Friday, September 22, 2006

Power-Hungary Politicians Thai up loose ends

It’s certainly been a lively week in world politics...

We’ve had a coup in Thailand and what looks like an attempted coup or at least a few riots in Hungary.


The Thai situation seems fairly straightforward – people didn’t like the PM’s policies, particularly the corruption and abuse of power so the military moved in when he was out of the country and basically said “on yer bike, mate”. No blood was spilled and life carried on as normal on the streets of Bangkok, despite the odd tank and a few soldiers hanging around.

On a different, but related note, the Thailand correspondent for Channel 4 news is called Kylie Morris. Newsreader John Snow made a slight cock-up during a live report when speaking to the reporter in question. On beginning the piece, Snow with a completely straight face announced “Kylie Minogue is in Bangkok”, seemingly oblivious to the gaffe he’d just made. Now that would have been a turn-up for the books. The switchboard operators must have had a field day. Kylie carried on as if nothing had happened.

It's a safe bet that virtually all politicians tell lies in order to get elected. However it seems that the porkies told by Hungarian PM Ferenc Gyurcsany about the state of the country's public finances have been on a grand scale. Courtesy of a leaked tape on which the PM admits that he's "screwed up" the Hungarian electorate have found out and naturally they're not too happy, as demonstrated by the riots in Budapest. I’ve been following the events via our “Budapest correspondent” Paul of NI Magyar fame over at Further Ramblings.

Apparently the riots have been orchestrated by far rightists and Ferencvaros-supporting football hooligans who oppose Gyurcsany’s socialist party. However Gyurcsany’s communist past does him no favours, having profited from property deals during the country’s privatisation heyday in the 1990s to the extent of joining the country’s top 50 rich list – not a healthy position for a prime minister to be in as a certain Signor Berlusconi in Italy found out.

He’s certainly dug a hole for himself, but refuses to resign. Roger Boyes of the London Times has an interesting take on the story:

“There is only one way that Mr Gyurcsany can be levered out of power -if he is toppled by his party, rather than the demonstrators. And, so far, he is confident that will not happen. "Calm is returning to the streets of Budapest," he said, "you can see it for yourself." Outside, the crowd was growing by the minute, spilling over the tram tracks. "Resign!" came the chant. "Game over for the liar!" “ Time will tell.


Paul said...

In any normal situation Gyurcsany should have been dead and buried, but the constitutional right-wing (Fidesz) blew it big time, by failing to condemn the first outbreak of violence the day after the admission. As a result even the peaceful demos were completely taken over by the fruitcakes on the far-right who have spent as much time calling for the repeal of the Treaty of Trianon (1920!) as for the resignation of the PM.

This weekend (1st October) we'll be having the local govt elections, according to opinion polls the liberal, Gabor Demszky will hammer the agreed anti-Gyurcsany canditate in the all-important Budapest Lord Mayor election and through the rest of the country, the socialists will do better than they deserve.

If both scenarios fail to materialise, then yes, Gyurcsany could well be on the way out, but only because of internal pressure within his own party.

BTW, the number of demonstrators has dropped dramatically today, they've stopped giving out free meals to the homeless!

CW said...

Paul, it looks like a lot hinges on the outcome of the local government elections. It's not unusual for politicians to find themselves in sticky situations as a result of their past misdemanours - look at Clinton, Blair and now Ahern who have all manged to escape so far, although none of them sparked off major riots as a result. It even looks as if Gyurcsany has been able to cliam the high moral ground as a result of Fidesz's poor handling of the situation.