The fast-tracked appointment of Hungary’s new prime minister has sparked angry street protests.
Thousands gathered in Budapest to denounce the incoming administration and demand early elections instead. A number of radical right-wing activists clashed with police and the EU flag was burned. Earlier, the atmosphere was different, with folk songs sung by the crowd. But, as the economic crisis hits hard, feelings are running high. Protesters believe there is no time to lose and that a return to the polls is crucial. Describing the country’s leaders as gangsters, one woman said the change in faces would not mean a thing. Parliament however is giving Gordon Bajnai a chance to prove he can reverse Hungary’s fortunes. Endorsed as prime minister, he takes over from the deeply unpopular Socialist Ferenc Gyurcsany who announced he would resign last month. “The world crisis is in such an unusual state that it necessitates unusual decisions from the political sphere, from the state and the people as well,” Bajnai, the politically independent former economy minister, told the chamber. “I don’t want to mince words, I am not here as an orator, but as a crisis manager.” Bajnai now has the mandate he needs for austerity measures aimed at reviving an economy kept afloat by an IMF-led bailout.