Hungary's PM to quit amid tumbling popularity

Hungary's Prime Minister said today he is resigning because of his government's low popularity amid a worsening financial crisis.

Ferenc Gyurcsany, of the ruling Socialists, told the party's congress that he considered himself a hindrance to further economic and social reforms.

Instead of early elections, lawmakers are likely to chose a new prime minister to be in place until parliamentary elections scheduled for mid-2010.

Gyurcsany said that he will officially notify parliament of his decision on Monday and called for a meeting of his party in two weeks to choose a candidate to head the new administration.

It was not clear if the candidate would be from the Socialists, a compromise candidate from another party or an independent. Gyurcsany said he intended to hold on to his position as the party's chairman, which would give him a say in choosing the candidate, who would then be proposed to parliament for a vote.

Gyurcsany became the prime minister in 2004 and won re-election in 2006. He has struggled to maintain a parliamentary majority since 2006 amid the deteriorating economic conditions.

Hungary has been badly hit by the global financial crisis and has received a $25.1bn (£17.4bn) loan from the International Monetary Fund and other institutions.

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