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World Briefing / Hungary

Prime minister resigns as party popularity flags

March 22, 2009|Times Wire Reports

Hungary's prime minister stunned the country by announcing his resignation, saying he had become an "obstacle" to the reforms needed to pull the nation out of its worst financial crisis since the end of communism nearly 20 years ago.

Ferenc Gyurcsany, of the ruling Socialists, made the unexpected announcement at his party's congress, saying he was keeping a pledge made in January 2008 to change leadership if the beleaguered party's popularity failed to recover.

"Support for us has not grown. On the contrary, it has diminished," Gyurcsany said. "I propose forming a new government with a new prime minister."

The Socialists have governed with a minority in parliament since May, when a coalition partner walked out unsatisfied with Gyurcsany's commitment to reforms.

Gyurcsany said he would notify parliament of his decision today, and called for a party meeting in two weeks to choose a candidate to head the new administration.

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