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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 September 2006, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Hungary's troubled PM vows to stay
By Nick Thorpe
BBC News, Budapest

Protesters in Budapest early on Wednesday 20 September
Dozens were reportedly injured during Tuesday's clashes
After two days of sometimes violent street protest in Budapest, Hungarian prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany remains adamant that he will not resign.

The latest protests were sparked by Mr Gyurcsany's remarkable admission that his government had lied in order to win victory in the general election in April, and had achieved nothing in its past four years in office.

Five parliamentary parties reached a rare agreement on one subject at least, adopting on Tuesday a declaration condemning the previous night's

violence at Hungarian TV headquarters, in which more than 100 people were injured, many of them policemen.

"Hungary needs the telling of the truth, honesty, decency, calmness and order," read the final text.

Mr Gyurcsany was also at pains to personally condemn the violence, describing it as "not a revolution... [but] a betrayal of our great national history".

'Hungarian Tony Blair'

Two weeks before local elections, the prime minister's fate appears to hinge as much on his Socialist party, as on the Hungarian street.

Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany. File photo
Mr Gyurcsany has vowed to continue reforms

The 45-year-old-former leader of KISZ, the Young Communist League, became one of Hungary's wealthiest businessmen in the 1990s, then with a mixture of burning ambition and political tact, nudged aside other challengers to replace the lacklustre Peter Medgyessy - also a millionaire - as Socialist prime minister in the summer of 2004.

Modelling himself on Britain's Tony Blair, he set about shaking up the Socialists - something which has gone well for him so long as he wins elections.

His crowning triumph was the general election victory in May this year - the first incumbent government to win re-election in the 16 years since parliamentary democracy was restored.

Resignation calls

Since then, he has been forced by the dire state of the Hungarian economy - which has the largest budget deficit among the 25 member states of the EU - to introduce a raft of tough economic measures.

We lied morning, noon and night
Ferenc Gyurcsany
Excerpt from leaked tape

These include the introduction of fees for health care and university tuition.

One of many mysteries in Hungary at the moment is why riot police allowed violent elements on the fringe of Monday night's protest free rein - to ransack the ground floor of the TV building, and wreck cars and police vehicles outside.

One theory advanced by some analysts, is that the violence was actually useful to the prime minister, distracting public attention from his own confession of dishonesty.

The leader of the conservative opposition party, Fidesz, Viktor Orban, has said that Mr Gyurcsany's fate should be decided by the voters - in the 1 October local elections.

If his party suffers a heavy defeat, as opinion polls predict, Mr Orban has said the Socialist party should find someone to replace him.

With that comment, Mr Orban carefully distanced himself from the street protests, and made clear that the opposition is not calling for new elections. Just for the Socialists to come up with a new prime minister.


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