Accessibility links

Breaking News

Orban Strong Favorite As Hungary Holds Elections

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban
Voters in Hungary have been casting ballots in a parliamentary election widely expected to result in another four-year term for Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his conservative Fidesz party.

Opinion polls ahead of the vote on April 6 left it unclear whether Orban would be able to retain the two-thirds majority of parliamentary seats that his Fidesz party won when Orban swept to power in 2010.

The two-thirds majority in parliament allows Fidesz to change Hungary's constitution without the help of another party.

Opinion polls conducted a week before the vote also suggest a close race for second place between Hungary's center-left opposition alliance, led by Socialist party chairman Attila Mesterhazy, and the far-right Jobbik party.

Some polls suggested Jobbik would be further entrenched as a political force. But others showed it trailing the center-left opposition by as much as six percent.

Jobbik's leader, Gabor Vona, said on April 6 that he was certain his party will "surprise" those pollsters with the support it receives in the poll.

"I'm sure that we will cause a surprise, at least that's my feeling," he said. "We managed to run a very honest and good campaign. We insisted on our principle of not getting involved in the mud-slinging and instead presented our program to lots of people. Our three main themes of living standards, order, and politicians' accountability struck a nerve with voters who are most adamant on those three things."

Unlike Hungary's last general election in 2010, when voters cast ballots in two rounds, this vote is a "first-past-the-post vote" in 106 constituencies.

That means who ever receives the most votes in each legislative district will win the election.

The number of lawmakers in Hungary's parliament is also being reduced from 386 seats to 199 seats.

Those changes were introduced in a new constitution that was pushed through by lawmakers in Orban's Fidesz party, despite objections from the opposition, after Fidesz won its two-thirds majority in 2010.

Orban has also asserted his influence over independent institutions in Hungary since the 2010 vote – drawing criticism from the European Union, the United States, and the United Nations.

Fidesz lawmakers ousted the chief justice of Hungary's Supreme Court and set up a media regulator led by ruling-party appointees.

Orban insists his reforms were necessary to fully eradicate the legacy of communism and to improve Hungary's economy.

But some voters have said they fear Orban is beginning to accumulate too much political power.

Orban has pledged to stick to his policies if reelected – continuing to cut energy prices and get rid of foreign currency mortgages that are proving to be a burden for Hungarian homeowners.

Polling stations were due to close at 7 p.m. local time, although reports said some polling stations remained open later to accomodate queues of voters.

The first official results were expected within a few hours of polls closing. There are no independent exit polls

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and dpa