Published: Mon, April 09, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Orban projected to hold majority in key Hungary vote

Orban projected to hold majority in key Hungary vote

Hungarians are voting Sunday in an election that is being keenly observed across Europe, and which will determine whether firebrand nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban wins an expected third consecutive term.

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.

"We are celebrating democracy and it seems like this feast will be handsome because many of us are taking part", said Gergely Karacsony, the leading candidate of the left-wing Socialist and Dialogue parties.

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.

Orban's election campaign focused on his staunch anti-migration policies despite opinion polls suggesting that many Hungarians are actually more anxious about other social concerns such as poverty, corruption and improving funding for the country's ailing health care system. Orban, Hungary's longest-serving post-communist premier, opposes deeper integration of the bloc.

A landslide win would make Orban feel vindicated in his decision to run a single-issue campaign, arguing that migration posed a big security threat.

Critics say Orban has put Hungary on an increasingly authoritarian path and his stance on immigration has fueled xenophobia.

After casting his vote in a wealthy district of Budapest, he said he would stand up for Hungary's interests and said Hungary was a loyal member of global organizations. "I am asking everyone to take part in the election".

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Winning another two-thirds majority would give Orban the chance to boost a new class of politically-connected oligarchs, tighten his grip on institutions such as the courts, and strengthen resistance against countries like France and Germany that are seeking to deepen European Union integration.

"Only a dramatic outcome of the election would force a significant shift in the direction of policymaking", Barclays said in a note.

"Hungarian democracy is strong", Gergely Gulyas, the parliament faction leader for Orban's Fidesz party.

Hungarian election officials say voter turnout in the country's parliamentary election 90 minutes before polls close has already exceeded the total turnout for the 2014 elections.

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

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland's governing PiS party, sees an Orban as an ally in his own run-ins with Brussels and gave Orban his endorsement on Friday.

In last elections of 2014, Orban's coalition Fidesz-KDNP won 133 seats, securing two thirds of the parliament, also known as a super majority. "This means either an overwhelming support for Orban or the end of Fidesz as (the) omnipotent political party in Hungary. The EU is in Berlin, in Budapest, in Prague and in Bucharest".

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