Local elections strike serious blow to Hungarian prime minister

Hungary’s Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany suffered major vote losses in local elections on 1 October 2006. The country’s President, Laszlo Solyom, has subsequently asked the parliament to oust Gyurcsany.

Hungary’s opposition party Fidesz won the elections, leading in 18 of 19 county councils and 19 of 23 cities. 

Shortly after the first results, Hungary’s President Laszlo Solyom asked the parliament to remove Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany from office. He said: “The parliament decides who is prime minister. The parliament can restore the required social confidence.”

Emese Danks, spokesperson for Gyurcsany’s Socialist and Free Democrat coalition refused to comment on Solyom’s announcement. He said: “This is a party issue. This has nothing to do with the government.”

Eszter Pataki, spokesperson for the Conservative opposition party Fidesz said that the party agreed with what the president said. “This is the right line”.

Shortly before the election results, Prime Minister Gyurcsany announced: “I do not see any cause to consider this election as a referendum on the central government.”

This election defeat comes as a warning to Gyurcsany, two weeks after he admitted having lied to the public about state finances to win parliamentary elections earlier this year, a move which sparked protest and uproar in the streets of Budapest. The latest events also endanger the government’s economic reforms aimed at reducing the country’s budget deficit through major cuts in public spending. On 26 September 2006, the Commission approved Hungary's convergence plan.

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