Orban eyes fourth term as Hungarian premier

By bne IntelliNews December 14, 2015

Viktor Orban is eyeing a fourth term as Hungary's prime minister after being re-elected head of Fidesz. The news confirms the controversial premier will lead the ruling party into 2018 parliamentary elections.

Orban, who ran uncontested, was re-elected as chairman of Fidesz for another two years at a party convention in Budapest on December 13. The combative leader, who is currently serving a second consecutive term as premier, announced he plans to run for a third term in 2018. Orban first served as premier in 1998-2002 and returned to the post in 2010. He remained in the post through elections in April 2014.

“Within two years, if there is trust, I am ready to lead the election campaign and continue to be the head of government, if we win,” Orban said, according to Bloomberg.

Orban has seen approval ratings rise in recent months boosted by his tough stance on migration. An October poll by Nezopont Intezet showed 43% of respondents would elect Orban for premier, up from 28% in April. Orban has a strong lead over opponents, who managed only 7% support.

While popular at home, Orban's policies have earned him international criticism. The European Commission earlier this month launched an infringement procedure against Hungary over its refugee rules, the latest challenge of many from Brussels.

However, Orban wears such confrontation as a badge of honour. He has fought almost constantly with the EU since coming back to power; a tactic he clearly sees playing well to the domestic political audience.

Over the past five years, Fidesz has redrawn Hungary's laws, passing a new constitution and introducing taxes that largely hit foreign-owned businesses. The economy has returned to a somewhat solid footing, but the government has come under fire from the EU and US for curbing media freedoms, its reforms of the court system, centralization of power and a crackdown on civil society groups.

Upon being re-elected as party chairman, Orban pledged to create new jobs, increase support for families and boost construction of new flats by lowering the value added tax on home construction to 5% from 27% in coming years, according to Reuters.

 

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