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June 27, 2017

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Hungary's Prime Minister Orban maintains two-thirds legislative majority

BUDAPEST Hungary -- Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban retained his controlling two-thirds majority in parliament following last week's election, a final ballot count revealed early Sunday, giving him free legislative rein for the next four years.

"(Orban's ruling) Fidesz party won a two-thirds parliamentary majority at the April 6 election," a statement published by state news agency MTI read.

The result was based on 99.99 percent of votes counted by the national election office, MTI said.

Parties can appeal the results however, with official figures only due to be published by April 25.

Orban's ruling right-wing Fidesz party was already the clear winner of the election hours after polls closed last Sunday. But its two-thirds majority remained in doubt until ballots from abroad — which could have changed the outcome in several voting districts — were counted.

In the end, these ballots made little difference, with Fidesz winning 45.1 percent of votes, far ahead of the Socialist-led center-left alliance with 25.7 percent and with the far-right Jobbik party scoring its best result ever with 20.3 percent.

This means Fidesz (along with its junior coalition partner the Christian Democrats) will have 133 seats in the new 199-seat parliament — barely scraping together a two-thirds majority but still allowing it to steamroll legislation through parliament without the need for approval from any other party — while 38 seats will go to the Socialist-led alliance and 23 to Jobbik.

The small green party LMP will have five seats after winning 5.4 percent of the vote.

Orban already put his supermajority to devastating use during his first term, launching a legislative blitz that opponents said tightened his control over democratic institutions and restricted checks and balances.

The Fidesz-led government wrote a controversial new constitution and passed over 800 new laws through parliament. Orban also placed loyal appointees — some with nine-year terms — in charge of institutions such as the media authority, the central bank and the constitutional court.

The prime minister insists he has cleaned up the chaos left by eight years of left-wing "post-communist" government and that his popularity at home is a vindication of his policies.

His opponents have complained however that new election rules have rigged the system in Fidesz's favor.

With changes to the constitution and major laws already passed during his first term, some analysts say Orban will now focus on consolidating his power.

The firebrand 50-year-old premier has often clashed with the European Union and foreign investors over his unorthodox policies such as "special" taxes on banks and retailers and price controls on household energy costs.

Following his election victory, Orban already vowed to "continue the work we have begun" regardless of whether his government had an all-important two-thirds majority of seats.

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