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Monday, October 15, 2007

Hungary Referendum Gets Legal Clearance

Hungary's Constitutional Court yesterday gave legal clearance to the parliamentary opposition to push ahead with a referendum to reverse some of the government's spending cuts. The Budapest-based court ruled that voters can be asked to scrap university tuition fees as well as charges for doctor visits and hospital stays. The ruling means the opposition Fidesz party can now start collecting the 200,000 signatures per question to hold a nationwide vote.

According to press reports the opposition leader Viktor Orban is counting planning to try to use the referendum to bring down the government of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany. The measures in the austerity package involved cutting public jobs, raising taxes and slashing subsidies in an effort to reduce what was at that point the European Union's biggest budget deficit.

This is an economic and not a political blog, and in that sense it does not take sides in the internal political disputes of Hungary, but obviously - with the delicate situation which exists all over the EU 10 in economic terms - the last thing Hungary needs at this point in time is referendum or elections or any kind of political instability. What is needed is a common front from all parties to try to find a consensually grounded way out of the mess.

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