Hungarians will go to the polls on April 3 to elect a new parliament, President János Áder said on Tuesday, creating a likely showdown between Viktor Orbán’s ruling party, the long-ruling party, and a now unified opposition.
The closely watched race, which comes at a time when Budapest is locked in multiple disputes with Brussels over rule of law standards, is expected to define whether Hungary will return to the European mainstream or move even closer to Moscow and Beijing .
Orbán and his party are set to face a coalition of six opposition parties that have chosen conservative politician Péter Márki-Zay as their common candidate for prime minister.
In recent months, some polls have Fidesz and the opposition alliance neck and neck, although the opposition appeared to be losing ground at the end of 2021.
The opposition alliance, which ranges from liberal groups to the right-wing Jobbik party, faces a range of challenges, from internal divisions to a level playing field over media access and funding.
Nonetheless, opposition leaders have vowed to put their differences aside in an attempt to defeat Orbán, who has been accused of undermining democratic standards and independent institutions in Hungary.
NATIONAL PARLIAMENT OF HUNGARY ELECTORAL SURVEY
For more survey data from across Europe, visit POLITICS Poll polls.
On the same day as the elections, Hungarians will also vote in a controversial government-initiated referendum on LGBTQ + rights. The move follows the approval last year of legal changes restricting the representation of LGBTQ + identities for people under the age of 18, sparking widespread outrage across Europe.
On Tuesday evening, a group of 10 Hungarian human rights groups issued a statement calling on the public to vote as invalid in the referendum, claiming that the questions it asks – covering topics such as “promotion Of gender reassignment treatment for minors – are heinous. Their objective is to invalidate the referendum by keeping the number of valid votes cast below a minimum threshold required.
Ahead of the elections, the Hungarian government announced an increase in wages for participants in public works programs, an increase in pension payments, a freeze on retail mortgage interest rates and an increase in the minimum wage. The opposition, meanwhile, criticized Orbán’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and sought to emphasize his anti-corruption credentials.