|Prime Minister of Hungary
6th Prime Minister of the Third Republic of Hungary
29 September 2004 – 14 April 2009
|Preceded by||Péter Medgyessy|
|Succeeded by||Gordon Bajnai|
|Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports|
18 May 2003 – 27 September 2004
|Prime Minister||Péter Medgyessy|
|Preceded by||György Jánosi|
|Succeeded by||post abolished|
4 June 1961 |
|Political party||DK (2011–present)|
He was nominated to take that position on 25 August 2004 by the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), after Péter Medgyessy resigned due to a conflict with the Socialist Party's coalition partner. Gyurcsány was elected Prime Minister on 29 September 2004 in a parliamentary vote (197 yes votes, 12 no votes, with most of the opposition in Parliament not voting). He led his coalition to victory in the parliamentary elections in 2006, securing another term as Prime Minister. His first rise to power was the result of a coalition conflict. His legitimacy was permanently questioned by opposition parties based on the fact that he withheld information about the actual budget deficit in his 2006 re-election campaign. He was also criticised for using derogatory terms for his own country in his speech in Balatonőszöd. After that speech leaked out, demonstrations started on the streets of Budapest where many people were injured, both demonstrators and policemen.
On 24 February 2007, he was elected as the leader of the MSZP, taking 89% of the vote. On 21 March 2009 Gyurcsány announced his intention to resign as Prime Minister. He stated that he is a hindrance to further economic and social reforms. President László Sólyom stated that instead of a short term transational government ruling only until the 2010 elections, early elections should be held. On 28 March Gyurcsány resigned from his position as party chairman, he was the leader of MSZP between 2007–2009. A minister under Gyurcsány, Gordon Bajnai became the nominee of MSZP for the post of prime minister in March 2009 and he became Prime Minister on 14 April.
- 1 Early years
- 2 Return to politics
- 3 Prime Minister
- 4 Post-Prime Ministerial career
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Criticism
- 7 References
- 8 Notes
- 9 External links
Ferenc Gyurcsány was born in Pápa, Hungary. He attended the Apáczai Csere János High School in Budapest for two years, then he left to his hometown Pápa to graduate. Ferenc Gyurcsány studied as a teacher and obtained his B.Sc. in 1984 from the University of Pécs. Then he studied economics at the same institution, getting his degree in 1990.
In 1981 he assumed function in the KISZ, the Organisation of Young Communists, where he mostly handled organizing student programs at the beginning. Between 1984 and 1988 he was the vice president of the organisation's committee in Pécs. Then between 1988 and 1989 he was the president of the central KISZ committee of universities and colleges. After the political change in 1989 he became vice-president of the organisation's short-lived quasi successor, the Hungarian Democratic Youth Association (DEMISZ).
From 1990 onwards, he transferred from the public to the private sector, working for CREDITUM Financial Consultant Ltd. until 1992, serving as director of EUROCORP International Finance Inc. in 1992. Gyurcsany then took the position of CEO at Altus Ltd., a holding company of which he was owner, from 1992–2002 and thereafter as Chairman of the Board. By 2002, he was listed as the 50th richest person in Hungary.
Return to politics
Ferenc Gyurcsány returned to politics in 2002 as the head strategic advisor of Péter Medgyessy, the previous Prime Minister of Hungary. From May 2003 until September 2004 Gyurcsány was a minister responsible for sports, youth and children.
He became the president of the MSZP in Győr-Moson-Sopron county in January 2004, serving until September 2004. In the summer of that same year it seemed that there were larger problems in his relationship with Prime Minister Péter Medgyessy, so he resigned as minister. In a week, problems in the coalition led to the resignation of Medgyessy, and MSZP voted Gyurcsány to become Prime Minister as he was acceptable for the coalition partner, Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ).
Gyurcsány was reappointed Prime Minister after the 2006 parliamentary elections, with his coalition taking 210 of the available 386 parliamentary seats, and making him the first Prime Minister to keep the office after a general election since 1990.
