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Last Updated: Friday, 20 August, 2004, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
Profile: Peter Kiss
Hungarian politician Peter Kiss
(Picture: Hungarian government web site)

Peter Kiss, 45, is a former engineer who played a vital role in creating the Hungarian Socialist Party from the ashes of the Communist party in the early 1990s.

Twice a labour minister, he is now the minister directing the Prime Minister's Office.

And a quick glance at his career CV published on the government's website shows his pedigree for political leadership.

After graduating from Budapest Technical University in 1983, he became active in the upper echelons of the ruling party's Young Communist Federation (KISZ).

System change

He was first secretary of the KISZ Budapest Committee in the vital years 1987-89, when pro-democracy challenges to one-party rule were getting under way.

He was appointed to the ruling Communist party's Central Committee in May 1989, just months before the party imploded into a Western-style, social democratic model and allowed the first multi-party elections the following year.

In 1992, he became an MP for the Hungarian Socialist Party, then in opposition. And on the Socialists' election to power in 1994, he became minister of labour under the then prime minister, Gyula Horn.

According to Financial Times in 1997, he oversaw a rise in the number of people finding work and the reversal of a 10-year trend in rising unemployment.

The Socialists governed until they lost the general election of 1998, but came back into power with Mr Medgyessy at the helm in May 2002.

Back in government

Mr Kiss was labour minister again from 2002-2003, when he stressed his desire to see Hungarian wages and living standards catch up with West European levels.

And in the run-up to EU membership in May 2004, one of his priorities while minister was to legalise much of the casual and black market labour in construction, farming and cleaning.

The politicians who have the organisational abilities to manage restructuring (such as Peter Kiss) are not marketable
Magyar Nemzet

Earlier this month an editorial in the centre-right Magyar Nemzet said the Socialists lacked any leading members with enough charisma to win the 2006 general election, should Mr Medgyessy be ditched.

"The politicians who have the organizational abilities to manage restructuring (such as Peter Kiss and Imre Szekeres) are not marketable due to their lack of public popularity," it stated.

But in May, the centre-left Nepszabadsag said Mr Kiss's star was in the ascendancy, and cited public opinion polls showing him up three points, putting him 16th in a table ranking the country's most popular politicians from all parties.

The centre-right Heti Valasz published an article by Andras Bodis in December 2003, marking him out as a likely Medgyessy successor.

"Peter Kiss - the good master. One cannot rule out the possibility that prior to the 2006 elections the Socialists are going to scare/entice voters with this slogan."

Bodis said Kiss was lucky to have allies in place at the top of the Socialist Party, at the Governmental Communication Centre and in Hungarian Television.

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.


Hungarian prime minister resigns
19 Aug 04  |  Europe

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