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Huge election turnout forces Hungarians to queue past voting station closing times

From CBC - April 8, 2018

Many polling places around Hungary remained open after their expected closing time to accommodate people waiting in long lines to vote Sunday after the country's parliamentary election received a larger than expected turnout.

Ballots were being tallied in the election stations that closed on time, but officials said no results would be announced until after everyone in line by the scheduled 7 p.m. local time deadline had been able to vote and all polling sites were shut.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is seeking a fourth term on a platform that openly demonizes migrants to Europe.

Predictions over whether Orban's message resonated with voters were complicated by the exceptionally high turnout, last-minute deals between some of left-wing opposition parties and a complex electoral system that allows citizens to cast two votes.

Hungary's National Election Office reported that over 5.3 million of the 8.3 million eligible voters had cast ballots by 6:30 p.m. (11:30 ET), for a turnout of 68.1 per cent. Some officials said the final participation figure could be the highest since Hungary returned to democracy in 1990.

Preliminary results were expected after 11 p.m. (5:00 ET) Sunday night. In all, 199 seats in parliament were up for grabs.

Opposition parties were keen to make sure Orban's bloc does not obtain a super-majority that would allow the autocratic leader to more easily push through constitutional changes, continue his crackdown on civic groups that he claims work against Hungarian interests and further strengthen his grasp on the highly centralized state power structure.

Orban has campaigned heavily on his unyielding anti-migration policies. He claims that the opposition is collaborating with the United Nations, the European Union and wealthy philanthropist George Soros to turn Hungary into an "immigrant country," threatening its security and Christian identity.

'Hungarian democracy is strong'

Voters, though, said they were more concerned with poverty, growing government corruption and the country's underfunded health care system.

Long lines of voters were reported at the Hungarian embassies in London and Paris.

Today will decide whether Hungary becomes an emigrant country or not.- GaborVona, member of Jobbiknationalist party

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