Fidesz wins Hungary elections

Hungary's next prime minister Viktor Orban has declared election victory for his centre-right Fidesz party and said Hungarians had voted on Sunday to "defeat hopelessness".

"Hungarians voted on Hungary and Hungary's future. Today Hungary's citizens have defeated hopelessness," he told party supporters.

"I feel it with all my nerves and know it deep in my heart that I face the biggest task of my life. I will need all the Hungarian people to solve that."

Centre-right Fidesz won Hungary's parliamentary election after promising jobs and growth.

Some polling stations were kept open hours beyond the expected end of voting, threatening to mar the celebrations for Fidesz, whose supporters had waited eight years in opposition, culminating in the near financial collapse of the country.

All the opinion polls had pointed to a Fidesz victory, and the weight of expectation to act quickly to put Hungary back on a track of sustainable growth will be immense, from Hungarians and investors alike.

Economists say Fidesz will need to implement deep reforms to reduce the local government sector and make the health care and education systems more efficient.

It is not immediately clear if it has already won the two thirds of seats needed to push the reforms through parliament ahead of an April 25 second election round, when the remaining 121 seats will be decided.

Fidesz secured 206 out of 386 parliamentary seats, the National Election Committee said on its website based its numbers on individual constituencies and party list votes. The Socialists gained 28 seats, ahead of the far-right Jobbik party which had 26 seats in the first round.

Green liberal LMP is the fourth party which passed the threshold to get into parliament, and secured 5 seats.

Analysts said ahead of the results that if Fidesz won 53-55 percent of party list votes and 120-130 seats in individual constituencies in the first round, it stands a strong chance of securing two-thirds of the seats.

"The Socialists and Jobbik are below 20 percent. This means that Fidesz has a good chance to garner two-thirds of parliament seats even if it will lose some seats in the second round," said Attila Juhasz, analyst at Political Capital after the results.

Fidesz, which last ruled between 1998 and 2002, has campaigned on cutting taxes, creating jobs and supporting local businesses to boost to Hungary's ailing economy.

"We have been waiting for this for eight years; no, for 22 years, since Fidesz was founded," Magdolna Karbacz, 44, an entrepreneur from the western city of Szekesfehervar said at Fidesz headquarters in downtown Budapest.

The Socialist government, led by technocrat Gordon Bajnai since April 2009, made painful budget cuts to rein in the deficit under a deal led by the International Monetary Fund, which provided emergency financing for Hungary amid a crisis in 2008.

The country's economy contracted by 6.3 percent last year, while unemployment is running at 11.4 percent - the highest since 1994 - which has further increased public discontent.

Fidesz is led by seasoned politician Viktor Orban, 46, who was the prime minister heading the last Fidesz government and whom many supporters hope to restore Hungary's national pride.

"Fundamentally, this country needs a renewal in its soul and in its morals. This elections can help achieving that if the (new) leaders will represent that," said Peter Buki, 37.

Analysts said the delay may prompt appeals from parties affected, although it was unlikely to affect the overall result.

Fidesz earlier called on the election committee chiefs to resign.

Reuters