Budapest Rocked by Second Day of Anti-Government Violence
20 September 2006
Tensions remain high in the Hungarian capital Budapest after at least 50 people were injured in a second night of clashes between anti-government demonstrators and riot police. The demonstrators demand the resignation of Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany who has admitted he and his government lied over the state of the economy.
Despite reinforcements, riot police have failed to prevent an outburst of violence in Budapest. There were similar scenes as during a previous night of fighting around the building of Hungarian state-run television.
This time, angry protesters clashed near the headquarters of the ruling Hungarian Socialist Party.
Riot police using tear gas and water cannons, as well as police on horseback, tried to disperse the crowd of mostly young people. Demonstrators shouted slogans and hurled objects at the police, a police car was set ablaze, and trash cans were put on fire.
The demonstrators want Hungarian Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany to resign because he admitted lying about the economy to win re-election in April.
Despite an austerity package aimed at reducing the country's budget deficit, it remains the highest within the European Union, raising serious doubts as to whether Hungary, which joined the E.U. in 2004, will be able to introduce the euro currency any time soon.
Some protestors have compared the situation with the Orange Revolution for more freedom in neighboring Ukraine and the Hungarian 1956 Revolution against Soviet domination. But Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany disagrees and has condemned the violent demonstrations.
"Just because 2,000 or 3,000 people don't understand what [they] can do and what one must not do, is not right foundation or a right cause to turn up [sight down] the peace and the calm of the country," he said.
He also told reporters in Budapest that he will not resign and plans to continue with his austerity measures.
"Fiscal adjustments and reforms," he said. "I know this is very difficult and difficult for the people, but this is the only one route for Hungary."
A recent opinion poll shows 43 percent of Hungarians want him to resign. But slightly more people 47 percent say he should not resign as in their words "all politicians lie."
Mr. Gyurcsany still has the support of his Hungarian Socialist Party. But analysts warn that with ongoing demonstrations, he may not be able to finish a full term in office.
His dismissal could not come soon enough for the center right opposition and demonstrators gathering again in front of Hungary's parliament building.
In the middle of the square is a coffin draped in black surrounded by large portraits of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany and the leader of the Socialists liberal coalition partner. A banner reads: "We are burying the Gyurcsany-government; for you there is no resurrection."
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