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Hungary's 'revolutionary' Orban sworn in as premier

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Fresh from a landslide election win in April, Hungary's powerful premier Viktor Orban was formally sworn in as prime minister Saturday, and hailed his controversial reforms as revolutionary.

"Since coming to power (in 2010), a revolution has happened in Hungary," Orban told several thousand supporters at a celebration rally afterwards outside the parliament building in Budapest.

"Not on streets or squares, or with swords, but in people's hearts and minds, the post-communist period is now closed," he said to cheers.

On April 6 Orban's right-wing Fidesz party won its second two-thirds majority in a row, granting it further legislative carte blanche to amend the constitution and fast-track new laws.

During his previous term Orban used the supermajority to write a new constitution and launch a legislative blitz that opponents said tightened his control over democratic institutions and restricted checks and balances.

Critics including the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe said new election rules brought in by Orban tilted the vote in his favour, but an appeal by one opposition party challenging the result was thrown out by the Supreme Court.

After taking the oath of office the 50-year-old premier told deputies in the ornate 199-seat parliament that the election result reinforced the changes implemented since 2010.

Despite the two-thirds majority, Orban, who served a first term as prime minister between 1998 and 2002, said his new government will always "represent three-thirds, in other words every Hungarian".

Outside, Zoltan Koves, an Orban supporter in the crowd holding a banner reading "Keep going Viktor!" told AFP he hoped Orban would be around "for many years to come".

"He's the only one capable of fixing the problems left behind by the Socialists (who governed for eight years before Orban)," he said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140510/hungarys-revolutionary-orban-sworn-premier