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Hungary's opposition to take part in parliament vote on prime minister

Hungary's opposition to take part in parliament vote on prime minister

Hungary's main center-right opposition group said it would heed a call from President Laszlo Solyom and participate in the vote of confidence to be held Friday on Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany.
Opposition leader Viktor Orban had called the vote requested by Gyurcsany a "deceitful and worthless trick" and said his party, Fidesz-Hungarian Civic Union, would boycott it.
But party officials said Solyom's statement on Wednesday asking the opposition to take part in the parliamentary proceedings had made them change their mind.
"We think the president's opinion is very important in Hungarian politics ... so Fidesz revised its decision ... and has decided to follow the president's guidance and participate in Friday's parliamentary session and decision," Fidesz parliamentary faction leader Tibor Navracsics told reporters.
Zsolt Semjen, leader of the Christian Democrats, a Fidesz ally, said they still were opposed to holding Friday's vote of confidence by roll call instead of in a secret ballot.
"We continue to object to the open vote by which they are pressuring the lawmakers of the government parties," Semjen said.
Despite Wednesday's decision, Fidesz said it would go ahead with plans to hold a protest Friday outside parliament, unless the coalition initiates Gyurcsany's ouster by Thursday afternoon.
Lawmakers from both parties in the governing coalition _ Gyurcsany's Socialists and the much smaller Alliance of Free Democrats _ have pledged unanimous support for the prime minister and his program of reforms at Friday's extraordinary session in parliament.
Gyurcsany's Socialist-led coalition suffered heavy setbacks in Sunday's nationwide municipal elections, and Gyurcsany asked for the vote of confidence as a show of political support for the austerity package and reforms he has announced to cut the state budget deficit, the largest in the European Union.
President Laszlo Solyom said in a statement released Wednesday that it was to be expected that the opposition "assess in parliament and take part in decisions regarding events influencing the foundations of democracy," such as the vote of confidence.
Mass protests were a democratic right, he said, but "can in no way be pitted against political engagement in parliament."
At the same time, Solyom said the vote on Gyurcsany also would decide whether the prime minister had used "permissible means" to win April's general elections _ a reference to Solyom's own speech to the nation on Sunday, in which he said Gyurcsany had yet to acknowledge "that he used improper means to hold onto power and then begin putting the state finances in order."
"This undermines the trust in democracy," Solyom said shortly after voting booths closed in Sunday's vote.
Street protests against Gyurcsany have been held continuously since Sept. 17, when he could be heard admitting on a leaked recording that the government lied about the economy to win general elections in April.
Two days of riots two weeks ago _ attributed mainly to soccer hooligans, but seemingly rooted in the anti-government mood _ left nearly 150 police and dozens of participants injured.
Gyurcsany and other government officials have described Orban's strategy of launching his own protests as antidemocratic, and said the coalition would neither give in to blackmail nor accept ultimatums from Fidesz about Gyurcsany.
Orban has called for a "government of experts" to be given a temporary mandate to set the country's economy in order.
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Associated Press Writer Palma Benczenleitner contributed to this story.


Updated : 2021-07-29 04:03 GMT+08:00