Violent clashes hit Budapest after PM is exposed as 'liar'

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The Independent Online

A leaked recording that caught Hungary's Prime Minister admitting the government had lied about the economy - keeping it afloat through "tricks" and relying on "divine providence" - has led to clashes outside parliament in Budapest and calls for his resignation.

Last night the number of protesters had grown into the thousands for a second day. Riot police were pelted with bottles and cobblestones by a crowd demanding Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany's dismissal.

A few hundred pro testers marched to the nearby headquarters of state television, demanding to be allowed to proclaim their demands on a live broadcast. Police used tear gas and water cannons to repel dozens of mostly young men who stormed the building's main entrance, setting it ablaze.

The tape was made at a closed-door meeting in late May, weeks after Mr Gyurcsany's government became the first in post-communist Hungary to win re-election.

It seemed to confirm the worst accusations leveled at him by the center-right opposition during the campaign - that Hungary's state budget was on the verge of collapse and that MrGyurcsany and his ministers were concealing the truth in an effort to secure victory.

Adding spice to the scandal, Mr Gyurcsany's comments were full of crude remarks and called into doubt the abilities of some of Hungary's most respected economists. "We screwed up. Not a little, a lot," Mr Gyurcsany was heard saying. "No European country has done something as boneheaded as we have."

"I almost died when, for a year and a half, we had to pretend we were governing. Instead, we lied morning, evening and night," he told his fellow Socialists.