Millions of Hungarians are taking to the polls to cast their ballots in parliamentary elections projected to grant the country’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban his third consecutive term.
Polling stations in Hungary opened at 6 am local time (0400 GMT) on Sunday and will close at 7 pm (1700 GMT), with some 8.3 million people eligible to vote across the Central European country.
Vying for 199 seats, Orban’s right-wing Fidesz Party has opinion poll leads of between 20 and 30 percentage points over its closest rival Jobbik, a far-right party, and the leftist Socialists.
The ruling party won two-third majorities in 2010 and 2014, passing a new constitution and paving the way for Orban to greatly concentrate his powers.
During his final campaign rally on Friday, Orban called on supporters to turn out en masse and said, “It’s not enough to be ahead in the polls, we have to come first on voting day too.”
“Don’t think that we already have this election in our pockets. Don’t believe what the pollsters say. We don’t have to win the polls, but the elections on Sunday,” he said.
Hungary’s incumbent is deemed a controversial figure among European Union leaders, having built his platform on a hard-line anti-immigration position. Orban proposed to construct a giant wall to stop the flow of refugees into Europe in 2016. The 54-year-old Hungarian leader has also described Muslim refugees as “invaders.”
Opposition candidates accuse Orban’s government of corruption and authoritarian measures.
Government supporters have, however, lauded Orban for rejuvenating the economy and stabilizing the national budget deficit after eight years of socialist rule.
The early results of the Hungarian parliamentary elections are expected to be released late on Sunday.
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