Parliamentary Chamber: Országgyülés


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Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  10 May 1998
24 May 1998

Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all the seats in Parliament on the normal expiry of the members' term of office.

Background and outcome of elections:

  In the 1998 parliamentary elections, the governing Hungarian Socialist Party (MSzP), led by Prime Minister Gyula Horn, was opposed chiefly by the Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ MPP), headed by Mr. Viktor Orban. Both parties had important allies: the Socialists counting on their junior coalition partner, the liberal Alliance of Free Democrats (SzDSz), and FIDESz on the Independent Smallholders’ Party (FKgP). Altogether 1602 candidates from 26 parties contested the first round of voting.

During the campaign, Mr. Horn heralded the achievements of his coalition Government since it took power in 1994: revitalization of the economy through a reform and austerity programme that spurred growth while reducing inflation and, in foreign affairs, bringing Hungary to the threshold of joining NATO and the European Union; the Socialists’ slogan was « opportunity and security for all ». The center-right FIDESz countered by emphasizing law and order and the fight against crime and corruption; on the economic front, it stressed the need to aid the poor and reduce unemployment through growth.

Although opinion polls favored the Socialists, their edge shrank as the elections neared. The first round of voting - marked by a low turnout - revealed a close contest and, prior to the all-important second round on 24 May, many third-place candidates withdrew in favor of better-placed challengers from allied parties. This tactic paid off for the youthful FIDESz, as after the runoff it emerged with the largest number of National Assembly seats (148) while MSzP - the successor party to the country’s Communists - and especially its partner SzDSz, headed by Mr. Gabor Kuncze, incurred heavy losses. In the meantime, the agrarian-based FKgP, under the leadership of Mr. Joszef Torgyan, made an overall gain of 22 seats. The anti-left vote was furthermore evidenced by the success of the far-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP), led by Mr. Istvan Csurka, which entered Parliament for the first time. Altogether seven parties achieved Assembly representation, five having been knocked out after the first round.

On 18 June, President of the Republic Arpad Göncz asked Mr. Orban - who had faced Mr. Horn in a televised debate of 20 May - to form the new Government. He did so on 6 July and, at 35, became the youngest Hungarian Prime Minister of the 20th century. His coalition Cabinet, comprising FIDESZ, FKgP and the Hungarian Democratic Forum, was sworn in on 8 July.

Round no 1 (10 May 1998): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 8,062,708
Voters 4,536,254 (56.26%)
Round no 2 (24 May 1998): Elections results  
Voters 57.01%

Round no 1: Distribution of votes  
Political Group %
Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ MPP) 29.48
Hungarian Socialist Party (MSzP) 32.92
Independent Smallholders' Party (FKgP) 13.15
Alliance of Free Democrats (SzDSz) 7.57
Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) 3.10
Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP) 5.47
Others and independents 8.31

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total Gain/Loss
Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ MPP) 148 +128
Hungarian Socialist Party (MSzP) 134 -75
Independent Smallholders' Party (FKgP) 48 +22
Alliance of Free Democrats (SzDSz) 24 -45
Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) 17 -21
Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP) 14 +14
Others and independents 1 -23

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 354
Women: 32

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