Hungary's future at stake in general elections: Orban

Hugh Fox
April 9, 2018

Hungary ruling Fidesz party is unlikely to win a two-thirds parliamentary majority, Fidesz's parliamentary group leader Gergely Gulyas told private broadcaster ATV after Sunday's election produced a higher-than-expected turnout.

Analysts say his policies could have a long-lasting impact on the European Union.

He reiterated he would stand up for Hungary's interests and said Hungary was a loyal member of worldwide organizations.

The National Electoral Commission of Hungary announced a record turnout at the parliamentary elections. Orban is due to speak soon, deputy prime minister Zsolt Semjen said.

Hungary's complex electoral system makes the outcome of the election hard to predict, though pollsters agree that Orban's Fidesz party, along with its allied Christian Democratic People's Party (KDNP), will likely triumph over a splintered opposition.

Gabor Vona of the nationalist Jobbik party urged his supporters not to become complacent.

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Mr Vona said the question is not about migration but the large number of Hungarians leaving the country and heading to western Europe in search of higher wages and better prospects. "Emigration may or may not define Hungary, and I would prefer that it does not".

The EU has struggled to respond as Orban's government has used its two landslide victories in 2010 and 2014 to erode democratic checks and balances, by curbing the powers of the constitutional court, controlling the media, and appointing loyalists to key positions.

Orban is credited with keeping the budget deficit under control, reducing unemployment and some of Hungary's debt, and putting its economy on a growth track.

On Friday, at his closing campaign rally, Orban vowed to protect his nation from Muslim migrants.

Tamas Boros of the Policy Solutions think-tank says the high voter figures mean either "overwhelming support" for Prime Minister Viktor Orban's severe anti-migrant policies or the end of his populist, right-wing Fidesz party's omnipotence.

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

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In March the government gave pre-election handouts to millions of families and pensioners. The Socialists came in third with 14 percent.

However, the polls could be unreliable as one-third of voters are undecided and many hide their voting preference. That was the highest turnout at that hour since at least 1998.

Even if Prime Minister Orbans' Fidesz party does gain its expected majority, analysts remain uncertain on whether it will manage to achieve the two-thirds "supermajority" it had since the previous elections, which enabled it to pass some of its controversial bills.

If borne out, Mr Orban will likely seize on the results as vindication of his clashes with European Union institutions over his hardline anti-immigration policies and rejection of the EU's refugee resettlement programme, as well as his moves to clamp down on civil society groups.

His business allies are also expected to expand their economic domains.

"Only a dramatic outcome of the election would force a significant shift in the direction of policymaking", Barclays said in a note.

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