Hungary's president has set April 3 as the date for the Central European country's next general elections, expected to be a tough test for Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his right-wing government.
"I announce the date (for the parliamentary) election as April 3," President Janos Ader said in a statement posted on his website.
Orban, a nationalist who has been in power since 2010, faces a challenge to his rule with multiple opposition parties agreeing to unite behind one candidate for the first time.
Recent polls suggest a close race against the coalition's candidate for prime minister, Peter Marki-Zay.
Orban's critics say his ruling Fidesz party has dismantled democratic institutions in Hungary, while trashing judicial independence and controlling the media.
He has also stepped up an anti-LGBT campaign as part of an ongoing drive to depict itself as the guardian of Christian values against Western liberalism that also includes a hard-line anti-immigration policy.