On 24 February 2007 he became the leader of his party (being the only candidate for the post) gaining 89% of the vote.
Since his 2006 election victory he has introduced austerity measures to tackle Hungary's budget deficit that had grown to become 10% of the GDP by the end of 2006. These austerity measures have been criticized by the main opposition party Fidesz on the one hand as being too harsh on the people, on the other hand by conservative economists for not reducing spending enough on social benefits, including pensions. Ferenc Gyurcsány has been the first prime minister since the fall of communism to try to introduce a health care reform in order to rationalize and modernize the national health care system. His efforts for a renewed and more efficient health care however, have been undermined mainly by his own party, as many Socialist Party members regard this reform as a threat to the communist era achievement of free and equal health care service to all.
Audio recording resulting in riots
On 17 September 2006, an audio recording surfaced, allegedly from a closed-door meeting of the Prime Minister's party MSZP, held on 26 May 2006, shortly after MSZP won the election. On the recording, Gyurcsány admitted "we have obviously been lying for the last one and a half to two years." ("Nyilvánvalóan végighazudtuk az utolsó másfél-két évet."). Despite public outrage, the Prime Minister refused to resign, and a series of demonstrations started near the Hungarian Parliament, swelling from 2,000 to about 8,000 demonstrators calling for the resignation of Gyurcsány and his government for several weeks. The Prime Minister admitted the authenticity of the recording.
On 1 October, the governing party suffered a landslide defeat in the local municipal elections. On the eve of the elections, before the results were known, President László Sólyom gave a speech in which he said that the solution to the situation is in the hands of the majority in Parliament.
Vote of confidence
As Prime Minister, Gyurcsány was a strong advocate of the South Stream pipeline project, which aimed to supply Russian gas directly to the European Union (EU); bypassing transit countries such as Ukraine. He signed the contract in Moscow just a week before the popular election in Hungary, which showed around 80% of the votes were against the government reforms.
On 6 October, Gyurcsány won a vote of confidence in Parliament, 207-165, with no coalition MP voting against him. The vote was public. Gyurcsány has been called to step down several times after this incident.
On 21 March 2009 Gyurcsány announced his intention to resign as Prime Minister. He stated that he is a hindrance to further economic and social reforms. Gyurcsány asked his party to find a new candidate for prime minister in two weeks. President László Sólyom stated that instead of a short term transational government ruling only until the 2010 elections, early elections should be held. In the search for PM György Surányi became the frontrunner candidate for the post however on 26 March he pulled out of the race saying he would not take the job. On 28 March Gyurcsány resigned from his position as party chairman, he was the leader of MSZP between 2007–2009.
Post-Prime Ministerial career
Conflicts with the Socialists
On 5 October 2010 Gyurcsány announced to the party executive that he is founding a platform named the Democratic Coalition within the party. He said he will organise “a broad, open social community for 1989 democrats”, and a political representation for them. The mood at the meeting was calm, but several party officials expressed disagreement with him. The Democratic Coalition held its inaugural meeting at 2 p.m. in the Szent István Park in the 13th District on 22 October 2010. Meanwhile, Socialist deputy chairman András Balogh told Népszava in an interview that the party performed poorly at the elections because Gyurcsány's cabinet made mistakes while in government, abandoned left-wing values and became complacent, and because of corruption. The former Prime Minister's group became the Hungarian Socialist party's seventh platform.
Balogh in occasion of an interview in November said socialists must reclaim the vote of the worker from the far right, and to the extent that Gyurcsány wants to build a liberal-centrist wing. he also stated the Democratic Coalition, sought to open a “big front” embracing liberal and certain conservative forces. He added that Gyurcsány would have to accept the party’s concept of renewal, which revolves around emphasising its left-wing credentials, if he wanted the party’s leadership to cooperate with him. Ominously, he called on party members who were directly responsible for the difficult situation of the Socialist party, and society in general, to quit the party. In January 2011 unnamed sources close to the party reported the Magyar Hírlap that Attila Mesterházy and the current Socialist leadership does not want Gyurcsány to get too strong within the party but neither do they want him to leave as a martyr.
