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Sunday, 21 April, 2002, 22:17 GMT 23:17 UK
Hungarian leader concedes defeat
Socialist leader Peter Medgyessy (right) and party chairman Laszlo Kovacs (left) celebrate victory
The Socialists and their allies have won more than half the seats
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban has acknowledged defeat in a general election which looks set to return the centre-left to power.

According to preliminary unofficial results, the ruling conservative Fidesz party won close to 49% of the vote.


We were many but we were not enough

Prime Minister Viktor Orban
But since Fidesz has no coalition partners in the new parliament, this is not enough to form a majority government.

Instead, the opposition Socialists - who won 46% - are expected to form a coalition government with their allies.

Since the first round - when they took a surprise lead - the Socialists have struck an election pact with the small centre-left Liberal Alliance of Free Democrats.

The turnout on Sunday was slightly higher than the record 71% in the first round two weeks ago.

Congratulations

"We were many but we were not enough", Mr Orban told supporters at Fidesz party headquarters.

Unofficial results
Socialists 178 seats
Free Democrats 19 seats
Fidesz 188 seats
He said he had called the Socialist leader Peter Medgyessy to congratulate him on his victory.

Mr Medgyessy said talks would start on Monday on forming a coalition.

Fidesz had adopted the unusual strategy of calling its supporters on to the streets in a show of strength.

Nuns casting their votes in the general election
Turnout was slightly higher than in the first round
The Socialists and Liberals responded by holding smaller discussion meetings in cafes and public parks.

"We are the quiet majority, we are the quiet strength," Mr Medgyessy told his last campaign meeting on Friday.

Election pledges

While both parties have promised tax cuts and strong economic growth, the Socialist Party is also offering a 50% pay rise for health and education sector workers within the first 100 days.

It has also pledged to mend ties with central European neighbours irritated by Mr Orban's nationalist rhetoric.

Mr Orban, for his part, pledged full employment and a 100% increase in average wages within four years if his party was re-elected.

The second round of the election was a run-off to decide seats where there was no clear winner on 7 April.

In the first round, Fidesz won 87 of the 386 parliamentary seats, while the Socialists won 94 and the Liberals won four.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nick Thorpe
"The result was so close in some constituencies"
See also:

13 Apr 02 | Europe
Huge crowds back Hungarian right
08 Apr 02 | Europe
Socialists ahead in Hungary poll
05 Apr 02 | Europe
A guide to the Hungarian election
03 Mar 00 | Europe
Hungary tackles gypsies' problems
27 Feb 01 | Europe
Hungarian PM puts football first
08 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Hungary
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