Hungarians have begun voting in the country’s parliamentary elections, which are likely to bring another victory for the ruling right-wing Fidesz party.
Voting stations opened at 6:00 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) on Sunday and are due to close at 7:00 p.m. local time (1700 GMT), with exit polls expected soon afterwards.
The National Election Office announced that by 0700 GMT some 9.5 percent of voters had cast ballots, showing a decrease in turnout when compared with the same time in the Eastern European country’s most previous elections.
According to recent polls, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban is expected to win between 46 and 51 percent of the vote in Sunday’s elections after four years in office.
The center-left opposition coalition is also facing a close race for second place with Hungary’s second largest party, the patriotic Jobbik party, as the coalition, composed of five leftist and centrist parties, is trailing on 21-31 percent and Jobbik close behind on 15-21 percent.
The premier said he hopes for a heavy turnout in the parliamentary elections, “so that no matter what kind of government there will be, it will be able to start its job with large popular support.”
Meanwhile, polls indicate that Orban’s Fidesz party could even retain the two-thirds majority it secured in the parliament in 2010.
The prime minister has pushed through a series of reforms over the past four years, including passing a new constitution and adopting uncontroversial economic policies. However, he has had repeated rows with the European Union (EU) over what he considers Hungary’s national interests.
Orban enjoys huge popularity among many voters for cutting bills and stabilizing public finances, but critics say he has restricted the freedom of media and other democratic institutions.
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