Hungary primaries deadline extended after ‘cyber attack’

Hungary’s first ever opposition primary elections to find a candidate to take on  Prime Minister Viktor Orban were extended Sunday by two days after a suspected cyber attack forced polling to be suspended.

Voting in electoral districts nationwide was suspended Saturday after a system crash, just two hours after polling started.

The National Primary Election Commission (OEVB) that organised the vote said in a statement Sunday that first-round voting “will be extended by two days to September 28”.

Opposition leaders blamed Orban and the government for an attack, saying they were “scared that masses of people wanted to express their opinion”.

Gergely Hajdu, whose aHang civil organisation is managing the technical rollout of the elections, told AFP “there was an attack, most probably from abroad, but the investigation is still ongoing”.

“This kind of attack was a much bigger one than we ever imagined might happen,” said Hajdu.

“But there is no evidence yet that the government or any foreign forces wanted to hack the whole system,” he said.  

“The system is stabilised, and voting will restart Monday morning,” he added.

Orban’s ruling Fidesz party accused the opposition of “incompetence” in a statement on Sunday while the main pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet said the election was marred  by “utter amateurism” and “huge organisational problems”.

After years of bickering and a string of landslide losses, a diverse six-party opposition alliance has formed to seek to push Orban from power in elections in April next year.

Set up last year, it accuses the 58-year-old Orban — who regularly clashes with Brussels over migration and rule-of-law issues — of endemic corruption and creeping authoritarianism.

Over 250 candidates are standing in the primarieswith voting taking place online and in-person.

If required, a three-way run-off for the prime ministerial candidacy will be held between October 4-10.