Gov’t ‘playing with fire’The freshly-appointed Justice and Law Enforcement Minister Albert Takács last Friday evening faced a literal baptism of fire as he received a petition from several thousand torch-carrying demonstrators. The Armed Services and Civil Defence Workers’ Interest Association, FRDÉSZ, called the torch-lit demonstration to complain about working conditions, including pay, overtime and pensions. People from the fire brigade, police, army, prison guard, customs and border guard as well as the disaster management agency stood in regimented ranks and waved torches outside Parliament while union leaders warned that the government was “playing with fire” by ignoring their demands.
Down in the polls, down on the PM, but not up to taking him onOne year on from Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány’s Balaton?szöd lies speech on 26 May 2006, speculation has resurfaced over who could have recorded and leaked the tape that sparked riots, rocked the government and handed the MSZP a massive defeat at the local elections last autumn. This is all the more pertinent because according to press reports the position of the Prime Minister, since elected party chairman earlier this year, is no longer as clear-cut. The press does have a tendency to exaggerate conflicts within the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP). Nevertheless, it is striking that the Socialists rallied behind Gyurcsány last autumn in the face of external attacks, whereas now, in the changed political environment, the key question has become the relationship between the PM and his party.
The bike protests of civil organisation Critical Mass may have met with increasing approval among politicians, yet they appear to have little actual influence on politics.Â “We have received the promise that the construction of cycle paths will be considered from now in all road renovation projects. That’s true on paper, but in reality there is little sign of that happening,” complained János László from the Hungarian Cycling Club (MKK) last week.
Commerzbank shifting to local managementCommerzbank Zrt. numbers among the banks in Hungary with a totally Hungarian board of directors. András Kozma will succeeded Oliver Sipeer as president and managing director with effect from 1 July. After more than four and a half years in Budapest, Sipeer is returning to the headquarters of the bank in Frankfurt. At the same time as this change, chief executive Tamás Hák-Kovács is also leaving Budapest to continue his career as president of Commerzbank Eurasia in Moscow.
Lugovoy: I am innocent of murderAndrey Lugovoy, the man British prosecutors want to try for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, last week accused the British secret service of being responsible for the killing. When challenged to prove the accusation, he claimed that he had evidence but declined to produce it.
Hunt on for tax-dodging politicianFollowing the publication of an editorial in the May edition of Manager Magazin that contained allegations of financial impropriety by an unnamed government politician, the deputy leader of the conservative Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) has called for the Prime Minister to deal with the case and name the politician in question.
Genghis Khan travelling exhibition comes to Hungarian National MuseumSeven hundred and sixty years ago the Mongols ravaged Asia and half of Europe, thereby creating one of the great empires in history. Genghis Khan, the “scourge of humanity” was both notorious for his cruelty and famed for his diplomatic skill.Â The travelling exhibition, which opened in Budapest last Wednesday, aims to present the good side of the leader.
Viktor Orbán, chairman of the opposition party Fidesz expresses his opinions on the undemocratic conduct of the government, early elections, Fidesz’s economic policy ideas and the far right in Hungary.
Acres of flesh, gallons of sweat and buckets of sunscreen were the order of the day last Tuesday as Hungary sweltered in a heat wave that saw both the national and Budapest records broken.
Viktor? Victorious. The party? Faithful.The main message of Viktor Orbán’s congress speech was that Fidesz has a new programme, yet the words used by the re-elected party chairman contained few specifics or new elements. Instead, Orbán attempted to consolidate and mark out the framework of the party’s politics in a sweeping synthesis of its endeavours since 2002. For Orbán, the main question now is whether, after the party chairman elections, he can convince his own party that Fidesz actually has a programme, i.e. that he is a leader with a vision and concrete ideas, who is capable not only of lambasting the left, but who could also run the country.
PM nominates new Justice Minister in wake of police scandalsThe PM last Thursday nominated Albert Takács, former deputy ombudsman for Citizens’ Rights, as Minister for Justice and Law Enforcement following his predecessor stepping down after a string of scandals. József Petrétei resigned the previous Sunday after a week in which an alleged rape by on-duty officers, a cop stealing cash from a crime scene and allegations of motorway police taking kickbacks made headlines. National Police Chief László Bene and Budapest Police Chief Péter Gergényi both quit at the same time, although PM Ferenc Gyurcsány effectively sacked them by calling for their resignations. As he asked the men to step down, the PM said he could defend the police from politically motivated accusations relating to last year’s anti-government riots, but that he “could not defend them from themselves”. Petrétei came under no public pressure to resign.
Growth tied to ability to integrate new workersThomas
Beyer, the CEO of Robert Bosch Kft., who has been in charge of the
German engineering giant’s Hungarian activities for six months, last
week spoke to The Budapest Times about the opportunities Hungary offers
and the difficulties of doing business here as a result of the
government’s austerity package.