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Hungary

Hungarian Prime Minister Orban headed for re-election

Hungarians look set to return Prime Minister Viktor Orban to power for another four years. Sunday's parliamentary election is also expected to entrench the far-right Jobbik party as a third political force.

Orban leads Hungary poll

A survey run parallel to Sunday's Hungarian parliamentary election pointed on Sunday to re-election for Prime Minister Viktor Orban (pictured) and his Fidesz party.

The survey put it far ahead of Socialists, with the far-right Jobbik party trailing but poised to remain a sizeable force in parliament.

Voting ended officially at 7 p.m. local time (17:00 UTC), but some polling stations remained open to accommodate queues of voters. The first definitive official results were due later Sunday evening.

Survey: Fidesz leads

A phone survey of 1,200 people, commissioned by conservative-leaning think tank Nezopont, showed Orban's liberal-leaning Fidesz party with 48 percent support and the Socialist-led opposition alliance on 27 percent.

On 18 percent was Jobbik, which critics accused of being anti-Semitic and stoking - amid worries about far-right trends in European Parliament elections next month.

The opposition Socialist-led alliance had blamed its fortunes on problems in getting favorable media coverage and a corruption scandal.

Ninety minutes before the official close, turnout among the 8 million voters was put at 56.8 percent, slightly less than at the corresponding moment in 2010.

Maverick prime minister

Since his election in 2010, Orban's unorthodox economic policies and nationalist rhetoric led to repeated policy rows with the European Union and foreign investors.

Brussels and Washington had challenged the EU member state to uphold institutional balances seen as democratically necessary.

Critics accused Orban of using his previous parliamentary mandate to curb freedom of the media, allegations his government rejected.

Poverty rates are high in Hungary and a "workfare" scheme forces the unemployed to perform menial work in return for benefits.

ipj/dr (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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