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Orban nearly certain of fourth term as Hungary votes

09 April 2018

Hungarians are deciding whether to give Prime Minister Viktor Orban another four-year term in parliamentary elections, where he's facing a resurgent opposition that's hoping to unseat the poster child of Europe's populist movement.

Orban is seeking his fourth term.

Polls agree on the triumph of Mr Orban's right-wing nationalist Fidesz party and its allied Christian Democrats, but a splintered opposition and Hungary's complex electoral system make the margin of victory hard to predict.

Parliamentary faction leader Gergely Gulyas said Sunday after polls closed that Hungary would have a "strong, legitimate parliament".

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.

Some pollsters said voter turnout above 70 percent could signal that the opposition was mobilizing supporters efficiently, and might even deprive Fidesz of its parliamentary majority.

"Only a dramatic outcome of the election would force a significant shift in the direction of policymaking", Barclays said in a note. Hungary's National Election Office reports 13.17 percent of eligible voters had cast ballots by 9 a.m. (0700GMT).

This is the two-thirds control of the 199-seat legislature that allowed Fidesz to pass controversial laws putting pressure on the judiciary and the press.

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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.

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.

Speaking at a recent campaign rally, Orban accused the European Union of "trying to take away our country".

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".

If Orban wins again, he is expected to continue his economic policies, with income tax cuts and incentives to boost growth.

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.

Orban and his wife Aniko Levai voted at a polling station in a school in a Budapest suburb.

And if migrants settle in Hungary, Orban claims Hungary's economic development will end, its support for rural areas will dwindle, women and girls will be "hunted down" and Budapest, the capital, will become "unrecognizable".

Orban nearly certain of fourth term as Hungary votes