The election ads were both urgent and familiar: If residents didn’t vote for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s party, Europe would be swamped with migrants. Pushed in billboards and Facebook ads, the campaign fell flat during local elections in this small town in the Hungarian heartland, once fiercely loyal to Mr. Orban, who built barbed-wire fences to keep out migrants at the height of Europe’s 2015 refugee crisis. “I am tired of this topic,” said pensioner Zoltanne Egressy, among the 58% of voters who backed the opposition at the polls in February, delivering a shock defeat to the internationally renowned politician on his home turf. “There is nobody at the border!”
Hungarian national elections set for April 8 will be a test of whether immigration—an issue that has roiled European politics—is losing its political force in a country that has been at the forefront of a reawakening of nationalist movements on the Continent.
Mr. Orban, a leader of Europe’s anti-immigration bloc, appears likely to win a fourth term. He retains considerable support, but looks likely to fall short of the commanding two-thirds majority he has held for four of the past eight years.