BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Prime Minister Viktor Orban s Fidesz party was the clear winner in Sunday s nationwide municipal elections, with its candidates winning the mayor s post in Budapest, the capital, and in 20 of Hungary s 23 largest cities.
Speaking to supporters after preliminary results were announced, Orban vowed to make Hungary great in the upcoming years and boasted of winning elections for the third time this year, after victories in the national elections and for the European Parliament.
The far-right Jobbik, trying to distance itself from earlier anti-Roma and racist statements, finished mostly far behind Fidesz but ahead of the left-wing opposition in most rural areas. Jobbik won in nine smaller cities, up from three in 2010.
The splintered left-wing opposition, led by the Socialist Party, was projected to win around five of Budapest s 23 districts, at least two more than four years ago.
With 83 percent of the votes counted, turnout was around 42 percent, 4 percentage points less than in 2010.
Orban won re-election in April when Fidesz secured a new two-thirds parliamentary majority. A July speech expressing his desire to turn Hungary into an illiberal state sparked international criticism.
Western nations are alarmed at the way Orban has been trying to consolidate power, including a government crackdown on rights groups.
Orban defends his moves against the independent groups, which represent a range of causes, from women s and gay rights to media freedom and anti-corruption campaigns. In his July speech, he called them paid political activists attempting to assert foreign interests in Hungary.
In outlining his plans to make Hungary stronger, he cited Russia, China, Turkey and Singapore as examples of countries that are successful despite not being liberal democracies and maybe not even democracies.
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