Turnout high in Hungary's election as Orban fights to retain power

09 April, 2018, 01:01 | Author: Edward Snyder
  • Turnout high in Hungary's election as Orban fights to retain power

"It's not enough to be ahead in the polls, we have to come first on voting day too", he said, recalling his party's loss in a 2002 election, at the end of his first term as prime minister, despite having been considered the favourites beforehand.

He has transformed Fidesz from a liberal party formed in the 1980s to a right-wing populist outfit, which has campaigned this election on an anti-immigration platform.

The strongest opposition party is the formerly far-right Jobbik, which has recast its image as a more moderate nationalist force.

During a bruising election campaign Mr Orban, 54, has stepped up his long-running attacks on the Hungarian-born Mr Soros, which have included media blitzes called xenophobic and anti-Semitic by critics. Opposition parties are keen to make sure Mr Orban's bloc does not sweep to a super-majority in which the autocratic leader could easily push through constitutional changes.

According to preliminary results with 85 percent of votes counted, National Election Office data projected Fidesz to win 133 seats, a two-thirds majority in the 199-seat parliament.

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

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.

A man in the capital, Budapest, said he hopes the ruling party will win.




"We love our country and we are fighting for our country", he said.

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

Opposition parties have lacked close coordination on a national level, but tactical voting could nevertheless represent a danger to Fidesz in 30-40 "swing seats".

Orban himself voted early on Sunday morning with his wife at a school in the leafy Zugliget suburb of Budapest.

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.

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

"Unfortunately, for those on the right who are disappointed with Orban, there is no democratic conservative alternative like Germany's CDU or a French Macron-type party", said Paul Lendvai, a journalist and author of "Orban: Hungary's Strongman".

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

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