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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 September 2006, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Press split over Hungary turmoil
A car burns in Budapest after a night of protests
Violent protests in Budapest left 150 people injured

Hungary's leading newspapers are sharply divided over Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany's admission that his Socialist Party lied in order to secure victory in April's general election.

"Drama and catharsis" says the headline in the left-leaning Nepszava, accompanied by photographs of overnight anti-government protests outside parliament in Budapest.

The paper accuses the centre-right Fidesz opposition of deliberately organising the demonstrations for political gain.

What we have learnt is that Ferenc Gyurcsany was honest

"Fidesz is determined to provoke political chaos to force the government to resign," it says.

The country's best-selling newspaper, the centre-left Nepszabadsag, says most Hungarians already knew they had been misled by the Socialists on economic policy, and argues that the prime minister was simply coming clean.

"What we have learnt," the paper says, "is that Ferenc Gyurcsany was honest".

His government, it adds, should now "have the guts" to pursue the reform plans it originally lied about, or resign.


Other leading papers believe it is just a matter of time before Mr Gyurcsany resigns.

What he really meant by his admission, says the conservative Magyar Nemzet, is that Hungarians should now "forget what they think about democracy".

It is impossible to predict how the political elite will survive this scandal
Magyar Hirlap

For this reason, the paper insists, "not much remains for the left to do other than to sack him".

Alternatively, it adds, his supporters could just "erect a memorial".

The liberal Magyar Hirlap sets out a slightly wider range of options for Mr Gyurcsany.

The paper says he could ask for a vote of confidence in his government, resign or try to stay in power, although it warns the government's days are numbered.

"It is impossible," the paper says, "to predict how the political elite will survive this scandal".

The view from outside

Hungary's European neighbours are also looking on with interest.

One columnist in the centre-right Romanian daily Romania Libera forecasts "the whole row could cost the Socialists dear" in October's local elections.

Meanwhile, a commentator in Slovakia's centre-left Pravda warns that if the lies uttered by Hungary's Socialists go unpunished, "truth will not prevail any time soon, despite the prime minister's promises".

But for a columnist in another Slovak daily, the centre-right Sme, the affair offers wider lessons about the nature of politics.

Suggestions that lying is part and parcel of political life, he says, "hold true for all present-day democracies and their political elites".

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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