Turnout high in Hungary as Orban fights to retain power

Prime Minister Viktor Orban at his final electoral rally in Hungary

While Fidesz led all opinion polls before the vote, there is a small chance that the fragmented opposition could strip Fidesz of its parliamentary majority if voters frustrated with Orban's policies choose tactical voting in the 106 constituencies.

Though Orban has campaigned heavily on anti-migration policies, voters are more concerned with government corruption, poverty, and the country's health care system.

A hardliner on immigration in Europe, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, is expected to win his third consecutive term in an election Sunday.

Hungary's National Election Office reports 13.17 percent of eligible voters had cast ballots by 9 a.m. (0700GMT).

Some 8 million voters cast their votes in more than 10,000 polling stations from 6 am (0400 GMT) local time until 7 pm (1700 GMT).

Early in the day, voter turnout was the highest since 1998. The opposition Socialist Party urged authorities to "at least distribute water" in districts where voters were waiting in line for hours.

'We are celebrating democracy and it seems like this feast will be handsome because many of us are taking part, ' said Gergely Karacsony, the leading candidate of the left-wing Socialist and Dialogue parties.

Analysts, however, were more cautious about the significance of the turnout.

But he added that since all parties, including Fidesz, had mobilised intensively, it did not necessarily mean Orban was threatened with defeat. "The Hungarian political landscape will dramatically change today".

The National Election Office initially said it did not intend to disclose any results while voters were still waiting outside polling stations.

The strongest opposition party is the formerly far-right Jobbik, which has recast its image as a more moderate nationalist force.

Clad in a green jacket and white shirt, Jobbik leader Gabor Vona, 39, arrived to vote in the eastern city of Gyongyos, his home town and the district where he is likely to win a seat. 'This is when all those who want a change of government. ask all those who have yet to vote to by all means go and vote'.

Mr Orban refused to publicly debate with his opponents during the campaign or speak to the independent media, speaking instead at rallies for his supporters.

The opposition denies Orban's accusations.

Gabor Vona of the Jobbik party said the question was not about migration but about the large number of Hungarians who were leaving the country and heading to Western Europe in search of higher wages and better prospects.

"Even if the majority of my countrymen decides to head towards Asia, I will still live as a Hungarian in Europe - worst case scenario I will reluctantly change my country of residence".

Uncertainties about Mr Orban's margin of victory are caused by Hungary's electoral system in which voters cast two ballots, one for an individual candidate in their region and another for a party list.

A woman said she didn't vote for the ruling party.

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