Hungary's center-right opposition parties made substantial gains in nationwide elections on Sunday, following two weeks of protests over Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany's admission that he lied about the economy.
Shortly after the polls closed in the municipal elections, Hungary's president made a broadcast speech in which he accused Gyurcsany of undermining trust in democracy and appeared to suggest parliament should replace him.
But the Socialist prime minister, who has resisted weeks of demands that he step down, vowed on Sunday to continue reforms and austerity measures despite the electoral setback for the coalition parties.
"I would like to remain the prime minister who continues these policies," Gyurcsany said, adding that the leader of the Socialists' coalition partner, the Alliance of Free Democrats, assured him of their support.
He had said he wanted to run for chairmanship of his party early next year but, asked on Sunday about that plan, he said, "Everything has to be rethought."
The elections were seen as a chance for voters to judge the government after the leak of a tape on which Gyurcsany admitted repeatedly lying to the country about the economy.
Two days of riots two weeks ago -- attributed mainly to soccer hooligans but seemingly rooted in the anti-government mood -- left nearly 150 police and dozens of participants injured.
Large crowds of protesters have demonstrated peacefully since then. And at least 10,000 people were outside parliament on Sunday night, demanding Gyurcsany's resign.
The National Election Office said the turnout of 53 percent on Sunday was Hungary's highest for municipal elections since 1990 return to democracy. The previous record was 51 percent in 2002.
According to preliminary results released by the election office, with some 88 percent of the votes counted, the opposition Fidesz-Hungarian Civic Union seemed poised to win the mayorships in at least 15 of Hungary's 23 largest cities, as well majorities in the county councils in 18 of the 19 counties.
The election office said nearly definitive results were expected by yesterday afternoon.
Socialists were seen retaining power in most of Budapest's 23 districts and Budapest Mayor Gabor Demszky -- supported by the two-party government coalition -- was likely to win his fifth consecutive term since the 1990 return to democracy.
Fidesz leader Viktor Orban said the results demonstrated that citizens had voted for Gyurcsany's ouster.
"Hungarian voters tonight have replaced the prime minister in office," Orban said at his party's headquarters.
"We call on the Socialist Party to refrain from going against the will of the people and to carry out the voters' decision," he added.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
‘LIKE A CASSANDRA’: Chinese residents of Prato went into self-imposed lockdown and warned their Italian neighbors about what was coming, but were ignored In the storm of infection and death sweeping Italy, one big community stands out to health officials as remarkably unscathed — the 50,000 ethnic Chinese who live in the town of Prato. Two months ago, the country’s Chinese residents were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, the butt of insults and violent attacks by people who feared that they would spread the coronavirus through Italy. However, in the Tuscan town of Prato, home to Italy’s single biggest Chinese community, the opposite has been true. Once scapegoats, they are now held up by authorities as a model for early,