- Title: HUNGARY: Slim lead for Hungary's government after first round vote
- Date: 11th April 2006
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER FERENC GYURCSANY, SAYING: "Those who said that they do not want to have a two-party parliament have won in Hungary. Those, who cleverly want a world in which we will find common ground together, which will make this country fair. This country should have a democratic, four-party parliament, this is what we argued for."
- Embargoed: 26th April 2006 13:00
- Location: Hungary
- Country: Hungary
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAQYVIYQNSPKIXXR6YHBA0JFBS
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Hungary's ruling centre-left inched ahead of the conservative opposition in the first round of general elections on Sunday (April 9, 2006), setting the stage for a fierce battle in an April 23 run-off.
With almost all the votes counted, the ruling Socialists of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany and their liberal ally, the Free Democrats, had captured 50 percent of the vote.
Their conservative rival Fidesz won 42.1 percent but the right's hope of snatching power away was kept alive by a surprise entry into parliament of another conservative party, the Democratic Forum, which scraped past the 5 percent threshold. At the Socialist party headquarters Gyurcsany was upbeat, saying it was a huge achievement of his party to beat Fidesz after opinion polls showed them trailing behind for much of 2005. He said the results were a victory for those who wanted to see a pluralist parliament.
"Those who said that they do not want to have a two-party parliament have won in Hungary. Those, who cleverly want a world in which we will find common ground together, which will make this country fair. This country should have a democratic, four-party parliament, this is what we argued for," he said to his enthusiastic supporters.
At Fidesz party headquarters a large gathering of supporters watched the results as they were revealed on the big screen.
The crowds cheered every apparent win, and then felt the strain as they failed to move ahead of the government. But despite finishing behind, Fidesz party leader, Viktor Orbin was defiant as he spoke to supporters late into the night.
"We will fight on in the next two weeks. We will fight, not for ourselves, my dear friends, but for Hungary. For the Hungarians in Hungary, and outside the borders, and for our future. And we will do all we can for victory, " he said.
Analysts say the advantage of the two ruling parties in the first election since Hungary joined the European Union in 2004 was slim and could disappear in the decisive second round. The second ballot is necessary because Hungary's electoral system mixes proportional representation with allocating under half of parliaments' 386 seats on a first-past-the-post basis.
Just 66 of the 176 individual districts were decided on Sunday and the pool of the remaining seats is big enough to swing the final result either way, analysts said.
A Gyurcsany win would mark the first time a post-communist Hungarian government has stayed on for a second term. It would be a personal triumph after he remodelled the heirs of the once authoritarian Communist party into a pro-market, liberal force.
Fidesz has portrayed Gyurcsany and his group as sleazy "limousine socialists" who cater for the rich.
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