forces win and the losers are those who are unable to cooperate."

[...]No government had been re-elected in the four other free elections since the collapse of communist rule.

Posted by Kyer at April 23, 2006 05:49 PM | TrackBack