BUDAPEST â€” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor OrbÃ¡n scored a crushing victory in a parliamentary election on Sunday, securing a fourth consecutive term for the populist Kremlin-friendly leader.
With over 90 percent of votesÂ counted, an alliance dominated byÂ OrbÃ¡nâ€™s right-wing Fidesz party was on track to win 135 seats in Hungaryâ€™s 199-seat parliament.Â
Since beginning a second stint in power in 2010, OrbÃ¡n has repeatedly clashed with EU institutions â€” which have accused him of undermining democracy and the rule of law â€” while developing a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
â€œWe have never perhaps looked as good as we do tonight,â€ OrbÃ¡n told supporters in Budapest on Sunday night, declaring that his party achieved â€œsuch a victory that is can be seen from the moon â€” but from Brussels for sure.â€
The election campaign was deeply impacted by Russiaâ€™s war in Ukraine, with the prime minister casting himself as a guardian of stability.Â
OrbÃ¡n has been attacked by Ukrainian PresidentÂ Volodymyr Zelenskyy for taking a softer line with Moscow than other EU leaders. While the Hungarian government hasÂ condemned Russiaâ€™s invasion and backed EU sanctions on Moscow, it has opposed a ban on Russian energy imports and declined to bilaterally provide Kyiv with weapons.Â
Ahead of Sundayâ€™s vote, experts warned that the electoral playing field was skewed in favor of the ruling party.Â
About 53 percent of Hungarians voted in favor of the Fidesz national list, according to the results, while the party took 88 of the countryâ€™s 106 voting districts.Â
The opposition alliance won nearly 35 percent of the national list vote and secured 56 seats.
In his speech, OrbÃ¡n hit out figures ranging from Zelenskyy to Hungarian-American financier George Soros â€” a longtime target of his attacks â€” while thanking conservative allies in countries ranging from the United States to Serbia.Â
â€œItâ€™s not just our victory,â€ OrbÃ¡n said, adding that his brand of politics is â€œnot the past, itâ€™s the future.â€Â
The outcome was met with deep disappointment within a six-party opposition coalition that came together across ideological lines in a bid to unseat the longtime leader.
PÃ©ter MÃ¡rki-Zay, a conservative provincial mayor who ran as the oppositionâ€™s candidate for prime minister, acknowledged OrbÃ¡nâ€™s victory â€œin this systemâ€ but said that â€œpropaganda wonâ€ the election for Fidesz and that the contest was unfair.
â€œWe did everything,â€ he told a small crowd of supporters who gathered in Budapest, some of them in tears.
â€œDifficult times are coming,â€ he said, adding: â€œDonâ€™t give up.â€
This article has been updated.