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Hungarians Demand Better Life After Elections

  • Stefan Bos

The polls have opened in Hungary for the second round of legislative elections. Hungarians have made the center-right party Fidesz the favorite as they try to recover from the deepest recession in years.

At a market near gray apartment buildings in a Budapest workers district, Hungarians are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the country's final round of parliamentary elections.

The ballot is being held exactly 20 years after Hungary's first democratic elections following decades of Communist, one-party, rule.

Opinion polls suggest the center-right Fidesz will become the first Hungarian party since the collapse of communism to win a two-thirds parliamentary majority.

International investors hope this will clear the way for Fidesz plans to fight the nation's deep recession, widespread corruption, and to reform the huge, troubled, public sector.

Fidesz supporter and entrepreneur Laszlo Toth wants his party to help business people and cut taxes soon.

Toth, who runs a small accounting firm, says the government should "not only squeeze money out from the one-million successful business people here" who he suggests support the rest of Hungary's 10 million population. He adds that it is high time to reduce the number of state employees.

But elsewhere at the Budapest market, an elderly woman selling milk products from a nearby town, believes that fighting rampant poverty should be the government's main concern.

The woman, who identifies herself only as Erzsebet, starts to cry when asked by VOA what she expects from the next prime minister.

She explains that she is among the many Hungarians who 20 years ago only received small compensation for agricultural lands that were nationalized by the communists. "Now many people just work for a plate of soup," she says.

Poverty is believed to be among the reasons why Fidesz defeated the ruling Socialists in the first round of elections two weeks ago.

Additionally, polls show that the far-right Movement for a Better Hungary, known as Jobbik, will enter parliament for the first time as the third political force.

Jobbik leaders have been criticized for perceived anti-Semitic statements and verbal attacks on the country's gypsy, or Roma, minority, as at least some Hungarians search for scapegoats for the country's economic difficulties.

Fidesz has ruled out a coalition government with Jobbik or another party, amid international concerns about the future direction of Hungary. The country joined the European Union in 2004, along with several other former communist nations.