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Former coalition party in Hungary chooses new leader after fraud in previous election

Former coalition party in Hungary chooses new leader after fraud in previous election

Hungary's Alliance of Free Democrats, the former partner of the governing Socialist Party, on Saturday elected Gabor Fodor as its party leader.
Fodor's election may increase the chances of the party returning to its coalition with the Socialists _ currently alone in a minority government _ or backing some of the government's policies while staying in opposition.
The vote was held early after an internal investigation confirmed suspicions of fraud at last year's party elections, which elected Janos Koka as chairman.
Fodor, a former environment minister who already had made several unsuccessful runs at the chairmanship, was Koka's only rival in Saturday's vote and won by 346-344. Three votes were declared invalid.
The Free Democrats left the ruling coalition at the end of April, accusing Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany of abandoning the program of economic reforms aimed at improving Hungary's ailing economy.
Since then, the Socialists have maintained a minority government, with 190 lawmakers in the 386-seat parliament.
Both Free Democrat nominees said they were unwilling to re-establish the coalition with Gyurcsany, but observers say Fodor would likely be more willing to reach a compromise with the Socialists, especially if the governing party nominated a new prime minister.
One reason for a compromise is that neither the Free Democrats nor the Socialists want early elections, which could easily result in an large majority in the legislature for Fidesz, the main center-right opposition group led by former Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Gyurcsany has been struggling politically since a closed-doors speech he made to Socialist lawmakers admitting the government lied about the economy to win re-election was leaked to the media in September 2006.
Weeks of protests and several riots calling for Gyurcsany's resignation ensued, but he survived a no-confidence vote in parliament after the Free Democrats decided to continue backing him.
National elections are scheduled for April 2010.


Updated : 2021-05-12 11:29 GMT+08:00