Hungarians rally against govt for fifth night

Hungarians rallied outside Parliament on Friday and prepared for a fifth overnight vigil to demand Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany resign, after a leaked tape showed him admitting he had lied to win April elections.

Budapest has seen protests since Monday, with both peaceful rallies outside Parliament and rioting in which more than 200 people have been injured, since the tape was leaked last Sunday.

The mood outside Budapest’s neo-Gothic parliament, where about a thousand people gathered, was not hopeful that Gyurcsany, a millionaire Socialist, would resign.

Many demonstrators looked exhausted, with few responding to chants and calls from the speakers. Some slept in the grass and one group of teenagers listlessly played cards.

Others were disappointed that the main Fidesz opposition party had called off an anti-government rally for Saturday.

“It is like pulling on a rope, the government on one side and the people on the other side, until it suddenly snaps. But when and what will make it snap we don’t know,” said Maria (48), who said she could not give her surname as she was a civil servant.

Gyurcsany has refused to resign and has been backed by his Socialist Party in introducing a package of budget cuts to rein in the country’s huge deficit, which has surged to 10,1% of gross domestic product after four years of overspending.

“My sentiment is that the population largely supports me ...
So I will not resign,” he told Le Monde in an interview.

According to a poll by private pollster Szonda Ipsos, the government’s popularity has dropped to 22% from about 40% in the April election, as a result of a package of tax hikes and benefit cuts.—Reuters

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