Hungarian President Janos Ader announced Tuesday the country will hold a parliamentary election April 3 that will determine if Prime Minister Viktor Orban will stay in office after 12 years in power.
According to the Associated Press, the election will be the ninth since the country switched from communism to a democracy in 1990, and is the earliest date allowed by law.
The April vote will seat the 199 members of the Hungarian Parliament, which will determine if the controversial Orban maintains power with a right-wing majority, according to the electionguide.org website.
Orban, a conservative nationalist, won the seat in a landslide in 2010 and pursued policies that prioritized national sovereignty, Christian values, and opposed immigration and LGBTQ rights, putting him at odds with the European Union, according to an Aljazeera report Tuesday.
This time around, Orban and his conservative Fidesz Party are facing a united coalition of the Democratic Coalition, the Socialist Party, liberals, and even the center-right Jobbik Party, led by Hodmezovasarhely Mayor Peter Marki-Zay, who ended Orban's party's rule of that farming village in 2018.
During the last general election in 2018, Orban's Fidesz Party and allied partner, Christian Democratic People's Party, won 133 out of the 199 seats, according to the Chinese xinhuanet.com news website.
Each party must win at least 5% of the vote to hold a seat in the Parliament.
This year will likely be Orban's toughest challenge with six opposing parties lining up behind Zay to oppose him.
Politico reported Tuesday the race is being closely watched as it might signal a move either to the European mainstream, or closer to Moscow and Beijing.
Former President Donald Trump endorsed Orban last week, pledging his "complete support" for the incumbent, The New York Times reported Jan. 3.
Orban was one of Trump's earliest supporters in the 2016 presidential contest, garnering a meeting in the Oval Office in 2018, the first for the Hungarian leader since 1998.
The Times reported Trump saying Orban was a "strong leader," who has "done a powerful and wonderful job in protecting Hungary, stopping illegal immigration, creating jobs, trade, and should be allowed to continue to do so in the upcoming election."
According to the Times, Orban and his party used its power to weaken some of the country's institutions, rewriting election laws, and overhauling the country's Constitution.
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