Softer image helps far-right’s gains in Hungary

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Chairman of the radical nationalist Jobbik party Gabor Vona, center, delivers his speech after the parliamentary elections in the Budapest Congress Centre in Budapest, Hungary, late Sunday, April 6, 2014. (AP Photo/MTI, Janos Marjai)

Chairman of the radical nationalist Jobbik party Gabor Vona, center, delivers his speech after the parliamentary elections in the Budapest Congress Centre in Budapest, Hungary, late Sunday, April 6, 2014. (AP Photo/MTI, Janos Marjai)

Chairman of the radical nationalist Jobbik party Gabor Vona, center, delivers his speech after the parliamentary elections in the Budapest Congress Centre in Budapest, Hungary, late Sunday, April 6, 2014. (AP Photo/MTI, Janos Marjai)

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Prime Minister Viktor Orban easily trounced his rivals to once again become Hungary’s undisputed leader, but the strong showing of the country’s far-right Jobbik party has left Jewish leaders and others worried.

Jobbik’s politicians are known for anti-Semitic and anti-Roma statements, but scooped up third place in Sunday’s ballot. The party toned down its rhetoric for the contest and focused on mainstream issues like the economy.

Analysts said Monday that Jobbik’s popularity remained strong in Hungary’s northeast, a region shackled with high unemployment and conflicts with the Roma.

But it added voters in other areas, winning 20.5 percent of the votes, up from 16.7 percent in 2010.

Jobbik’s gains are seen as a warning ahead of May’s European Parliament elections, when extremist parties across the continent could attract more voters.

Associated Press

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