* Voting starts at 0400 GMT, polls close at 1700 GMT
* Latest opinion polls put ruling Fidesz firmly ahead
* Far-right Jobbik party on track for strong showing
By Gergely Szakacs
BUDAPEST, April 6 Hungarians vote on Sunday in a
parliamentary election set to return Prime Minister Viktor Orban
to power for another four years and entrench the far-right
Jobbik party as a force in Hungarian politics.
The 50-year-old Orban has had repeated rows with the
European Union and foreign investors over the way he pursues
what he sees as the national interest.
But he is popular with many voters for stabilising public
finances and cutting their electricity and gas bills. Opinion
polls show his Fidesz party is on course for a landslide
Two questions remain: whether Orban can retain his
two-thirds majority in parliament, which allows him to change
the constitution, and whether Jobbik can make a late surge and
overtake the leftist opposition to become the second biggest
A good result for Jobbik, accused by critics of being
anti-Semitic and stoking antipathy toward Hungary's Roma
minority, could be a harbinger of how other nationalist
right-wing parties perform in European Parliament elections next
Public support for Orban's Fidesz stood at 34 percent a week
before the vote in a survey by pollster Ipsos, a leftist
alliance led by Socialist party Chairman Attila Mesterhazy
scored 20 percent and Jobbik was third with 14 percent.
Investors in Hungary can expect more unpredictable and, for
some, hostile policies if Orban wins the election, according to
a Reuters poll and sources with knowledge of his intentions.
For more stories, see.
Orban has pledged to stick to his policies if reelected,
continuing to cut energy prices and getting rid of foreign
currency mortgages that are burdening households. Foreign banks
fear this could inflict further losses on them.
More unpredictable policies could weigh on the forint,
especially if the central bank - led by a strong ally of Orban's
- cuts interest rates further from record lows, against a
backdrop of jittery sentiment in global markets.
"A Fidesz-led government would guarantee long-term political
stability and policy continuity," Blanka Kolenikova, Senior
Analyst at think tank IHS Country Risk, said in a research note.
"However, it would further erode the investment and business
environment, undermining Hungary's competitiveness towards its
Critics say Orban has used his mandate to curb democratic
checks and balances and the freedom of the media, allegations
his government rejects.
Voting at over 10,000 polling stations begins at 0400 GMT
and polls close at 1700 GMT. An unofficial result will be
announced on Sunday night.
Unlike four years ago, when Hungarians voted in two rounds,
Sunday's election will feature a first-past-the-post single
round in 106 constituencies, with the number of lawmakers in
parliament reduced sharply to 199 from 386.
Ethnic Hungarians in central Europe, locked outside
Hungary's redrawn borders after World War One, will vote for the
first time, although they are not likely to have a major impact
on the election's outcome.
(Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; editing by Andrew Roche)