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Hungarian parliamentary election to take place on Sunday

Viktor Orbán’s party has dominated the Hungarian political landscape for 12 years. Sunday’s elections might be the biggest challenge to Fidesz in over a decade.

The upcoming parliamentary elections in Hungary, which are to be held on Sunday, April 3, will decide whether the 12-year rule of the conservative Fidesz party, led by PM Viktor Orbán will continue for another four years or not.

Politico’s Poll-of-Polls indicates that Fidesz can expect 50 percent of the vote while the United Opposition, officially known as United for Hungary, led by the mayor of Hódmezővásárhely, Péter Márki-Zay, will garner 45 percent of the vote.

In the 2018 elections, 49 percent of the vote secured Fidesz a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, Hungary’s unicameral parliament. However, the situation in the upcoming elections is not so clear. The electoral system has previously worked to the advantage of Fidesz against a disunited opposition. In these elections, all political opposition, left-wing, centrist, liberal, and even the far-right nationalist party Jobbik, which has toned down its narrative, have come together to challenge Orbán’s hold on power.

PM Orbán himself had admitted that “the stakes in this election are, even for an old warhorse such as myself, much higher than I could have ever imagined.” What adds to the uncertainty is that some 20 percent of the voters are undecided, consequently, their opinion has not been factored into the polls. At least some of them will go to cast the ballot, and their last-minute decision may swing the election.

The Fidesz government stands for Christian family values and opposes what they have termed “gender madness”. Viktor Orbán is commonly considered a thorn in the side of European Union leaders for his continued opposition to Brussels’ attempts to impose left-wing and liberal values on society. Last year, the government passed a law that would limit the exposure of school children to topics regarding sexual orientation and identity, a move that has been portrayed by western media and politicians as a measure targeting sexual minorities. In the face of that, the Hungarian parliament voted unanimously to put the matter to a national referendum, scheduled on the same day as parliamentary elections.

In recent weeks the Fidesz government has faced increasing criticism from the EU, its NATO allies, and other members of the V4 regional alliance, including its traditional ally, Poland with its United Right government, over its lacklustre opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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The United Opposition had seized the opportunity to criticise Orbán for this, adding it to a long list of grievances. The Prime Minister has in turn responded by saying that his party’s victory will ensure that Hungary stays safe, while the current opposition will bring Hungary into the war.

Hungarian electoral system
The Hungarian electoral system mixes first-past-the-post single-member constituencies which number 106 and national party lists, where the 93 seats are allocated proportionally and distributed according to the d’Hondt method, which favours larger parties. The electoral threshold is 5 percent (higher for joint-party lists), but with provisions that eliminate the threshold and lower the number of required votes for members of ethnic and national minorities.

This makes predicting the outcome based on national support for the parties unreliable, as single-member constituencies elected using the first-past-the-post method can be heavily affected by the geographic distribution of voter support

Running against a number of smaller parties enabled Fidesz to earn a landslide victory in 2018 (as it did in 2014). But against a united coalition of opponents, Fidesz is facing the real possibility of losing the elections if the geographic distribution of voters works against them. If they do secure a majority, it will in all likelihood be a slim one.

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