May 26, 2019 / 7:39 AM / a year ago

Hungary's Orban hopes for anti-immigration shift in Europe in vote

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - The European parliamentary election will hopefully strengthen anti-immigration political forces across Europe, Hungarian right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban told reporters after he cast his vote on Sunday.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his wife Aniko Levai cast their ballots during the European Parliament Elections in Budapest, Hungary, May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

“I hope that there will be a shift in the European public arena in favour of those political parties who would like to stop migration,” said Orban, dressed in a dark suit and an orange tie, the colour of his Fidesz party.

“We reject migration and we would like to see leaders in position in the European Union who reject migration, who would like to stop it and not to manage it.”

Responding to a question, Orban, whose Fidesz is expected to win the election by a big margin, declined to say whether he would join Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini’s new party alliance after the election.

He said the migration issue, and how people react to it, will reshape the political spectrum in the European Union in the vote and traditional party groupings will not play the same role in the future.

Speaking in English, he said who will join whom was “the big question of the future.”

The European elections on Sunday are expected to further dent traditional pro-EU parties and bolster the nationalist fringe in the European Parliament, putting a potential brake on collective action in economic and foreign policy.

Orban said Fidesz belonged to the EPP, the European parliament’s main centre-right grouping, but the group is arguing about its future direction and Fidesz wants to influence that debate.

“We would not like to belong somewhere where we don’t have an influence on the main strategy issues,” Orban said.

Orban’s Fidesz was suspended by the EPP in March

amid concerns that it has violated EU principles on the rule of

law, and either side could pull the plug on their association.

Orban, who has flirted with far-right leaders from across

the continent while professing loyalty to the EPP, has campaigned framing the election as a choice between forces backing and opposing mass immigration.

Polls in Hungary close at 1700 GMT/1900 CET.

Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Keith Weir

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