Monday, 20 August, 2018

Hungary's Orban expected to be returned on anti-immigrant platform

Hungary's Orban tipped for re-election but upset not ruled out Hungary's Orban tipped for re-election but upset not ruled out
Faye Gross | 09 April, 2018, 01:02

The National Electoral Commission of Hungary announced a record turnout at the parliamentary elections. 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. His critics said his stance has fueled xenophobia in Hungary.

"After Bavaria, Italy, the Czech and Austria have made it clear they are against immigration, now it is Hungary's turn", Orban told website Origo in an interview published on Sunday. 199 seats in the Hungarian parliament are up for grabs. Such an outcome would allow Orbán to pursue radical change, perhaps tightening his grip Hungary in the same vein as Poland.

Most opinion polls suggest Prime Minister Viktor Orban will win a third term. While some parties have agreed to withdraw candidates to avoid knocking each other out in key, winner-take-all battleground districts, the array of Fidesz opponents, which include a former far-right outfit, socialists and greens, are mostly fighting their own corners.

The victory could embolden Orban to put more muscle into a Central European alliance against the European Union's migration policies.

The election produced a turnout of around 70 percent, exceeding the past three elections.

A poll on Friday put Fidesz on 46% among decided voters, more than 20 points ahead of their nearest rivals Jobbik, on 19%.

But he's unlikely to repeat the landslide wins of the past two elections as a resurgent - if still divided - opposition has sought to capitalize on widespread claims of cronyism and intimidation.

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

"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 leader of Hungary's right-wing nationalist Jobbik party says he expects a "surprise" result in the parliamentary elections.

Over 3.3 million voters had taken part by 1 p.m. (1100 GMT), for a turnout rate of 42.3 percent six hours before the end of voting.

The PM and his wife Aniko Levai were pictured voting at a school in Budapest this morning, while Hungarian citizens in London were seen queuing in the rain to cast their ballots.

Heartened by a recent poll showing more Hungarians would prefer for Orban to go than to stay, the opposition has shifted its focus from coordination to get-out-the-vote campaigns. He claims the European Union, the U.N., Hungarian-American financier George Soros and the civic groups he sponsors are all conspiring to force Hungary to take in thousands of mainly Muslim migrants to weaken its independence and its Christian identity and culture. The EU is in Berlin, in Budapest, in Warsaw, in Prague and in Bucharest.

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

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