A Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) official last week said that a petition was about to get underway calling for a new convention that could see Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány replaced. István Komáromi, head of the MSZP’s Pécs branch, said that Gyurcsány was suitable for the position of party chairman, which he currently holds, but that Agriculture Minister József Gráf was a better choice for Prime Minister, the right-leaning daily Magyar Nemzet reported.
Daily Archive: April 26, 2008
A meagre 11% of the electorate
would vote for the Hungarian Socialist Party if elections were held now while
32% would vote for main right-of-centre opposition party Fidesz, a poll by
Századvég-Forsense found last week. The Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ),
which is set to quit the coalition this week, polled 2%, as did minor
conservative party the Hungarian Democratic Forum. Some 72% of voters, up from
60% in February, said they believed the cabinet is doing a bad job.
The Hungarian Football
Federation (MLSZ) last Thursday announced that it had appointed Erwin Koeman,
the elder brother of Dutch legend Ronald Koeman, to manage the national side.
Koeman, 46, will on 1 May take over from Péter Várhidi, who led Hungary through
an unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the Euro 2008 championships. The former
midfielder will be handed the task of raising Hungary’s performance before a
tough World Cup qualifying campaign. Hungary must overcome Portugal, Sweden,
Denmark, Malta and Albania to reach the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Koeman
was capped 31 times for Holland and was part of the squad that brought Holland
its only ever European title at Euro 1988 in West Germany. He began his
management career with RKC Waalwijk in 2004 and moved on to manage Feyenoord
the next year. He quit Feyenoord last May. Várhidi took charge at the end of
2006, halfway through Hungary’s qualification campaign and in the wake of an
embarrassing defeat to Malta. While Hungary occasionally performed well under Várhidi
– most notably beating World Champions Italy 3-1 in a friendly last year – he
failed to bring back the glory days of the 1950s, when Hungary, with Ferenc
Puskás at the peak of his powers, was considered the greatest national team in
the world. Nonetheless, Várhidi was handed a contract extension in January when
the MLSZ failed to secure the foreign coach they were believed to be pursuing.
Minor left-wing party the
Social Democratic Party (MSZDP) has changed its rules to make it harder for
disgruntled supporters of the ruling Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) defecting
in floods to join. Party chairman László Kapolyi said that new applicants would
only have temporary membership for the first year before a final decision is
made. Many MSZP supporters, apparently vexed by the government’s economic
reforms, have supposedly been attempting to join the MSZDP, which is further to
the left of the MSZP.
Former head of Budapest
Police, Péter Gergényi, will go on trial at the end of June charged with abuse
of office. He is alleged to have illegally reassigned six officers to what were
considered worse or less well paid jobs without giving reasons for the
transfers. Gergényi has pleaded not guilty to all six charges he faces and
argues that he was entitled to reassign the officers “in the interests of the
service”. He will be tried before the Military Panel of the Municipal Court.
The City Council session
was adjourned last Thursday with numerous items on the agenda left untouched
due to the kerfuffle over the Turul statue (see page 1). Among them was the
application for a HUF 900 million (EUR 3.56 million) EU subsidy to build 17
kilometres of bus lanes. Council plans drawn up in partnership with an NGO
called the City and Suburban Transport Group called for bus lanes to ease
public transport congestion at such traffic black spots as Dózsa György út,
Hegyalja út and Andrássy út. Because the council failed to endorse the
application for EU structural funds last Thursday, it is now unlikely that the
5 May deadline will be met.
The US Embassy last week
released its new blacklist of restaurants and bars where people were allegedly
abused by staff. The Embassy, which said it continuously receives complaints,
listed La Dolce Vita, Városközpont and Galaxia Étterem, all in the touristy
District V, on its list. However, László Rónaszéki, District V notary, told the
daily Napi Gazdaság that the blacklist was unfounded as no irregularities had
been officially uncovered.
The council in charge of
implementing the government’s New Ownership Programme, which is aimed at
encouraging people to buy shares in state-owned properties, last week announced
details of how the scheme will work. People can invest up to HUF 1 million (EUR
3,966), and the government will offer a 5-10% discount, loans of up to 70% of
the purchase price and tax allowances for those not taking loans, the council
said. National lottery operator Szerencsejáték, Magyar Posta and, national grid
operator MVM and the national motorway management company ÁAK can all be
partially privatised, the council said.
Hikes in salaries for
public workers have been largely responsible for public administration overspending,
Éva Palócz, the head of research institute Kopint-Tarki told the daily
Népszabadság last week. Palócz said that gross salaries went up by 24% and that
net wages also rose 20%, despite the fact that the government had promised to
cut the cost of public administration as part of its economic reforms. While
Palócz acknowledged that some jobs had been cut, she said that government was
still too expensive – amounting to some 5% of GDP, above the European average.
Hungary finished in 20th
place in a survey of the average hourly wage cost in the EU, published by the
German Statistical Office last week. The office said that Hungary’s hourly wage
cost was EUR 7.7, well below the average of EUR 22.8. However, while in the EU
36% of the hourly wage cost is paid in tax on average, in Hungary the figure is