Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany’s Socialist-led coalition won a decisive victory in Hungary’s parliamentary elections in April. His government thereby became the first in central and eastern Europe to serve consecutive terms in office since the fall of communism. Born in 1961, Gyurcsany is not a natural political animal. He made his name and fortune by buying up former state assets following the advent of privatisation. After his re-election this year, he vowed to axe public sector jobs and raise taxes to tackle the joint problems of economic growth and the huge budget deficit, the highest in Europe at 6.1 percent of GDP.
“My first hundred days will see one hundred measures in place,” he claimed at the time. Gyurcsany’s defenders say his charisma has transformed Hungary’s political left, but whether it is enough to see him through this current crisis remains to be seen.