Interim turnout at Hungary's election highest since 2002

Interim turnout at Hungary's election highest since 2002

"Hungarian democracy is strong", Gergely Gulyas, the parliament faction leader for Fidesz, said.

Opinion polls have consistently put Mr Orban and his right-wing Fidesz party 20 or more points clear of their nearest rivals, Jobbik, a far-right party which has been moving towards the centre, and the centre-left Socialists.

The alliance of the left-wing Socialist and Dialogue parties had 11.8 percent, meaning it would have 19 deputies in parliament.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's ruling Fidesz party has pointed to the high turnout as a sign that Hungarian democracy is healthy, but the increased turnout could give Orbán something to worry about: numerous voters waiting in line in Budapest were young, and young, city-dwelling Hungarians do not tend to support the prime minister.

Voting officially closed at 1700 GMT.

Numerous voting stations remained open after the 7:00 p.m. deadline to accommodate the long lines of people waiting to vote.

"Migrants should not come here, and this (Fidesz') economic policy should continue", said Janos Dimovics, a pensioner who came from his village to see Orban. But the fate of the 199 parliamentary seats at stake in the election is hard to predict because of the higher-than-expected turnout.

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

Hungarians up and down the country have gone to the polls today to cast their ballot in the final hours of the 2018 election.

Orban is favored to win a third consecutive mandate, with polls showing support for his Fidesz party roughly equal to the combined opposition.

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A high turnout in a 2002 vote consigned Orban to eight years of opposition.

"We love our country and we are fighting for our country", he said. Turnout in the 2014 vote was 61.7%. Opposition parties are keen to make sure Mr Orban's bloc does not sweep to a super-majority in which the autocratic leader could easily push through constitutional changes.

"Today will decide whether Hungary becomes an emigrant country or not - and I wouldn't like Hungary to be an emigrant country", Vona said.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz Party is enjoying wide support with its anti-immigration policy. That was the highest turnout figure at that time since at least 1998.

On Friday, at his closing campaign rally, Orban vowed to protect his nation from Muslim migrants, saying: "Migration is like rust that slowly but surely would consume Hungary".

According to the National Election Office, 2.35 million voters had cast ballots by 11am local time, or 29.93 percent of those eligible.

With 69% of the votes counted, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his party have taken an early lead Sunday in the parliamentary election, according to the country's National Election Office. "I am asking everyone to take part in the election".

Who are the opposition parties?

Rebranding itself as a moderate "conservative people's party", its leader Gabor Vona has called for a change in government and railed against Mr Orban.

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