Hungary PM: we lied to win election
Monday September 18, 2006
The recording comes from a speech Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany gave to a closed party meeting shortly after his Socialist-Liberal coalition took office for a second term.
In the leaked speech, parts of which have been played on Hungarian state radio, he argued that major economic reforms were needed. "There is not much choice. There is not, because we screwed up," he said. "Not a little: a lot. No European country has done something as bone-headed as we have," he continued.
"You cannot quote any significant government measure we can be proud of, other than at the end we managed to bring the government back from the brink. Nothing. If we have to give account to the country about what we did for four years, then what do we say?"
"We lied in the morning; we lied in the evening," he said.
On Sunday around 3,000 protesters called for the leader's resignation outside parliament in Budapest. But Mr Gyurcsany defended the leaked tape - which was littered with foul language - and said he would not resign.
He claimed the statement "we lied" did not refer to the overall state of the economy but was about "general lies" told by politicians over several years. "Hungarians want to live like those in the west, but they are unwilling to adopt the western norms," he said. "For years ... we made people believe that they have nothing to do, that we will give them happiness as a gift."
Hungary has suffered from budget deficits since 2000 and recently submitted a plan to the European Commission to reduce its deficit - the biggest in the EU - mainly through tax rises.
Some observers say the leaked tape could have come from Mr Gyurcsany's office as a way to justify tough economic reforms. Just hours after the tape came out, a full transcript was posted on his weblog.
The Socialist party won their second term in office in April, with a coalition government taking 210 of the 386 parliamentary seats.
Budapest Business Journal