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Sunday, April 15, 2018, 12:45
Protesters in Hungary demand new vote, new electoral system
By Associated Press
Sunday, April 15, 2018, 12:45 By Associated Press

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks during an international press conference in the Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary on April 10, 2018, two days after his Fidesz party in coalition with the Christian Democratic Party won a landslide victory in the general elections. (LAJOS SOOS/MTI VIA AP)

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters marched Saturday in the Hungarian capital of Budapest, demanding a new election and a new national electoral system in the biggest opposition rally in years.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban was re-elected last week. His right-wing populist Fidesz party won a supermajority in the national assembly, with preliminary results showing that Fidesz and tiny ally the Christian Democratic party won 134 seats in the 199-seat legislature.

Viktor Orban has promised "significant changes" in his next government, which could push for a constitutional amendment against migration

Opposition supporters are upset that Hungary's electoral rules have given Orban's party such a large majority in Parliament when it only won around 50 percent of the vote.

While the left-wing opposition parties won 12 of 18 seats at stake in Budapest districts, Fidesz won 85 of 88 seats outside the capital. The other 93 seats were allocated based on votes for party lists.

READ MORE: Hungarian PM Orban 'secures 3rd term in landslide win'

Protesters marched from the Opera to Parliament, shouting "New elections!" ''We are the majority!" ''Vik-tator!" and "Filthy Fidesz!"

The size of the crowd, overflowing from the city's Kossuth Square outside the striking neo-Gothic Parliament, rivalled the pro-government "Peace March" held on March 15.  Organizers said another anti-government protest would be held next weekend.

"We want new and fair elections," opposition activist Gergely Gulyas told the huge crowd. "This is the responsibility of the government and we're going to remind them of this, peacefully and massively."

Orban, whose campaign focused on the demonization of migrants, has promised "significant changes" in his next government, which could push for a constitutional amendment against migration.

Demonstrators dissatisfied with last week's general election results gather at the Parliament building at Kossuth square in downtown Budapest, Hungary, April 14, 2018. (MARTON MONUS/MTI VIA AP)

A fragmented opposition, a complex electoral system that disproportionately favors the biggest party and Orban's decision to greatly facilitate citizenship for Hungarians living in neighboring countries like Romania and Serbia all contributed to his large win on April 8.

Over 96 percent of voters in those bordering countries — including areas that Hungary lost after World War I — backed Orban's Fidesz party.

Orban claims that opposition parties want to turn Hungary into an "immigrant nation" with the help of the European Union, the United Nations and Hungarian-American billionaire and philanthropist George Soros. Opposition members deny the claim.

At the end of the rally Saturday, participants sang Hungary's national anthem, as well as the EU anthem, which is based on Ludwig van Beethoven's "Ode to Joy."

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