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Ruling party poised to win Hungary poll

Exit polls show PM Viktor Orban's Fidesz secures wide lead over the opposition alliance, winning 48 percent of ballots.

Last updated: 06 Apr 2014 19:11
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Critics have expressed concerns about checks and balances on key democratic institutions in Hungary [AFP]

Hungary's strongman Prime Minister Viktor Orban is set to stay in power for another four years as exit polls have given his party a wide lead over the opposition in parliamentary elections.

The ruling Fidesz party won 48 percent of the vote on Sunday, well ahead the Socialist-led opposition alliance on 27 percent and the far-right Jobbik on 18 percent, the polls showed.

It was unclear, however, whether this would be enough for the right-wing Orban, 50, to retain his two-thirds majority in parliament.

Official results are due later on Sunday.

Orban has pledged to stick to his policies if reelected, continuing to cut energy prices and getting rid of foreign currency mortgages that are burdening households. Foreign banks fear this could inflict further losses.

The party has pledged to create jobs, be tough on crime, renegotiate state debt and hold a referendum on EU membership.

Tight grip on power

Orban has made the most of the super-majority he won in 2010, with a legislative onslaught shaking up the media, the judiciary and the central bank.

Critics, including Brussels and Washington, have expressed concerns about vital checks and balances on key democratic institutions in the EU member state.

The fate of the media has sparked particular alarm, with state outlets merged into one tame entity and independent publications starved of advertising. All are under the close eye of a new watchdog run by Orban lieutenants.

"The Internet is where you go to find out what is really happening in Hungary," Aranka Szavuly, a freelance journalist fired from state media in 2011, told AFP news agency.

Many of these reforms have been written into a new constitution, meaning that even if the opposition were to win, it would need a two-thirds majority to change them.

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