Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban has won his third consecutive term in office in a landslide victory.
Orban’s party Fidesz won almost half of the vote, with 93% of ballots counted. Turnout stood at 69%, higher than the final turnout of 62% in the last election in 2014.
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Second place in the vote went to Jobbik, the far-right party that has attempted to rebrand itself as an anti-corruption centrist force. The party is set to win just 26 seats and its leader, Gábor Vona, said he would resign.
Victory for Fidesz is a blow to the European Union, which has struggled in recent years to make its Eastern members feel they are gaining from membership.
Orban has strongly criticised the EU throughout his two terms in office and his campaign, insisting that Hungary will not accept the compulsory redistribution of migrants.
Orban told Hungarians that “tens of millions” of migrants from Africa and the Middle East would bring terror, crime and rape if they were allowed into the country and has built a fence along the country’s southern border to keep out migrants.
He also has claimed to be fighting a conspiracy to destroy Hungary led by the Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros.
The victory was hailed by Poland’s deputy foreign minister and envoy to the European Union, Konrad Szymanski, who called it a “confirmation of Central Europe’s emancipation policy”.
Szymanski told the country’s private TVN-24 broadcaster:
Emancipation not directed at fighting anybody but at making Central Europe visible as a very constructive European and European Union partner.
The win is the latest for a wave of Euroscepticism that has swept the continent in recent years.
Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, tweeted Orban her congratulations and said the “mass immigration promoted by the EU has been rejected once again”. Le Pen lost out to French President Emmanuel Macron last year in a presidential runoff that pitted her Euroscepticism against Macron’s pro-EU agenda.
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Grande et nette victoire de Viktor Orban en #Hongrie 🇭🇺 : l'inversion des valeurs et l'immigration de masse prônées par l'UE sont à nouveau rejetées.
Les nationaux peuvent être majoritaires en Europe aux prochaines #Européennes2019 ! MLP
— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) April 8, 2018
Orban said his victory gave Hungarians “the opportunity to defend themselves and to defend Hungary”.
Orban told a crowd of cheering supporters in the capital, Budapest on Sunday evening:
Dear friends, there’s a big battle behind us, we secured a historic victory – we got a chance, we created a chance for us to protect Hungary. The high voter turnout puts every doubt into brackets.
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe is due to present a report into the election on Monday, which could be critical of the legal and media environment around the vote.