László Puch, one of the most influential Socialist politicians, said that Gyucsány should found his own liberal party instead of breaking up his party. Platforms within the Socialist Party in May 2011 held a debate on whether the party should be developed as a cooperation between left-wing groups or a collective party welcoming non-leftist groups or politicians – a broader alternative to ruling Fidesz. The latter idea was only supported by the Democratic Coalition Platform. All seven platforms of the party agreed that the Socialists do not need a "chieftain", an “Orbán of the Left” but a team leader, István Hiller, the head of the Social Democratic Platform, told reporters during a break of the meeting. He dismissed Gyurcsány’s idea of embracing liberal and conservative trends. Gyurcsány’s model would make the party dysfunctional, he said.
Foundation of a new party
On 22 October 2011 Gyurcsány has announced he is leaving the Socialist Party and will set up a new parliamentary group after succeeding in persuading the necessary number of lawmakers to join him. The new Democratic Coalition party is to be a “Western, civic centre-left” formation with ten lawmakers, Gyurcsány announced on the first anniversary that its forerunner, the Democratic Coalition Platform, was set up. He said the reason why he had decided to leave the Socialists was because the party had failed in its efforts to transform itself. Socialist representatives strongly condemned Gyurcsány, who had only last week signed a pledge to stay on in the party. Gyurcsány in his speech branded the new constitution as “illegitimate”, and insisted that members and heads of the independent branches of state such as the constitutional court and the public prosecutor “exclusively serve Viktor Orbán”.
Mesterházy, the chairman of the MSZP responded that the Socialists would emerge stronger after Gyurcsány forms his own party and parliamentary group, because the opposition force’s lawmakers would no longer be engrossed in an internal struggle. Radical nationalist party Jobbik lawmaker Előd Novák told MTI that Gyurcsány’s new party was “anti-Hungarian”. He also said that Jobbik would now be in a position to provide the stable alternative to Fidesz. Parliamentary group leader of green party LMP, András Schiffer, told MTI his party had a policy of keeping its distance from the internal affairs of other parties. He added that LMP’s main enemy was the “Fidesz two-thirds [majority]“.
Gyurcsány started a hunger strike and three other members of the Democratic Coalition (Csaba Molnár, Péter Niedermüller and István Kolber) started on a week-long hunger strike in Kossuth tér on 9 September 2012. The demonstration, called Seven Days for Free Elections, was to protest the proposed voter registration plan. The former PM said that "Dramatic situations call for dramatic reactions, and strong political gestures are needed for apathetic voters to mobilise." The Parliament’s Office ordered hunger strikers to pay Ft 132,000 in usage fees for occupying the area outside Parliament.
Gabriella Selmeczi, spokesperson of Fidesz, commented the strike as "four middle-aged men bunking together in a tent in downtown Budapest – that doesn’t sound very exciting." László Botka, member of the MSZP and mayor of Szeged, said he was unwilling to comment the strike of Gyurcsány but added that the cause he is protesting against, namely the introduction of voter registration, was outrageous and strongly opposed by the Socialists, too. Jobbik MP Gergely Farkas said Ferenc Gyurcsány’s hunger strike outside Parliament is "phoney and hypocritical". He criticised Gyurcsány’s act because as a former prime minister "he is one of those responsible for the fact that a large number of people are hungry nowadays not only for a week but from week to week." Jobbik activists handed out hot soup in the same vicinity on 13 September 2012.
