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Hungary's ruling party wins first round of general election
www.chinaview.cn 2006-04-10 12:52:25

    BUDAPEST, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany's Socialists party (MSZP) finished first in the initial round of elections on Sunday, but the final result will be decided in a run-off later this month.

    "No matter how I look at these results, the Socialists have won the first round," Gyurcsany told his supporters at party headquarters. "We won, and this means Hungary will also win."

    As 97.34 percent of the ballots were counted before midnight on Sunday, the governing MSZP took 43.30 percent of the vote while its main rival, the Fidesz party, garnered 42.16 percent, according to the National Election Office.

    The liberal Free Democrats, the junior coalition partner, scored 6.25 percent and the conservative Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) got 5.03 percent. Both of the smaller parties exceeded the 5-percent threshold needed to enter parliament.

    However, Gyurcsany admitted that the election was not over as he convened supporters to a rally near the national parliament for the start of a fierce campaign leading up to the second round.

    "The election is not over yet," he said. "We will fight this race and we will emerge victorious."

    In the first round of elections, 214 of the parliament's 386 seats were decided. The Socialists-led coalition won 114 seats, according to a partial count, while Fidesz took 98 and two went to the MDF.

    As no party can win an overall majority in the first round, a second round run-off is to take place on April 23. And with 172 seats still up for grabs, the final outcome is difficult to predict.

    The winning party must poll a majority in both rounds. Failing this, a third round has to be held between the two leading parties.

    Also on Sunday, a senior official of the Fidesz party congratulated the MDF on making its way into parliament in the election.

    Fidesz would initiate coalition negotiations with the MDF, enabling them to replace the socialist-liberal government, he said.

    The results of Sunday's poll were valid because more than half of eligible voters had cast their ballots in all of the 20 regions of the country, said the National Election Office.

    According to the electoral authority, voter turnout was 67.7 percent.

    The elections on Sunday, the first in Hungary since it joined the European Union (EU) in 2004, come at a time when the country's budget deficit is in urgent need of controlling and the economy needs steering toward the adoption of the euro in 2010.

    This year, Hungary's budget deficit is expected to be more than double the EU limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). The country has also to deal with unemployment and other pressing issues such as the modernization of health and education sectors. Enditem

Editor: Chen Feng
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