Voting underway in Hungarian election

09 April, 2018, 01:03 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban attends the last campaign event of his Fidesz party in the town of Szekesfehervar

Hungary started general elections on Sunday to elect a 199-seat parliament, which could make the current Prime Minister Viktor Orban succeed in a third straight term.

After an acrimonious campaign in which Orban projected himself as a savior of Hungary's Christian culture against Muslim migration into Europe, all opinion polls put his Fidesz party well ahead.

Even if Prime Minister Orbans' Fidesz party does gain its expected majority, analysts remain uncertain on whether it will manage to achieve the two-thirds "supermajority" it had since the previous elections, which enabled it to pass some of its controversial bills.

Voter turnout in the first hours of voting in Hungary's election is the highest since 1998.

Analysts say a high turnout favors the opposition, especially Jobbik.

He said voter turnout would determine the outcome.

But as Chairman of the Party, Vona has gradually brought Jobbik into the mainstream in the hope of widening its political base.

Karacsony, who heads the joint list of the Socialist Party and the Dialogue party, also said President Janos Ader, a former lawmaker for Orban's Fidesz party, had "omitted a very serious task" by not calling for Hungarians to cast their ballots in the election.

A high turnout in a 2002 vote consigned Orban to eight years of opposition.

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Opposition parties have not coordinated this closely on a national level, but tactical voting could nevertheless represent a danger to Fidesz in 30-40 "swing seats".

Mr Orban's anti-immigration stance and criticism of "meddling Brussels bureaucrats" have gained him admirers not just in nearby Poland but also among ultra-nationalists in western Europe and beyond.

Orban's sometimes lurid rhetoric against immigrants resulted in February in a spat between the government and the UN's top human rights official, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, who accused Orban of xenophobia and racism.

Orban and his wife Aniko Levai voted at a polling station in a school in a Budapest suburb.

Clad in a green jacket and white shirt, Jobbik leader Gabor Vona, 39, arrived to vote in the eastern city of Gyongyos, his home town and the district where he is likely to win a seat.

On Friday, at his closing campaign rally, he vowed to protect his nation from Muslim migrants, saying: "Migration is like rust that slowly but surely would consume Hungary".

"Today the freedom, sovereignty and dignity of nations, for you and for us Poles, is tied to Viktor Orban", he said.

Tamas Boros of the Policy Solutions think-tank says the high voter figures mean either "overwhelming support" for Prime Minister Viktor Orban's severe anti-migrant policies or the end of his populist, right-wing Fidesz party's omnipotence.

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