Gyurcsány said he had no plans to run for prime minister in 2014, Slovak news agency TASR reported on 16 September 2012. He also told "we have best chances to win if we manage to join forces with a wide circle of opposition forces. This joining of forces needs to be spearheaded by a person who is acceptable to all without serious compromises. It is common knowledge that there are differences in opinion between me and some opposition leaders." He added: "if there is a joint candidate, I will support him or her."
On 17 September 2012, during a mass protest after finishing hunger strike, Gyurcsány called on the Socialists and LMP to boycott the parliamentary debate of the election procedures bill and he asked his supporters to submit a petition against the pre-registration requirement. He reiterated that the requirement of pre-registration will exclude hundreds of thousands from the election. Most of those who only decide in the last few weeks that they would cast a vote generally support the opposition, he added. He also told that "if the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán wants to stay in power with the help of “legal tricks and machinations,” then "Hungary will lose its calm and the people will simply rebel". He invited democratic opposition parties and organisations to hold a joint event marking the anniversary of Hungary’s anti-Soviet 1956 revolution on October 23.
In September 2013, the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) have declined to sign an election deal with the DK and Gábor Fodor’s Hungarian Liberal Party because both parties presented excessive expectations compared to their social support. Attila Mesterházy told a forum held at the party headquarters, broadcast by commercial news channel ATV, that in order to win next year’s election, the Socialists need to win over uncertain voters. The party board decided that running with Gyurcsány would keep uncertain voters away, he added. Gyurcsány said the Socialists had proposed cooperation in four instead of nine constituencies, all of which were impossible to win. In addition they offered every 25th place on their party list and would have banned Gyurcsány himself from running either individually or on a list. Another request was that DK should not present a platform of its own. The party could not accept these conditions, the politician said.
On 14 January 2014, left-wing opposition parties agreed to submit a joint list for the spring general election, party leaders announced. The list will be headed by Socialist leader Mesterházy, who is the left alliance’s candidate for prime minister. He is followed by Gordon Bajnai and Ferenc Gyurcsány as third on the list. Under the agreement, the Socialists can field candidates in 71 individual constituencies, the E2014-PM 22 and DK altogether 13. Antal Rogán, leader of the Fidesz parliamentary group, said the result of the agreement is that the Hungarian left has been unable to nominate "a real prime minister candidate" or "present any new face," according to MTI.
Ferenc Gyurcsány is currently married to his third wife. He has two sons (Péter and Bálint) from his second marriage with Edina Bognár, and two children (Anna and Tamás) from his third marriage. His spouse is Klára Dobrev, whose maternal grandfather Antal Apró was Hungary's Minister of Industry in the 1950s–60s.
He got his nickname "Fletó"[i 1] from one of his teachers. While Prime Minister of Hungary, he did not pick up his paycheck, but instead, he donated it to varying organizations.
The origin of his wealth is regularly questioned by the media and political opposition. The weekly paper HVG writes about a biography of Gyurcsány: "[it] concludes that talent played a greater role than corruption in Gyurcsány's success. We have to question this claim. Not just because former functionaries are massively overrepresented among Gyurcsány's business partners, but also because, despite his enormous talent for business, Gyurcsány would never have got where he is today without making use of the contacts and support base of the former state party." József Debreczeni, the biographer in question, originally reached the conclusion "regarding party connections and performance, the latter has been more important".
Opposition MP Péter Szijjártó, as the head of a committee set up to investigate the origins of Gyurcsány's wealth, stated in his report that one of Gyurcsány's companies leased the former vacation site of the Hungarian government in Balatonőszöd and rented the site back to a state-owned company so that the rent paid by the government covered exactly the leasing fee during the first two and a half years of the ten-year lease term (1994–2004).
A person named "Gyurcsányi" was mentioned by Attila Kulcsár, the main defendant in the high-profile "K&H Equities" money laundering scandal in Hungary. The prime minister denied he had any connections with the case.
