Reversing Hungary’s worst economic decline in almost two decades is the sizeable task facing the man who will take over as prime minister today.
The scale of the problem will be no surprise to Gordon Bajnai. He has served as his country’s Economy Minister for the past year. A political independent, he has secured the backing of Hungary’s ruling parties. He will replace Ferenc Gyurcsany, the deeply unpopular Socialist prime minister who has stepped aside a year before a national election. Bajnai will be elected through a constructive vote of no confidence in Gyurcsany. He takes over an economy that is expected to contract by 6 percent this year and is kept afloat by an IMF-led lifeline. Pensions, child benefits and public sector wages are all targeted in spending cuts planned by Bajnai to try to get things back on track. He has said these measures will feel brutal and afffect nearly the whole population but that they will be absolutely necessary.