“We did not do anything for four years. Nothing. We have obviously been lying for a year and a half now. It is perfectly clear that what we were saying was not true.”
This is an excerpt from the famous, or rather, infamous speech that has made the headlines of most European media this week. Prime Minister Ferencz Gyurcsany delivered it at a Socialist Party meeting back in May. He says it was meant to convince his party members of the need for major economic reform. But the tape leaked and was posted on the web site of the Hungarian Radio, sparking protests on the streets of Hungary’s capital Budapest.
Demonstrators gathered outside the parliament building and demanded Prime Minister Gyurcsany to step down. The irrefutable evidence of his lies coupled with his tough budget reforms have angered Hungarians who are struggling to cope with tax increases, layoffs and rising energy prices.
“I am here demonstrating because even today it’s still the communists who are ruling the country. People are disappointed and embittered, a third of the residents are unemployed, retired or alcoholic.”
Tension boiled over as a group of hardcore protesters broke away from the main demonstration clashing violently with the riot police. Scores of people were arrested as the violence escalated, and many were injured. Hungarian political analyst Zoltan Kiszelly says a right wing minority is to blame.
Hungary’s estimated budget deficit for this year stands at 10.1% of the GDP, the highest in the European Union and far from the 3% the country needs in order to adopt the Euro. Gyurcsany’s Socialist-Liberal coalition won general elections in April this year and was the first government to be re-elected since the fall of communism in 1989. The cabinet leader is now vowing to continue reforms in order to rein in the skyrocketing deficit. Despite growing pressure from both protesters and the political opposition, the Prime Minister said he would not step down. But with local elections due on October the 1st, the leaked tape scandal couldn’t have come at a worse time. Gyurcsany is still backed by his Socialist – Liberal coalition but that might change should voters turn against them at the polls. It may not be long before the Prime Minister sees just how far a lie can take him.Listen to the report:
The Hungarian capital was the scene of repeated overnight violence and demonstrations this week. These were prompted by what will probably go down in history, as one of the worst gaffes made by a ruling politician. Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, admitted in a behind-doors meeting that his government “messed up and lied”. The problem is that all of this was leaked to the press, and led to demonstrations and riots. Network Europe’s EU insider reports from the Hungarian capital, Budapest.
In Sweden, voters have sent the Social Democrats into opposition in last week-end’s general elections. Swedes normally refuse to go right, the Social Democrats have been in the driving seat for most of the last eighty years. But this time apparently, they thought it was time for a change. Frederik Reinfeldt, the leader of the centre right coalition and next prime minister, is working to form a new government which is due to take power on the fifth of October. Radio Sweden tells what people in Sweden can expect from the new team in power.
On Wednesday the leader of the National Front, Jean Marie Le Pen, announced he would run in the country’s next presidential elections in Spring, his fifth bid for the presidency. The seventy eight year old leader made the announcement from the battlefield of Valmy, a key site in the history of the French Revolution. Can Le Pen, notorious for his racist and revisionist remarks, succeed in presenting himself as a Republican ? Can he capitalise on his breakthrough into the second round of the country's elections four years ago ? Radio France International reports from Valmy.
The Polish authorities have declared they will send a thousand soldiers to Afghanistan, as part of a NATO multinational force. The decision is to some extent a logical consequence of the country's support for American-led operations in the war on terror. But for the first time, the national consensus on Poland's role in such missions, seems to have been broken, with the opposition accusing the government of sending Polish troops into combat, rather than a peacekeeping mission.
Romania and its neighbour Bulgaria, will most probably join the European Union on January the 1st , 2007. Many Romanians support membership because it will allow them to work and gain experience abroad, preferably in the UK. But Radio Romania International explains that the UK may curtail its open doors policy.
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