Insight Central Europe News

27-10-2006

Hungary's prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany continued to brush off right-wing protests against his government, including the riots that marred the 50th anniversary of the country's anti-Soviet uprising. Hungary's cabinet said this week it would stand by the embattled prime minister, who blamed the opposition for the riots. More than 150 people were injured disturbances on Monday, the day of the anniversary. Police used rubber bullets, water cannon and teargas to disperse rioters, who briefly commandeered one of the tanks being used for the commemorations.

Right-wing parliamentary deputies in Poland began discussing proposals which opponents say will lead to a total ban on abortion. Deputies from the far-right ultra-Catholic League of Polish Families, a member of the ruling coalition, want to change the Polish Constitution to embrace the right to life "from the moment of conception", effectively outlawing abortion at all stages of pregnancy. At present Polish law only allows abortion in cases of rape, incest, danger to the mother's life or irreversible deformity of the foetus.

The Czech government approved new measures this week to combat corruption, including a special hotline to allow citizens to report corruption cases. The programme, launched in cooperation with the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, comes after a spate of high profile cases involving the misuse of public funds. Interior Minister Ivan Langer said the measures, to be introduced gradually over the next few years, would introduce stiffer punishments for public officials guilty of corruption and establish special tribunals. A recent opinion poll revealed that 66 percent of Czechs believe they live in a corrupt state.

Analysts in Slovenia said the poor showing of Prime Minister Janez Jansa's right-of-centre Slovenian Democratic Party in last weekend's local elections was due to public dissatisfaction over the sluggish pace of reform. While the party was the strongest performer in Sunday's election, the result of 16.7 percent was far below that forecast in opinion polls. When he came to power two years ago Prime Minister Jansa promised to cut red tape and taxes, simplify the tax system and speed up privatisation. However, so far his government has failed to privatise any major companies and has said taxes will be cut very gradually.

And in Slovakia the leader of the far-right Slovak National Party, a member of the governing coalition, said he was opposed to naming a Danube embankment in the capital Bratislava after Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the founding father of Czechoslovakia. Slovak National Party leader Jan Slota said he opposed the plan because Masaryk had not recognised the Slovak nation or the Slovak language. A petition against the plan has so far attracted just 150 signatures. Slovakia was ruled by Hungary until 1918, when it became part of the new state of Czechoslovakia.

27-10-2006

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