BUDAPEST, March 26 Hungary's ruling Socialists
scrambled to find a new prime minister on Thursday after the
frontrunner candidate, Gyorgy Suranyi, pulled out of the race
and two other candidates were rejected by their potential ally.
The Socialists continue talks with the Free Democrats, whose
votes they need to elect a new prime minister to replace Ferenc
Gyurcsany, who will step down next month to allow a new
government to handle the economic crisis. [nLQ392185]
Gyurcsany plans to organise a "constructive vote of no
confidence" in parliament, expected in mid-April.
A Socialist party source said Mihaly Patai, the chief
executive of UniCredit's local unit was among the names
considered. Media reports also mentioned Peter Felcsuti, Peter
Balazs and Antal Pongracz as possible candidates.
Here's what may happen next:
GYURCSANY STEPS ASIDE, SUCCESSOR SELECTED
Gyurcsany initiates "constructive vote of no confidence". At
least a fifth of the 386 members of parliament are needed to
propose the vote in parliament. Parliament then votes the
incumbent out and a successor in, without an election.
Gyurcsany's successor must be acceptable to the Free
Democrats, who have 19 seats and whose support is needed to have
parliament approve the candidate.
The Free Democrats want deeper cuts in taxes and state
spending to help the ailing economy. The Socialists, polling
16-17 percent support, may be reluctant to agree to deeper
social spending cuts as job losses mount and trade unions plan
If Gyurcsany formally resigns, the government's mandate
ends. If a new prime minister nominated by President Laszlo
Solyom is not approved by parliament within 40 days, Solyom has
the right to call an election.
PARLIAMENT DISSOLVES ITSELF
Parliament can also dissolve itself, with a simple majority
vote. In that case, a new election must be held within 3 months.
POSSIBLE CANDIDATES FOR PM
* MIHALY PATAI, 55, economist, chairman and CEO of the
Hungarian banking unit of UniCredit CRD.MI and chairman of the
Budapest Stock Exchange. Between 1988 and 1993 he was assistant
to a World Bank director in Washington. He headed the Hungarian
insurance arm of Allianz from 1996 to 2006. He speaks English,
German and Russian.
* PETER FELCSUTI, 59, is a renowned banker, chief executive
of the Hungarian arm of Raiffeisen International RIBH.VI and
chairman of the Hungarian Bankers' Association. He was a founder
of the local branch of Citibank, as well as Unicbank, which
changed its name to Raiffeisen. Speaks fluent English, Russian
and Spanish. Felcsuti rejected his name being put forward as
* PETER BALAZS, 67, economist, professor of the Central
European University's International Relations and European
Studies Department. He was the first commissioner to represent
Hungary in the European Commission in 2004, appointed by the
then ruling Socialist-led government. In the early 1990s he was
secretary of state in the Ministry of Industry in a conservative
government, later he served as ambassador in Denmark, Germany
and at the European Commission.
* ANTAL PONGRACZ, 62, economist, deputy CEO of Hungary's
biggest commercial bank, OTP OTPB.BU. He worked for several
years in the Finance Ministry. Later he had key posts in
commercial banks, headed the state lottery company between 1994
and 1998 and the national air carrier in 1998 and 1999. Pongracz
said he has not been contacted about the candidacy.
(Reporting by Krisztina Than/Marton Dunai/Sandor Peto)