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Referendum could trigger government reshuffle

Parliament

Although Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány said that he would not reshuffle the Socialist-liberal government after a referendum defeat, sources suggest that there might be changes at the heads of a few ministries.

A reshuffle seems to depend on who will take over the helm of junior governing coalition partner SzDSz, which is expected to re-elect its key officials after irregularities in a party vote last year, the paper said.

A recently-passed health insurance law allowing private companies entry onto Hungary's universal health insurance market has become a sticking point between the governing parties. Socialist parliamentary group leader Ildikó Lendvai indicated earlier that the senior governing party MSzP would scrap the part of the law that allows private companies to buy stakes in regional health insurance funds. Incumbent SzDSz leader János Kóka, however, made it clear that his party would oppose any such measure, threatening even to leave the coalition if it was adopted.

If Kóka is re-elected as SzDSz party chairman, Health Minister Ágnes Horváth, a key advocate of the health insurance law, will most probably retain her post. The legislation was largely designed by SzDSz and only reluctantly passed by Socialist MPs.

The Socialists suppose that Kóka's challenger, Environment Minister Gábor Fodor, would be more compromising and less insisting on the health portfolio. It was raised as a possible scenario that the Socialists would offer the Foreign Ministry in exchange, with Kinga Göncz being replaced by either MEP István Szent-Iványi or MP István Eörsi. Another possibility would be for the Education and Culture Ministry to be split up, with SzDSz's Bálint Magyar taking over the Education Ministry and the portfolio's current head, MSzP head Istvan Hiller, remaining culture minister. (MTI-Econews)

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