Hungarians expected to grant third term to nationalist PM Orban in election

09 April, 2018, 01:46 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban attends the last campaign event of his Fidesz party in the town of Szekesfehervar

BUDAPEST, Hungary-Long lines of Hungarian voters stretched for blocks Sunday outside polling stations in Budapest, with some waiting for two to three hours to cast their ballots as Prime Minister Viktor Orban sought a fourth term on a platform that demonized migrants.

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

Orban's main challengers are Gabor Vona's nationalist Jobbik party and a left-wing alliance of the Socialist and Dialogue parties led by Gergely Karacsony.

As of a 8:45 p.m., most polling places had been closed, but one Budapest location still had 2,500 people waiting in line, according to Hungary's National Election Office. In Hodmezovasarhely, a Fidesz stronghold in southeastern Hungary, voters complaining of graft, cronyism, and intimidation elected an independent in a February mayoral election for the first time in two decades.

The autocratic Orban has campaigned heavily on his unyielding anti-migration policies, though voters say they are more concerned with poverty, growing government corruption and the country's underfunded health care system. Orban, Hungary's longest-serving post-communist premier, opposes deeper integration of the bloc and - teaming up with Poland - has been a fierce critique of Brussels' policies.

Orban has far-right admirers across Europe who like his tough line on migrants and his smooth victory shows that his single-issue campaign, arguing that migration poses a security threat, had paid off.

"Theoretically everything is still possible as we don't know the data yet. but in Hungary a two-thirds victory is possible if neither side loses more than 10 districts and there is a difference of at least 20 percent between the victor and the runner-up", Gulyas said.

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Asked by journalists if he was fighting the European Union, Orban said: "The EU is not in Brussels".

Firebrand Prime Minister Orban has clashed repeatedly with other European Union leaders during his last term, especially with regard to the bloc's response to the refugee influx across Europe in 2015 and 2016. "Alongside high voter turnout, the country will have a strong, legitimate parliament".

Some analysts say Fidesz's support could be the strongest in small towns and villages.

Voting will end on Sunday evening.

The anti-immigrant campaign has gone down well with numerous roughly two million core voters of Fidesz.

There is also a slight chance that the fragmented opposition could strip Fidesz of its parliament majority if voters frustrated with Orban's policies choose tactical voting in the 106 constituencies. "The EU is in Berlin, in Budapest, in Prague and in Bucharest".

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.

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