Hungary's future at stake in general elections: Orban

Glen Norman
April 9, 2018

Elected with a two-thirds majority in 2010, Orban unleashed a legislative whirlwind, including a new constitution steeped in patriotic and conservative values, while watering down the constitutional court's powers. Opposition parties are keen to make sure that Orban's bloc does not sweep to a super-majority in which the autocratic leader could easily push through constitutional changes.

"We love our country and we are fighting for our country". Analysts say a high turnout favors the opposition, especially Jobbik.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's ruling Fidesz party has pointed to the high turnout as a sign that Hungarian democracy is healthy, but the increased turnout could give Orbán something to worry about: numerous voters waiting in line in Budapest were young, and young, city-dwelling Hungarians do not tend to support the prime minister.

The National Electoral Commission of Hungary announced a record turnout at the parliamentary elections.

Long lines of voters were reported also at the Hungarian embassies in London and Paris. According to the National Election Office, 13.17 percent of eligible voters had cast ballots by 9 a.m. (0700GMT), while in 2006 turnout was 11.39 percent at the same hour. 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. "This means either an overwhelming support for Orban or the end of Fidesz as (the) omnipotent political party in Hungary".

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. "This is when all those who want a change of government ... ask all those who have yet to vote to by all means go and vote".

"The election will determine whether Hungary consolidates itself as a democracy or whether it aligns with Putin and the ascendant authoritarians of the 21st century", said Michael Ignatieff, the president and rector of Budapest's Central European University, an institution backed by George Soros that Orban has repeatedly threatened.

"After Bavaria, Italy, the Czech and Austria have made it clear they are against immigration, now it is Hungary's turn", he told website Origo.

Orban accuses Soros and the organisations he funds of promoting mass Muslim and African immigration into Europe to undermine its Christian identity. It has been campaigning on an anti-corruption agenda and urged higher wages to lure back hundreds of thousands of Hungarians who have left Hungary for western Europe.

Hungary, where there are more than eight million registered voters, takes to the ballot box every four years to decide on the 199 seats in the country's parliament.

It is known that about 8.3 million people have the right to vote in the elections in Hungary.

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