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Hungary's Prime Minister Survives Confidence Vote


Hungary's prime minister, who has been under pressure to resign, has survived a vote of confidence. Before the vote, he apologized to parliament for not facing the reality of the dire state of the economy. Following the vote, thousands of people joined a mass protest outside parliament to press demands for the prime minister to resign.

After hours of debate and an emotional speech by the prime minister, the parliamentary chairwoman announced the results of the confidence vote.

She says the vote was 207 to 165 in support of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany.

Mr. Gyurcsany requested the confidence vote to boost support for planned austerity measures. He has been fighting a battle for his political life since last month, after he admitted lying about the dire state of the economy.

The revelation sparked three weeks of sometimes violent protests and calls for his resignation.

On Sunday, Mr. Gyurcsany's Socialist Party and its coalition partner suffered large losses in nationwide municipal elections. The right-leaning opposition party, Fidesz, said that result amounted to a referendum on the government and its unpopular austerity measures, aimed at reducing Hungary's budget deficit, the highest within the European Union.

Addressing parliament before the vote, Mr. Gyurcsany said he wanted to apologize for his Socialist-led government's failure to, in his words, confront an unsustainable policy, and for luring voters into believing that the country's problems would solve themselves.

But he rejected accusations that he knowingly misled the country.

And, he said, the daily protests in the square outside Parliament of recent weeks could not unseat him.

"After finishing this vote of confidence, we have to see how to solve Hungary's problems." But, he adds "we have to do it here, and not on Lajos Kossuth Square, in front of the parliament building."

In the evening, following the vote, Fidesz organized another rally, calling on the prime minister to resign.

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