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Hungarians, Poles March To Back Hungary's Nationalist Prime Minister Before Vote


Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addresses a crowd in Budapest on March 15.

Tens of thousands of supporters of Hungary's right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban marched on March 15 to back his bid for a third term in office in April 8 elections.

They were joined by thousands of supporters of Poland's ruling conservative PiS party, which, like Orban's Fidesz party, is at odds with the European Union over migration and moves to tighten controls over courts and media.

Organizers had brought the Poles, as well as Hungarians from the countryside, into the capital in fleets of buses for the march that coincided with Hungary's national holiday commemorating its 1848 revolution.

Orban and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki lead conservative governments under fire from Brussels over their refusal to take in migrants under a quota system.

Orban's stance has helped shore up support for Fidesz among voters, but it has drawn accusations of racism from the United Nations' human rights chief.

Fidesz, in power since 2010, suffered an unexpected defeat at a recent municipal by-election.

Supporters of both parties walked across a bridge spanning the Danube River in Budapest carrying banners with the slogans "Hungary protects Europe" and "We are with you, Viktor."

Orban told the rally that enemies "want to take our country away from us."

He repeated his key campaign slogans, attacking international NGOs and U.S. billionaire philanthropist George Soros -- whom he accuses of meddling in Hungarian politics -- as well as his vehement opposition to immigration.

"They want others to live in this country," he told the crowd, presenting himself as the defender of "millions with national feeling" against the "globalist elite."

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa
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