Former Hungarian PM, Gordon Bajnai sets up think-tank.

Budapest, March 24 (MTI) – Gordon Bajnai, the predecessor of Viktor Orban as Hungary’s prime minister, is setting up a political think-tank called Home and Progress, Magyar Nemzet daily said on Thursday.

Bajnai stepped in as head of the government when Ferenc Gyurcsany, the Socialist prime minister, resigned in the spring of 2009 after his popularity nosedived.

Bajnai, who was not a member of the Socialist party, made it clear from the outset that he intended to head a largely technocratic government and, alongside his appointee as finance minister, Peter Oszko, put the country’s near-crippled finances in order under a programme agreed with the IMF and EU as part of a 20 billion euro bailout following the October 2008 economic crisis.

Bajnai was praised by international economists and investors for cutting several large spending items and restoring a sufficiency of confidence for government debt financing to return to the market in place of the IMF.

Bajnai’s new think-tank will include several familiar faces from his technocratic government, the paper said, without naming any sources. Oszko will serve as head of the think-tank’s supervisory body and Peter Balazs, the foreign minister in Bajnai’s administration, will serve on the same board.

Viktor Szigetvari will also be a presence familiar from past campaigns. Szigetvari, who was the Socialist party’s election guru, will help Bajnai run the outfit together with Bajnai’s one-time cabinet chief, Dora Hegedus.

Bajnai can count on a long period during which the current centre-right government retains power, and so will have plenty of time to build up the organisation, the paper said.

Bajnai’s people are of the opinion that the present leadership of the Socialist party and green party Politics Can Be Different are not up to the job of building a credible alternative to Fidesz, while Gyurcsany — who admitted to “lying day and night” about the public finances — lacks credibility, the paper said. Bajnai has deliberately stayed out of political and social conflicts, the paper added.

At the same time, they have been surprised that the Fidesz government has opened up so many battle fronts both at home and abroad, the paper said.