Hungary to Vote in April on Extending Orban’s Rule, EU Fight
(Bloomberg) -- Hungarians will go to the polls on April 3 to decide whether Viktor Orban should win a fourth consecutive term as prime minister, prolonging his running battle with the European Union over democratic values.
The ballot, announced by President Janos Ader on Tuesday, is the biggest challenge Orban has faced since 2010, when he regained the premiership and embarked on policies that attacked minorities, undercut democratic checks and balances and inspired other populists.
Most surveys give Orban’s Fidesz a slim advantage over a six-party alliance, the biggest opposition bloc ever assembled against him in a general election. That means Orban may lose the two-thirds parliamentary supermajority he secured in the last three ballots.
Those victories have enabled him to change laws, including the constitution, without opposition support. During his tenure, the EU has launched unprecedented probes into the erosion of democratic norms in Hungary and has delayed billions of euros in aid over graft concerns.
Opposition voters picked Peter Marki-Zay, a conservative provincial mayor, as their candidate for the premiership. He has vowed to roll back steps used by the prime minister to consolidate power, which have included overhauling the constitution, stacking institutions with party loyalists and passing rules that make it hard to oust top officials.
Orban, currently the longest-serving head of government in the EU, has pledged to continue with his policies that have roiled relations with the bloc. Steps included flouting an EU top court ruling against a practice of expelling asylum seekers without due process and a law banning the depiction of homosexuality to minors.
President Ader, a former Fidesz member, also scheduled a government-initiated referendum relating to the LGBTQ law for the same day as the elections. That may rally Orban’s base to show up on voting day.
Referendum questions include whether people agree with schools presenting information on sexual orientation to students or with “popularizing gender change treatments to minors.”
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