Hungary votes, expected to grant third term to nationalist PM Orban

The Latest: Orban says election is about 'Hungary's future'

Orban came to power in 2010 and is seeking a third consecutive term.

"We love our country and we are fighting for our country".

Around 7.9 million Hungarians are eligible to vote and turnout figures will be closely watched for any clues of a possible upset.

Predictions on 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.

The leader of Hungary's right-wing nationalist Jobbik party says he expects a "surprise" result in the parliamentary elections.

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

"This is one of the most unpredictable elections", said Attila Juhasz, an analyst at Political Capital in Budapest.

"We are celebrating democracy and it seems like this feast will be attractive because many of us are taking part", said Gergely Karacsony, the leading candidate of the left-wing Socialist and Dialogue parties. "This means either an overwhelming support for Orban or the end of Fidesz as (the) omnipotent political party in Hungary".

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The National Election Office initially said it did not intend to disclose any results while voters were still waiting outside polling stations.

Clad in a green jacket and white shirt, Jobbik leader Gabor Vona, 39, arrived to vote in the eastern city of Gyongyos, his home town and the district where he is likely to win a seat.

"The election will determine whether Hungary consolidates itself as a democracy or whether it aligns with Putin and the ascendant authoritarians of the 21st century", said Michael Ignatieff, the president and rector of Budapest's Central European University, an institution backed by George Soros that Orban has repeatedly threatened.

Government influence on the media was palpable in Sunday's broadcast by state television M1 news channel, where reports highlighting the negative effects of migration dominated the programming.

"After Bavaria, Italy, the Czech and Austria have made it clear they are against immigration, now it is Hungary's turn", he told website Origo.

If borne out, Mr Orban will likely seize on the results as vindication of his clashes with European Union institutions over his hardline anti-immigration policies and rejection of the EU's refugee resettlement programme, as well as his moves to clamp down on civil society groups.

"My country is very important to me, and I choose it first, but I feel it's important to keep Europe as an entity", he said. Vona said the question was not about migration into Hungary but about the large number of Hungarians who were leaving the country and heading to Western Europe in search of higher wages and better prospects. Another 93 seats will be distributed based on votes for entire party lists.

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