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Bajnai takes helm of Hungary in the storm

Now the real work begins for Gordon Bajnai after finally being sworn in to the nation’s toughest job.

New Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai has offered an olive branch to opposition parties in an attempt to break the political deadlock that has stymied attempts to put the recession-struck country back on a sound economic footing.

“The country has no money left for fighting,” Bajnai said in Parliament shortly after winning a confidence vote from MP s. His office door was open to everyone, he added, “and there is no insult that will make me close it. I am secondary, dealing with the crisis is the first thing”.

Bajnai, a businessman and former National Development and Economy Minister, has promised a “painful” program that could involve an overhaul of the welfare state. In return, he hopes to cut taxes – which are higher than in neighboring countries such as Romania and Slovakia – to boost competitiveness.

Bajnai replaced Ferenc Gyurcsány, who became notorious for confessing that his Socialist party had lied to win the 2006 elections. He was further weakened when his Free Democrat coalition partners walked out of government last year after a referendum torpedoed his government’s flagship healthcare reform.

Politically independent Bajnai said he did not want a political career and was taking the post for only one year until elections next spring.