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Hungary's rebranded far-right eyes poll success

Known for its anti-Semitic and anti-Roma rhetoric, Hungary's Jobbik party is trying to shed its far-right image and appeal to a younger audience as it heads into Sunday's general election. Jobbik posters now try to portray its members as softer and more modern. Some even show smiling candidates holding kittens. "You can't stop the future," Gabor Vona, the party's 35-year-old leader, says in one promotional video as young people in the background play football in a park.

Anti-austerity leftist promoted in French cabinet reshuffle

By Mark John PARIS (Reuters) - A fierce critic of budget austerity was named French economy minister on Wednesday in a reshuffled government packed with strident personalities, including President Francois Hollande's former live-in partner Segolene Royal. Hollande has charged the new cabinet with halting France's economic decline after 22 months in power during which his poll ratings have collapsed to record lows, leading to the trouncing of his Socialists in weekend local elections.

New French government announced

A new French government was announced on Wednesday that includes two new entrants including President Francois Hollande's former partner Segolene Royal, just days after the ruling Socialist Party suffered a drubbing in local polls. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian kept their posts, but the former finance minister was removed and his position split in two, with a finance minister and economy minister taking his place. mbx/am/ec

French Greens say they will not join new government

PARIS (Reuters) - The French Greens party will not take part in a newly formed government under Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls, it said on Tuesday, breaking away from a coalition marked by tensions over energy policy. The decision capped nearly two years of tense relations between coalition partners as the Greens sought to wind down use of nuclear energy and insisted on maintaining a blanket ban on shale gas exploration.

Bogeyman or hero, Hungary's Orban set for election cakewalk

Hungary's divisive Prime Minister Viktor Orban is tipped to waltz into another term in elections on Sunday, thanks to an improving economy, a weak opposition and according to critics, underhand tactics. After four bumpy years that saw the charismatic right-winger labelled an autocrat by some and a saviour by others, his Fidesz party may even retain its two-thirds majority in parliament, polls show.

French reluctantly accepting far-right party into mainstream

The French are gradually accepting the far-right National Front (FN) into the mainstream even if many are still hostile to the anti-immigration party that made historic gains in local elections, analysts said Monday. The FN took the mayorship in at least 11 towns and won over 1,400 seats on municipal councils in Sunday's polls. That represented an unprecedented result and a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of a party that, beset by internal divisions at the time, only claimed around 60 seats in the last local vote in 2008.

EU aid to Africa comes as carrot, not stick

The head of the EU's huge aid programme to Africa warned on Tuesday that tying investment on the continent to democratic reforms risked backfiring if viewed as neo-colonialism. "I would always warn against linking the two things directly, because it seems like blackmailing," the European Union's Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs told AFP. He emphasised that conditions on aid were necessary, but said African governments might view them as a "colonial tool".

PM Orban's party firmly leads in poll, far-right gains

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Public support for Prime Minister Viktor Orban's ruling center-right party has increased among all voters before the April 6 election and far-right Jobbik also managed to boost its standing, pollster Szazadveg reported on Monday. Its poll, conducted March 27-30, showed backing for Orban's Fidesz party rising one percentage point to 33 percent of all voters, while Jobbik also gained one point to 14 percent from the previous month.

France awaits Hollande's next move after poll debacle

"A rout", "A slap", "A kick up the backside": the headlines in France's newspapers on Monday left President Francois Hollande in no doubt about the scale of his Socialist Party's humiliation at the ballot box. After a "Black Sunday" that saw both the far-right National Front (FN) and the mainstream opposition make historic gains in nationwide local elections, Hollande was under intense pressure to react swiftly and decisively with a shakeup of his beleaguered government.

President Xi makes first-ever visit by Chinese leader to European Union headquarters

BRUSSELS - China's president is meeting with the top officials of the European Union to discuss the two sides' close business ties and their wider diplomatic relations. Xi Jinping on Monday became the first Chinese leader to visit the headquarters of the 28-country EU in Brussels. The EU is China's largest trading partner, while China is Europe's second-largest, trailing only the U.S. China and Europe trade well over 1 billion euros worth ($1.37 billion) a day.
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