In an article published on 2 April 2012, Pécsi Újság called into question whether Gyurcsány submitted a diploma thesis. István Geresdi, Dean of the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Pécs told Pécsi Újság that they were unable to find Gyurcsány's diploma thesis. He further added that that Gyurcsány's thesis was the only missing work from that time period. On 3 April Gyurcsány published a page from his course record book that stated that he submitted and defended a college thesis. He also stated that he did not know where his own copy of his thesis was, but he would make efforts to locate and publish it. After two weeks, on 13 April he announced that he failed to find his copy of the thesis. On 27 April Hír TV, a government-leaning television channel announced that they have found evidence that Szabolcs Rozs, who was Gyurcsány's brother-in-law in 1984, submitted a college thesis at the same college and department as Gyurcsány, with a title identical to Gyurcsány's work, in 1980. Three days later, on 30 April Hír Tv announced that they have located and compared the reviews of both Rozs's and Gyurcsány's work, and found that based on the common errors and omissions, the two texts are likely to be identical, supporting the allegations of plagiarism.
He often displays himself in the role of an anti-fascist politician, who is strongly against the Hungarian radicalism and anti-semitism. However, he is the subject of criticism by his political opponents for the luxury villa of Rózsadomb in which he lives and is now the property of his recent wife, having been taken away from a Jewish family twice; first it was misappropriated when Hungary was under the rule of Arrow Cross Party, and then again during the time of the communist dictatorship of Mátyás Rákosi.
On 2 September 2004, he said in the Hungarian national television: "Who has a two-room-apartment, would in general deserve three; who has three, four; who has four, a house. Who has an eld..., olderly, elderly?... olderly [struggling with an unintended portmanteau] wife, a younger one; who has a badly behaved kid, a well-behaved. Of course, he would deserve." This triggered outrage from feminist organisations, women in general, and the opposition.
On 2 February 2005, at the birthday party of the Hungarian Socialist Party, for the sake of a joke, Gyurcsány referred to the players of the Saudi national football team as terrorists. Later he apologized, but the kingdom recalled its ambassador from Hungary for a time.
During the 2006 general election campaign, a video appeared where Gyurcsány danced as Hugh Grant in Love Actually. According to government officials, the spokesperson of the government asked Gyurcsány to dance, as they re-made most parts of the film as a special gift for the wedding of spokesman András Batiz. Opposition claimed that the video was made public on purpose, as part of the election campaign, to gain popularity for the PM among young adults.
After his return to politics, Gyurcsány was at first tight-lipped on his religious affiliation, leading many to assume that he is an atheist . In an interview aired on TV2 during the 2006 parliamentary election campaign, Gyurcsány said that as a teenager, he "took part in confirmation for about two years" and even considered becoming a priest. Since confirmation can only be taken once, some regarded this claim as a giveaway that he was not telling the truth, while others such as Catholic bishop Endre Gyulay supposed he meant he took part in preparations for a confirmation.
On 13 January 2009, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, travelled to Budapest to ask Gyurcsány about their agreement made in October, regarding the stabilization of Hungarian government spending.
As a Prime Minister, Ferenc Gyurcsány was said to be an advocate of the South Stream pipeline project, which is aimed to supply Russian gas directly to EU, bypassing transit countries such as Ukraine. He signed the contract in Moscow just week before a referendum at Hungary, which showed around 80% of the votes were against the government reforms.
- Jury says statistics should have been published
- Offensive expressions of Gyurcsány's speech
- Kulish, Nicholas (22 March 2009). "Hungary's Premier Offers to Resign". The New York Times.
- Hungarian PM offers to step down
- "'Obstacle' Hungary PM to resign". BBC News. 21 March 2009.
- Hungary's president favors early elections
- PM Gyurcsany resigns post as Socialist Party chairman
- Hungary Picks New Candidate for Premier
- Ferenc Gyurcsány Hungarian Embassy, Brasília
- 41-től 60-ig Origo
- Ha kell, a Magyar Rádió elé vonulnak a tüntetők HírTV
- Sólyom: Most az Országgyűlésnek van cselekvési lehetősége, Index, 2006-10-01
- Gyurcsany wins vote of confidence, Financial Times, 6 October 2006.
