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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 August, 2004, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
Summer heat on Hungary's government
Hungary press graphic

August, for politicians, is supposed to be a quiet month. But Hungary's newspapers show it is not proving so for embattled Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy and his Socialist-led government.

"Cabinet has drifted to edge of disintegration", says a headline in Magyar Hirlap. "Medgyessy must give up his place", the paper proclaims. "End of an era," says Nepszabadsag.

Even leftist papers like Nepszava are talking about a "crisis", while the right-wing Magyar Nemzet describes "chaos" in the party, which it blames on "an increasingly spectacular leadership crisis".

"In this country, every summer promises a hot autumn. This time the reason is that, in the summer heat, the leaves are whispering that Medgyessy will have to go," says Nepszabadsag.


During Mr Medgyessy's recent absence on holiday in Spain, infighting took hold in the ruling Socialist party.

The left wing has called for a slackening of Mr Medgyessy's tight fiscal policy.

The Socialists lost June's European parliament elections to the centre-right, and party left-wingers say the only way to hold on to power is more emphasis on social welfare.

We are witnessing a deepening and increasingly complicated crisis on the Hungarian left
Magyar Hirlap

Returning from holiday, the prime minister has refused to accept his sports minister's resignation, and persuaded the justice minister not to quit, in efforts to quash speculation his government is in crisis.

Mr Medgyessy has also fired his spokesman, citing a need for a new communications strategy now Hungary has entered the European Union.

"The month started with the government's most popular minister considering leaving his post and the prime minister trying to decide whether he should dismiss the current sports minister," Nepszava comments.

"The case at hand definitely involves more than a seasonal dip: we are witnessing a deepening and increasingly complicated crisis on the Hungarian left," says a commentary in Magyar Hirlap.

New leadership?

But Mr Medgyessy insists his government, a coalition of Socialists and the liberal Free Democrats, will not waver and see through its mandate to 2006.

In the premier's defence, Nepszabadsag says: "Medgyessy's maximum goal at the moment is to lead the country through the first waves of the EU years without major shocks... even if it is most likely that the original government programme will not be implemented."

In October, the party stages its main congress, at which a new party president will be chosen who will have a key role in setting policy. Magyar Hirlap suggests rivalry with Youth Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany may lead to a change at the top.

But Nepszabadsag disagrees: "It is a waste of time questioning the prime minister's suitability because the current coalition has no one with which to replace him."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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