Published: Mon, April 09, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Hungarians vote in keenly-watched poll

Hungarians vote in keenly-watched poll

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

The government also points to Hungary's solid economic growth, which has brought steadily rising wages, and says this would be at risk in the event of an opposition victory. Despite being tipped to take two-thirds of the 199 parliamentary seats for a third time only months ago, ruling party officials have said that now appears out of reach.

Eve-of-vote polls suggest that Mr Orban is on track to win a third consecutive four-year term in office following a bitter campaign in which he demonised Middle Eastern migrants as "Muslim invaders".

"As long as the opposition is in a fragmented state. this migrant/refugee campaign is sufficient to keep (Orban's) voting base united, to keep it mobilized", said Balazs Bocskei, political analyst at the Idea Institute, a Budapest think-tank.

They are vowing to restore the democratic system of checks and balances, expand press freedom, join the European Public Prosecutor's Office to enhance anti-corruption efforts and allocate more funds to education, health care and fighting poverty.

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He said voter turnout would determine the outcome.

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

"We are convinced that high turnout definitely reflects. that people want a change in government", Socialist spokeswoman Bernadett Budai was quoted as saying by national news agency MTI.

"Migrants should not come here, and this (Fidesz') economic policy should continue", said Janos Dimovics, a pensioner who came from his village to see Orban. He refused to take part in the EU's refugee resettlement programme and he has praised Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

"Safety is first", said Julia Scharle, 27, holding her child outside the voting district where Orban cast his vote.

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Karacsony, who heads the joint list of the Socialist Party and the Dialogue party, also said President Janos Ader, a former lawmaker for Orban's Fidesz party, had "omitted a very serious task" by not calling for Hungarians to cast their ballots in the election.

Orban, who voted with his wife at a Budapest school near their home, told a crowd of reporters that he will "respect the decision" of the Hungarian voters.

Rebranding itself as a moderate "conservative people's party", its leader Gabor Vona has called for a change in government and railed against Mr Orban.

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 "that the European Union is not at Brussels".

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But he added that since all parties, including Fidesz, had mobilized intensively, it did not necessarily mean Orban was threatened with defeat. The EU is now in Berlin, in Budapest, in Warsaw, in Prague and at Bucharest.

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