Polling stations open for Hungary’s parliamentary elections

Budapest, Apr 3 (EFE).- More than 10,000 polling stations have opened in Hungary for legislative elections, in which some 8.2 million voters will decide whether Viktor Orban will continue as prime minister.

Hungarians are also called to participate in a referendum on a controversial law criticized as homophobic both inside and outside the country.

Each voter will be eligible to cast three ballots on Sunday.

One vote goes to the party list and one to a constituency candidate. 106 of the Hungarian parliament’s 199 seats are single-member constituencies decided by first-past-the-post voting while the remaining 93 seats are decided proportionally by votes from national lists.

The third vote is for the referendum.

The latest polls place ultra-nationalist Viktor Orban’s party, Fidesz, and the United for Hungary coalition, which brings together six opposition parties, from the radical left to the right, neck to neck on 47 percent each.

That tie does not include the votes of Hungarians living abroad, which usually benefits Orban.

The outcome of the elections may be determined by the undecided voters, who in an environment of uncertainty due to the war in neighboring Ukraine, are likely to bet on continuity.

Polls predict that no other party will pass the 5 percent threshold of votes needed to make it into the parliament.

Just over 8.2 million Hungarians are eligible to vote, including 7.7 million in the country and 450,000 abroad.

Hungarians will also cast their votes on a referendum on a law that the government promoted as a defense of minors but that critics say links homosexuality with pedophilia.

Fidesz initially framed the legislation proposal as a means to protect minors from abuse but added last-minute clauses that would ban educative content on LGBT matters from being shared with anyone under 18, including in schools and in the media.

The approval of the law prompted the European Union to start infringement proceedings against Hungary, considering the law to be homophobic, discriminatory and a breach of community values.

The referendum on the law contains four questions that European officials have branded ambiguous and are worded in a way that makes it difficult for many Hungarians to oppose the law.

They are: Do you support the teaching of sexual orientation to minors in public education institutions without parental consent? Do you support the promotion of sex reassignment therapy for underage children? Do you support the unrestricted exposure of underage children to sexually explicit media content that may affect their development? Do you support the showing of sex-change media content to minors?

The government, which has asked Hungarians to answer no to everything, says it only wants to defend minors from what it sees as an EU attempt to spread ideas about sex change or sexuality in schools.

For the referendum to be valid, a minimum 50 percent participation is required, although its invalidity does not mean that the law – already in force – is no longer implemented.

The polling stations will be open until 7 pm after which the counting of votes will begin. EFE


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