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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 party said it would heed a call from President Laszlo Solyom and participate in a 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 request Wednesday for the opposition take part made them change their minds.
"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.
Protesters demanding Gyurcsany's resignation have been out on the streets since the leak on Sept. 17 of a recording in which the prime minister is heard saying that his government lied about the economy to win April general elections.
Fidesz has repeatedly said that Gyurcsany's acknowledgment that he lied disqualifies him and that his party should nominate a replacement to go before a confidence vote.
The opposition says holding a vote of confidence in Gyurcsany amounts to nothing more than political theater and that the outcome is already certain, since the parties in the governing coalition hold a majority in the assembly and have pledged their backing.
They also object to an open, roll call vote, because it could discourage any government-allied lawmakers who may have voted against Gyurcsany in a secret vote from doing so openly.
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.
The coalition has 210 seats in the 386-seat assembly.
If Gyurcsany loses the confidence vote _ which analysts said was highly unlikely _ the government would be forced to resign and President Solyom would have to nominate a new prime minister for parliament to elect.
In his statement Wednesday, Solyom said living in a democracy obliged the opposition to take part in Friday's vote. Mass protests were a democratic right, too, he said, but "can in no way be pitted against political engagement in parliament."
Solyom said Friday's vote also would decide whether the prime minister had used "permissible means" to win April's general elections.
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Associated Press Writer Palma Benczenleitner contributed to this story.