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It is impossible to forecast accurately the outcome of the local elections. Nor is it clear how Gyurcsany's leaked speech to Socialist MPs will affect public opinion. But certain trends do emerge from a Median poll conducted for HVG over the past few weeks.

It is clear that party allegiance will play a bigger role in this
year's local elections than ever before. Hungarian voters' party
allegiance, already strong by international standards, grew stronger
between 2002 and 2006, as is well shown by people's expectations for
the outcomes of the mayoral elections. The proportion of people who
regard a mayor's party allegiance as a major influence on their
decision has risen from 20 per cent to 27 per cent. Voters for the
coalition parties are more convinced by the argument that „the current
mayor should stay" (most mayors are from one of the coalition
parties), while opposition voters are more likely to think that the
winning candidate should have „a past free of failures."

In villages, most of the mayoral candidates are independents, which
fact reduces Fidesz's chances of victory, since Fidesz is most popular
in smaller towns. Since the parliamentary elections, the popularity of
the government parties has fallen by 15 percentage points in unitary
authority towns and by 12 percentage points in other provincial
cities. Fidesz has thus taken the lead in the cities. But Budapest
appears to be sticking to its guns: though aggregate support for the
Socialists and Free Democrats has fallen 6 per cent, citizens of the
capital are, along with the over-60s, the only social group where
coalition voters are in a majority.

Fidesz has a clear lead in villages and provincial cities. This makes
it likely that they will win majorities in more county councils. It is
also likely that most Fidesz councillors will hang on to their jobs.
The question is whether mayors from one of the coalition parties – who
tend to be much more popular than the government itself – will be able
to hang on. Personal popularity is likely to be more important for
mayoral elections than for council elections, where most voters vote
on party lines. If this proves to be the case, there may be many cases
of cohabitation in the provinces, with Free Democrat or Socialist
mayors and opposition councils.

In Budapest, reigning mayor Gabor Demszky's lead over Istvan Tarlos
has fallen significantly since mid-September. Demszky's overall
support has fallen from 38 per cent to 31 per cent, while support for
Tarlos, an independent candidate with Fidesz backing, has risen from
25 per cent to 29 per cent. The result on the city council also looks
to be tight: 40 per cent of certain voters intend to vote for the
Socialists, 40 per cent for Fidesz, 10 per cent for the Free Democrats
and 6 per cent for the Hungarian Democratic Forum. Of the
extra-parliamentary parties, the far-right Hungarian Truth and Life
Party (MIEP) has a chance of passing the 5 per cent threshold. It
currently stands at 4 per cent.

ESZTER BAKONYI - GERGELY KARÁCSONY

hvg.hu English version

The Great Hungarian Reality Show

We are living through the worst crisis in the history of the Third Republic. Events have clearly caught the political elites by surprise, both in government and in opposition, just as in October 1956, the commemoration of which has just become an even bigger problem for the Government.

hvg.hu English version

Regrettable events

It was police passivity that allowed a series of demonstrations held in response to a private speech given by Ferenc Gyurcsany to become the centre of world attention. On a leaked recording of the speech, the Prime Minister acknowledged that the governing coalition had been focused entirely on political survival in the previous parliamentary cycle and that the government had lied in order to win the elections.

English version

Gyurcsany: Lies Speech

An audio tape has been broadcast of a private party speech given in May by Hungary's prime minister in which he admits his party lied to the public in order to win April's general election. These excerpts - which contain strong language - are translated from Ferenc Gyurcsany's official blog, Amoba.

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The TV under siege

Some 50 protestors have moved from Kossuth ter to protest in front of the Hungarian Television building. The protestors returned to Kossuth ter for reinforcement, and then returned to break down the building's front door. Police vans arrived at 11.30pm. The police have announced that they were launching an investigation into the attackers and would prevent anybody entering the television headquarters.

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Record of Gyurcsanys speech

A hijacker storms into the cockpit and threatens the crew with a gun. He screams that if they don't follow his orders, he'll shoot them. "If you shoot us, who will fly the aeroplane," asks the captain. "I don't think that far ahead," the pirate replies.

hvg.hu English version

Text message: There will be violence

Information gatherers from the company that provides security to a number of high-risk public institutions including Hungarian TV (MTV) were also among last night's crowds. Security company In-Kal's investigators warned the TV headquarters' security service in good time of the approaching violence, hvg.hu has learned. Thanks to the company, police were aware of the protesters' intentions before the siege began. Despite this, they did not move more officers into place.

hvg.hu English version

Spurned

The reporter who covered the Szabadsag ter demonstrations for rolling news channel HirTV was not allowed into Parliament. Zoltan Rudi, president of Hungarian TV (MTV), had the same TV station's crew escorted out of his channel's press conference. The Free Democrats are demanding an apology, while HirTV is expressing concern that its freedom to inform is being threatened.

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