PM Gyurcsány: Hungary needs a new prime minister

Article published on March 23, 2009
Article published on March 23, 2009
On Saturday the Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány expressed his willingness to step aside and proposed to nominate someone else at the head of the government: "I have been mistaken regarding our power and our possibilities. In moments of great importance I've failed to speak up clearly; my credibility has therefore been seriously damaged" he said.
Gyurcsány – who has stayed the leader of Hungarian socialist party – didn’t name who could follow him although there are some suggestions and guesses regarding to the new PM.

A new government leaded by a new prime minister – suggested Gyurcsány. „I’ve heard that I am the obstacle of the cooperation…I hope it’s true and I am the only one. If yes, I make the end of this obstacle” – he said.

According to Gábor Török, political analyst, there are two possible answers to Gyurcsány’s announcement. On the one hand Gyurcsány wants to demonstrate that there is no way to change. While, on the other hand he thinks it’s time to initiate the change until he is able to do that – pointed out the analyst in an interview given to on-line newspaper. Török thinks the latter one is more realistic. The aim is to have a government which can handle the crisis, to have a PM who is a real economic expert and who can focus on the current issues and find suitable solutions. Since number of seats of the socialists alone is not enough to make gone through the proposed constructive vote of no confidence that could be the tool of changing PM it is also essential for them to find supporters inside the parliament for their plan. Socialists need the support of liberals and maybe of the centre-right MDF as well.

There were many rumours about changing PM before Gyurcsány’s announcement as well. The question was only the timing: whether Gyurcsány makes it before or after EP elections expected to be a great lost for the socialists. According to political experts it is also important for Gyurcsány to keep his seat as leader of the party and, probably he can see as well that with his leadership there is no way to improve MSZP’s popularity.

The citizen’ wish

According to one of the latest opinion polls currently about 45% of answerers want new elections. Others would be satisfied if the new PM would be an expert and only 9% said that Gyurcsány should stay in his position. While a significant number of them around 43% welcomed Gyurcsány’s announcement. Concerning the successor there are already some names in the air. According to the survey people mainly know Lajos Bokros former financial minister already have wielded structural reforms between 1995 and 1996 under the socialist government. But his competence is not obvious among citizens,only 39% thinks he is able to handle the situation. According to the national press György Surányi, former leader of the central bank; András Simor, the president of Hungarian National Bank; József Gráf, minister for agriculture; Péter Kiss, chancellery minister and Gordon Bajnai, minister of economy are also mentioned among the possible successors.

What does international press say?

On the day of the announcement the biggest international media organs reported happenings in Hungary only marginally and very briefly. The New York Times was the only press having dealt with it. International media thinks that Gyurcsány’s statement is only a trick to fix his position as a leader in his party. British analysists think „it was more than obvious” that Gyurcsány cannot ride the crisis. Hungary needs an expert, the „programme will be the person himself” – think the analysists of 4cast London. The Wall Street Journal qualified the speech as a trick as well and according to them Gyurcsány’s aim is to rejoin his party. If Gyurcsány will depart, he will be one of the biggest losers of the financial crisis, like PMs of Latvia and Iceland.