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President chides PM, but says he will not call for resignation

Hungarian President László Sólyom said in a statement on Monday that he would not call for the Ferenc Gyurcsány Prime Minister's resignation; however, the President did refer to his moral responsibility in connection with a leaked recording in which he said the government had lied to voters. "The constitution does not authorize the president to do this in this situation," Sólyom said, after being asked to action by the opposition parliamentary group of Fidesz-KDNP. He stressed, however, that the news had caused a moral crisis in Hungary. The PM's response has worsened this crisis because he "mixed his personal responsibility with his assessment of the politics of the past 16 years," he said. Sólyom emphasized that no aim can justify that anyone should risk confidence in democracy or should do so consciously, in fact proudly. "I expect the prime minister to admit this publicly," he added.

On his way home from an official meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Gyurcsány said, "I agree with the President that the confidence in democracy must not be risked. My endeavour is to restore this confidence." He added that "the government, the governing parties, and I personally intend to break with the political lies of the past sixteen years." "The announced changes and the further reform plans clearly show that this governing coalition and the left-wing parties in it have actively undertaken its share of the responsibility, undertaking the responsibility of substantial changes", the PM said, expressing his conviction that "it is really this policy that will restore confidence in democracy".

Sólyom also noted that the speech, which was leaked on Sunday, did not contain anything new. He said the basic issue is what means are permissible to achieving political ends. Citizens lose the chance to take responsible decisions if the statements of fact, promises and programs made publicly do not reveal the truth or genuine intentions, Sólyom said. The PM is responsible not to the President but to Parliament and only a majority of MPs can withdraw confidence from the PM and the government. The President can only dissolve parliament if parliament withdraws confidence from the government at least four times in 12 months or if the government's mandate terminates and parliament does not elect the person proposed as PM by the President within forty days, Sólyom noted.

Fidesz and KDNP's parliamentary leaders said in a public letter earlier in the day: "What is at stake is no longer the continued rule of the Socialist-liberal coalition government but restoring the confidence of millions in democracy and Hungary's future." "Ferenc Gyurcsány...has become a persona non grata in Hungary's democratic public life," Tibor Navracsics (Fidesz) and Zsolt Semjén (Christian Democrats) wrote. Earlier on Monday the Socialist Party voiced support for the prime minister. "The Hungarian Socialist Party supports Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány," party President István Hiller told a news conference on Monday. Gyurcsány insisted on Monday that he would not resign after the leak of the recording. The row over Gyurcsány’s leaked speech will not affect the functioning of the coalition, chairman of junior governing party SZDSZ, Gábor Kuncze, said on Monday. Kuncze said his views of the past four years differed from Gyurcsány’s but the fallout of his remarks would not affect the functioning of the coalition. He said that Gyurcsány’s claims that the government had been lying were "rhetorical exaggerations".

Speculation that the government would consider introducing a state of emergency are untrue and the National Security Cabinet has not held a meeting discussing the matter, government spokeswoman Emese Danks told MTI on Monday. She said the government is in its place and is working. Danks was responding to a question from MTI about a statement read by demonstrators in front of the parliament building around noon on Monday. The statement alleged the government had introduced a state of emergency under a decision by the National Security Cabinet. (Mti-Eco)