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Unpopular PM sees slight rise in approval rating

The popularity of Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány has risen slightly after a long decline prompted by his admission last year that he had lied about the economy, according to a poll released on Monday.

The poll, carried out by Szonda Ipsos and published in the daily Népszabadság, queried 1,500 adults at the end of May and found that Gyurcsány’s popularity had ticked up from 29 to 30 points. While the rise may be marginal, it will likely come as a relief to the unpopular prime minister, who saw his popularity plummet from a high of over 50 points before last April's general elections.

The major causes for Gyurcsány’s dramatic fall from grace were the introduction of an austerity package after the elections and then the leak of a tape showing that he had lied about the state of the economy. Anti-government riots broke out following the release of the tape in September 2006 and continued sporadically until the end of October.

The austerity package saw a rise in energy prices and many taxes as well as healthcare reform. The healthcare reform, which has seen the introduction of fees for visiting the doctor and the closure of beds, has proven particularly unpopular. Health Minister Ágnes Horváth is even more disliked than Gyurcsány, with only 24 points in the poll, despite only being in the job for a few months. The poll, which queried 1,500 adults at the end of May, found the President László Sólyom and Ibolya Dávid, the head of small conservative opposition party the Hungarian Democratic Forum, were the most popular politicians, with 49 points each. (