Voting underway in Hungarian election

"Figures show that it will be an election with a high voter turnout".

A young woman queuing up to vote in Budapest said she is hoping for a breath of change after the election, but did not reveal who she was voting for.

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.

Polls agree on the eventual triumph of Orban's right-wing nationalist Fidesz party and its allied Christian Democrats in Sunday's national vote, but opposition leaders were encouraged by a high early turnout.

Turnout at 6:30 p.m. - half an hour before official closing time - stood at 68.13 percent. In contrast, the turnout was only 61.7 percent in the last election, in 2014, which gave him a massive victory.

Pollsters think a high turnout could benefit the opposition.

Boros said in a tweet: "The Hungarian political landscape will dramatically change today". Voters were not allowed to join queues at polling stations after 1700 GMT, but some polling stations stayed open to allow those already in line to cast their ballots. The opposition Socialist Party urged authorities to "at least distribute water" in districts where voters were waiting in line, sometimes for hours.

While Fidesz is expected to win a parliamentary majority, analysts are watching to see if Mr Orban's party can regain the "supermajority" it once held.

Vona said: "I feel a surprise and a Jobbik breakthrough can be expected in the election".

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People wait in line to vote during Hungarian parliamentary elections at a polling station in Budapest, Hungary April 8, 2018.

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

In the past few years, Vona, who has been party chairman since 2006, has pushed the party to abandon its frequently anti-Roma and anti-Semitic views and toward more a mainstream conservative direction.

Karacsony, who heads the joint list of the Socialist Party and the Dialogue party, also said President Janos Ader, a former lawmaker for Orban's Fidesz party, had "omitted a very serious task" by not calling for Hungarians to cast their ballots in the election.

Orban, who voted with his wife at a Budapest school near their home, told a crowd of reporters that he will "respect the decision" of the Hungarian voters.

Voting will end on Sunday evening.

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.

Although Orban's actions, including refusing to participate in the EU's refugee resettlement scheme, have sometimes annoyed other European governments, Fidesz is afforded a measure of protection by virtue of its membership of the main centre-right EPP grouping in the European Parliament. "The European Union does not mean Brussels, it means the European capitals together".

  • Sonia Alvarado