Hungary President Recommends Viktor Orban as Prime Minister

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary’s president recommended Tuesday that lawmakers re-elect Prime Minister Viktor Orban to what would be his third consecutive term as he focuses on pushing through constitutional changes.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside parliament to protest against what they believe is Orban’s growing authoritarianism, and widespread corruption.

Orban’s Fidesz party and its small ally, the Christian Democratic People’s Party, won 133 of 199 seats in the national assembly in the April 8 election, securing a two-thirds majority which will allow them to amend the Constitution unchallenged. Lawmakers are expected to vote on Orban’s new term as prime minister on Thursday afternoon.

“I asked Prime Minister Viktor Orban to form the new government and he accepted the request,” President Janos Ader said.

Once again in command of a supermajority, Orban’s selection is virtually automatic and it would be his fourth term overall leading Hungary. He has vowed a constitutional amendment to give parliament final say over any efforts to settle foreigners in the country.

An attempt to pass such an amendment in 2016 — meant to foil EU plans to resettle asylum-seekers — failed because Fidesz had lost in by-elections the supermajority it won in 2014.

A package of so-called Stop Soros laws, which would greatly restrict non-governmental groups working with refugees and asylum-seekers, is also a legislative priority for the government. Orban blames Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros and groups he sponsors for supporting mass migration to Europe, a charge they reject.

While officials attended the first parliamentary session after the national election, several hundred protesters gathered outside the legislature. The rally was peaceful, with most people shouting slogans against Orban.

But there was some scuffling between police and a small group of protesters who tried to get nearer to the parliament exits to jeer and taunt politicians and guests leaving the building.

Addressing the newly elected lawmakers, Ader urged them to amend election laws, in part to weed out small parties which he suggested ran only to gain access to state funds.

Ader said 15 of the 23 parties which had candidates across the country got less than 0.5 percent of the votes each, with those occupying the last 10 places getting a total of little more than 22,000 votes from over 5.7 million votes cast.

Ader, noting that the 23 parties received at least 153 million forints ($576,500) for their campaigns, said it was necessary to prevent some from “making a business out of the feast of democracy.”

Echoing Orban’s position, Ader warned against the continent becoming a highly centralized “European super-state.”

“We don’t want something like the United States of America on European soil,” Ader said. “We want a united, democratic, citizen-friendly, active and fundamentally federal Europe.”

Also similarly to Orban, whose government has run “Let’s Stop Brussels” campaigns and blames the EU bureaucracy for encroaching on the rights of individual countries, Ader said some EU leaders “seem to have lost their compass,” adding that there was a lack of “a clear vision of the future” and “intellectual laziness” within the bloc.

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