Hungary MPs re-elect Orban ally Janos Ader as president

The vote for the largely ceremonial presidential role was a mere formality given that the ruling Fidesz party of premier Viktor Orban holds close to a two-thirds majority.

Published: 13th March 2017 09:32 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th March 2017 09:32 PM   |  A+A-

Hungarian President Janos Ader. (Photo | AP)

Hungarian President Janos Ader. (Photo | AP)

By AFP

BUDAPEST: Hungarian lawmakers on Monday re-elected President Janos Ader for a new five-year term, marking a comfortable victory for the right-wing government ally over his leftist rival.

Ader beat opposition candidate Laszlo Majtenyi in a second-round runoff by 131 votes to 39 in the 199-seat parliament.

The vote for the largely ceremonial presidential role was a mere formality given that the ruling Fidesz party of premier Viktor Orban holds close to a two-thirds majority.

Despite his defeat however, respected former ombudsman Majtenyi, 66, nonetheless managed a rare feat in this election -- uniting Hungary's normally warring leftist parties behind him.

In the last election five years ago, 57-year-old Ader ran uncontested.

But ahead of next year's general election, the fragmented left bloc -- made up of the Socialist Party and several smaller outfits -- has been trying to set aside its rifts and come up with a common strategy to take on Orban, in power since 2010.

His opponents have denounced the strongman for undermining key democratic institutions in sweeping reforms and stifling press freedom.

"(We need) a return to independent institutions guaranteeing our constitutional rights," Majtenyi said in a speech Monday.

Fidesz currently enjoys a comfortable lead over the Socialists and the radical right Jobbik party, which both vie for a distant second place.

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