Fighting off a shower of rotten tomatoes, eggs and even potatoes, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany has been taking part in celebrations in the capital Budapest to mark Hungary’s national holiday. The protestors were renewing demands for him to step down.
The Prime Minister has faced calls to leave ever since a tape was leaked last September in which he admitted lying about the state of the economy to win the general election. The parliament building is still barricaded after violent protests at the end of last year.
Far-right parties had threatened to disrupt celebrations but a heavy police presence kept them at bay. Critics see the Socialist government as successors to the Communists and accuse them of failing to keep campaign pledges. Supporters say tax rises and spending cuts introduced by the government were necessary to rein in Hungary’s budget deficit. Some Hungarians stayed away from the festivities for fear of violence. But authorities said they didn’t expect unrest on the scale of the riots which spread through the streets of the capital at the end of 2006.