March 25 (Reuters) - Gyorgy Suranyi, who has emerged as frontrunner to be Hungary’s next prime minister, is a former central banker who earned a distinguished reputation abroad and is familiar with economic crisis management at home.
Hungary’s opposition Free Democrats (SZDSZ), whose votes are vital to elect a new premier, said on Wednesday that Suranyi was acceptable to them to replace Ferenc Gyurcsany, who is quitting to allow a fresh leader to tackle the financial turmoil.
The ruling Socialists, who have a minority in parliament, are seeking agreement with opposition parties, mainly the Free Democrats and the Democratic Forum (MDF), to choose a new leader. Talks resume later on Wednesday.
Here are some facts about frontrunner Suranyi:
* The 55-year-old regional head of Intesa Sanpaolo SpA of Italy (ISP.MI) and Chairman of Intesa’s Hungarian unit CIB Bank, political analysts say Suranyi is well-equipped to handle Hungary’s worst economic recession since the early 1990s.
* He was central bank governor twice, starting his second term in 1995 when Hungary launched a package of measures which he co-authored to cut huge budget and current account deficits, and save Hungary from defaulting on its debts.
Two years later the economy was on a track of balanced growth near five percent.
* In 1996, Euromoney named Suranyi as the central banker of the year in Central and Eastern Europe.
* The soft-spoken and modest banker earned the reputation of a crisis fighter, and has never been afraid to speak his mind. At an economic conference earlier this month, he criticized the government and the central bank in the same sentence, blaming them for the woes of the economy and the currency.
* Under his second term as central bank chief, which ended in 2001, Suranyi had tense relations with the then ruling Fidesz-led conservative coalition and he cannot rely on the support of opposition Fidesz in parliament now either.
* Suranyi is married, with two children.
Reporting by Sandor Peto