Voting underway in Hungarian election


Godfather of European Populism Faces Judgment in Hungarian Vote

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. Voters will weigh Orban's popular anti-immigration stance and an economic upswing against an authoritarian tilt that's made him the black sheep of the European Union and a role model for anti-establishment parties from Italy to Poland. Orban, Hungary's longest-serving post-communist premier, strongly opposes deeper integration of the bloc.

According to the National Election Office, more than 3.3 million voters had taken part by 1pm, with a turnout rate of 42.3%. The overall Election Day turnout in 2014 was 61.7 percent. In central London, emigre Hungarians queued for hundreds of metres in the rain to vote, some waiting for more than two hours.

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.

"High turnout means, most probably, less mandates for Fidesz than in the previous term", said Peter Kreko, director of think tank Political Capital.

Opposition parties have urged Hungarians to vote tactically for the opposition candidate with the best chance to defeat the Fidesz candidate in the 106 individual districts - but it is not clear how much impact that will have.

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.

Meanwhile, Jobbik leader Gabor Vona cast his ballot in the northeastern town of Gyongyos, saying that the result would "determine the fate of Hungary not just for four years but. for two generations".

Orban is seeking his third consecutive term and fourth overall and his campaign has been almost exclusively about opposing migration. It has curbed the powers of the constitutional court, increased control of the media and appointed loyalists to key positions.

And in the past two years of being in office, many Hungarians have appreciated the country's growing economic stability under Fidesz.

"My little daughter must be my primary concern, to make her future safe".

Hungarians up and down the country have gone to the polls today to cast their ballot in the final hours of the 2018 election. She would not reveal her voting preference.

In March the government also gave pre-election handouts to millions of families and pensioners.

A poll by Zavecz research institute published on Friday showed Fidesz had 46 percent support among decided voters, while Jobbik had 19 percent. Voter turnout was estimated between 64 and 68 percent.

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.

However, one-third of voters remain undecided, and an upset is not being ruled out. Businessmen close to Fidesz have acquired stakes in major industries like banking, energy, construction, and tourism, profiting from European Union funds.

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