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Hungary's lawmakers elect Viktor Orban to 3rd term

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PABLO GORONDI | May 10, 2014 01:21 PM EST | AP

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungarian lawmakers on Saturday elected Viktor Orban to his third term as prime minister, a month after his Fidesz party won its second consecutive two-thirds majority in the legislature.

Orban was supported by 130 deputies from Fidesz and its small ally, the Christian Democrats, while 57 lawmakers from the opposition parties voted against him.

Speaking in the legislature after the swearing-in ceremony, the 50-year-old prime minister said his re-election would allow him to continue with the policies of the past four years.

"After such difficult years, when we totally renewed and reorganized Hungary, voters still entrusted us to carry on with our work," Orban said.

According to voters, "it is better for the country to continue in the current, determined es unfaltering direction, than to reopen the age of sterile arguments," Orban said, noting that Hungarians felt that the inability of politicians to agree on key issues had stilted progress. "Despite freedom, democracy, a market economy and the sure signs of development, the public feeling is that we are standing in place."

"It is time to work," Orban said. "We have to continue the age of deeds and actions."

The Orban government has attained significant economic achievements — lower inflation and unemployment and budding signs of growth — but many of the gains have been the result of unsustainable practices.

Labor data has been lifted by large public works programs and the inclusion of some of the Hungarians working abroad, while inflation has fallen in great part thanks to mandatory cuts in energy prices for households.

The country's accounts have also profited from the nationalization of $14 billion in assets administered by private pension funds and heavy taxes on banks, retailers, telecommunications companies. At 27 percent, Hungary also has the highest value-added tax in the European Union.

Critics have also attacked Orban's concentration of power and the weakening of democratic norms.

Later, Orban spoke to a large crowd of supporters outside parliament, urging them to vote for Fidesz in the upcoming European parliamentary elections.