- Hungary's PM to quit amid tumbling popularity
- "SCENARIOS-What next as Hungary seeks new prime minister?". Reuters. 26 March 2009.
- Kész az MSZP országos listája.
- Gyurcsány to form Socialist faction
- Gyurcsány’s new faction forms today
- Senior Socialist sends guarded signals about ex-PM Gyurcsány
- Socialists reportedly to assess former PM’s party wing in February
- Top Socialist says former PM Gyurcsány should leave party rather than “ruining” MSZP
- Socialist platforms discuss future strategy
- Gyurcsány announces departure from Socialists, formation of new “Western, civic center-left” party
- Former PM Gyurcsány on week-long hunger strike over Fidesz voter registration plan
- Gyurcsány hunger strike party ordered to pay HUF 132,000 for occupying area outside Parliament
- Quotable: Gabriella Selmeczi on Gyurcsány’s hunger strike
- MSZP must nominate PM, name allies by late 2013, says Socialist board chairman
- Jobbik dubs Gyurcsány hunger strike “phoney” and “hypocritical”; trumps it with hot meal handouts
- Gyurcsány says “no plans” to run for PM in 2014
- Former PM urges opposition to step up protest against voter registration as Socialists plan to boycott debate
- "Opposition DK-Socialist election talks break down". 2013-09-10. Retrieved 2013-09-12.
- "Opposition leaders agree on joint list for general election". 2014-01-14. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
- "Quotable: Antal Rogan on the opposition coalition". 2014-01-14. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
- Not as good as the Lakatos, 19 June 2006, Heti Világgazdaság
- Debreczeni, József (2006). Az új miniszterelnök (The New Prime Minister) (Hungarian). Osiris Kiadó. ISBN 963-389-844-7.
- Szijjártó tíz tétele Gyurcsány gazdagodásáról, 8 November 2005, Index.hu
- Nerves Shredded Over Scandal Evidence Shredding Pestiside.hu
- ^ http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=379552925410509
- Original Hungarian text: Akinek kétszobás lakása van, az általában megérdemelne hármat, akinek három, az négyet, akinek négy, az egy családi házat. Akinek öreged..., öregecskedő, öregeskedő?... öregecskedő felesége, az fiatalabbat, akinek rendetlen gyereke, az rendesebbet. Persze, hogy megérdemelné. See video at YouTube
- Index.hu – Felháborodtak az asszonyok Gyurcsány kijelentésén (Women outrage at Gyurcsány's statement) 14 September 2004
- Index.hu – Áder bocsánatkérésre szólítja fel Gyurcsányt (Áder calls on Gyurcsány to apologize) 11 September 2004
- Jegyzékben tiltakoznak 'a szaúdi terroristák' Gyurcsánynál – index.hu
- Nyúlik a vita az "arab terroristákról" Magyar Hírlap
- Hungarian PM appears on Internet as Hugh Grant, eircom.net
- "Mokka", TV2, 2006-03-26
- Napi sajtószemle, Magyar Kurír, 2006-03-28 (Hungarian)
- Europe.view, The Economist, 4 January 2007
- Magyar Nemzet: "Gyurcsány elindult a schröderi úton?", 21 March 2008
- Not to be confused with the Spanish word fleto
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ferenc Gyurcsány.|
- Hungarian PM appears on Internet as Hugh Grant
- The page of the Demokratikus Koalíció party (Hungarian)
- His biography (Hungarian)
- The 100 richest people in Hungary, 2002., origo.hu. (Original URL) (Hungarian)
|Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports
|Prime Minister of Hungary
|Party political offices|
|Chairman of the Hungarian Socialist Party
|Chairman of the Democratic Coalition