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Europe

Gordon Bajnai elected as Hungary's new prime minister

Hungary's new prime minister plans to immediately introduce austerity measures and economic reforms and demand sacrifices from many Hungarians, including cuts to pensions and public sector pay.

Gordon Bajnai

Gordon Bajnai sees himself as a crisis manager

In Tuesday's ballot, 204 deputies in the 386-seat parliament voted in favor of Bajnai, 41, to become Hungary's new prime minister. He will take over from Socialist Ferenc Gyurcsany, who resigned on March 21. Gyurcsany said last month that a new interim government and a new prime minister were needed to turn the country's economy around.

Hungary is suffering its deepest economic crisis in nearly 20 years and has been one of the countries in Eastern Europe worst hit by the financial and economic crisis. Financial meltdown was averted only by a massive bailout package of international organizations last October.

Managing the crisis without playing politics

A policeman with a dog in front of several hundred demonstrators

Riot police kept demonstrators calling for early elections at bay

Bajnai , a wealthy businessman with no party affiliation, describes himself as "a crisis manager without political ambition."

Immediately after Tuesday's vote, he unveiled his new cabinet, which includes six new ministers. He said they were experts who, like himself, were free of party affiliations and would take over the key portfolios of finance, economy, social welfare and energy.

Bajnai was nominated after nine days of negotiations between the Socialists and the small liberal opposition Free Democrats party.

Center-right party wants early elections, not Bajnai

Hungary's largest opposition group, the center-right Fidesz party, did not participate in Tuesday's vote and has labeled the proposed interim government as "illegitimate." It is demanding that elections be brought forward from spring 2010.

Bajnai warned that elections are not the answer.

"As long as the majority of MPs support a government's austerity program, a crisis-management government is a better solution for Hungary than early elections," he said.

Bajnai has said he would not delay in introducing austerity measures and economic reforms and that this would require sacrifices from many Hungarians. Bajnai's planned austerity measures are likely to include cuts to pensions and public service employee salaries.

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