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The native form of this personal name is Bajnai György Gordon. This article uses the Western name order.
György Gordon Bajnai


Incumbent
Assumed office 
14 April 2009
President László Sólyom
Preceded by Ferenc Gyurcsány

Born 5 March 1968 (1968-03-05) (age 42)
Szeged, Hungary
Political party Independent
Alma mater Budapest University of Economic Sciences (now Corvinus University of Budapest)
Occupation Entrepreneur

György Gordon Bajnai (pronounced [ˈgordon ˈbɒjnɒi] born 5 March 1968, Szeged) is the seventh and current Prime Minister of Hungary. In March 2009, following Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány's announced resignation, Bajnai was nominated by the ruling MSZP party to become Hungary's next prime minister.[1] Bajnai became prime minister when the parliament passed a constructive motion of no-confidence against Ferenc Gyurcsány on 14 April 2009.[2]

Contents

Studies and student politics

Bajnai was raised in Baja, Hungary. He graduated from the Budapest University of Economic Sciences (now Corvinus University) International Relations Department in 1991. For his public and professional activities he was rewarded Pro Universitate Award.

As József Debreczeni wrote in his book The new Prime Minister, Ferenc Gyurcsány remembered Bajnai from common football matches, having long evening discussions and drinking beer in the late 1980s. Bajnai was not a KISZ (Kommunista Ifjúsági Szövetség) leader, like Gyurcsány (who was Vice-President of the communist youth organization in 1989), but he was active in youth-politics. In 1987, Bajnai organized a boycott of the University of Economics' canteen, and was chairman of the Independent Student Division.[3]

Entrepreneurial career

After earning his master's degree, Bajnai took a job at Creditum Financial Consulting Ltd (at the same time Ferenc Gyurcsány worked there as well). In 1993, he undertook an internship at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London. Later he also worked for Eurocorp International Finance Ltd (again under the directorship of Ferenc Gyurcsány).

Gordon Bajnai presenting a speech in Wachau

Between 1995 and 2000, Bajnai was the managing director of CA IB Securities Co., and was the Deputy Chief Executive Officer (at the same time when András Simor, now head of National Bank of Hungary, was the head of the company). Bajnai was involved in the management of introducing several major companies to the stock exchange.

Between 2000 and 2005, he was CEO of Wallis Rt., an investment company. His duty was to restructure the company, make it more efficient and to manage its investments. Wallis group member companies were at that time Graboplast Rt., Rába Rt., Elender Rt., Index.hu, Wallis Ingatlan, Wallis Auto Holding, Danubius Radio, Café Advertistment. Among the more than 100 Wallis-owned company a poultry processing firm, Hajdu-Bet went bankrupt during 2003, against all efforts by its management and owners. Many partners of Hajdu-Bet suffered serious losses during the time when the poultry market collapsed in 2003, Wallis group itself lost 10 billion forints (over 40 million Euros). There are news circulating about possible related suicides linked to the bankruptcy among farmers.

In 2003, the National Association of Managers selected Bajnai as the "Young Manager of the Year". In the same year, as the head of Wallis, he concluded the liquidation of a company called Hajdu-Bet, during which a great number of suppliers breeding geese suffered great losses. For several years Bajnai was strongly criticized for this.[4][5]

In 2005, he was the President of the Budapest Airport Inc., and member of the Supervisory Committee at Zwack Inc. He was member of the Corvinus University of Budapest Economic Council. He resigned all of his company posts and board-memberships, when he entered the government as government commissioner, responsible for EU funds and national development.

Political career

Gordon Bajnai with Barroso in Brussels.

Bajnai first received a government post in 2006. On July 1, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány's called on him to be the Government Commissioner for Development Policy. In this position, he maintained supervision over National Development Agency, that controls EU Funds to Hungary.

He became minister in July 2007, in the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development. After SZDSZ left the coalition government, in May 2008, he took over the newly-formed Ministry of National Development and Economy.

In March 2009, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány resigned, announcing that he would hand over his position to a new premier with a higher support of the parties of the Hungarian Parliament. The Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) opposed most candidates for the post proposed by the Hungarian Socialists. Although Bajnai was reluctant to give in, after a week, with no tangible results in sight, and being asked by the majority of party stakeholders, whos also assured him of their support of the needed austerity measures, he took the job. Securing the backing of both parties, Bajnai became prime minister in 14 April 2009.

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Prime Minister

The Hungarian Parliament elected Bajnai as Hungary's Prime Minister with 204 votes for, 8 abstentions. The remaining MPs did not vote.

In his first speech as PM, he promised drastic measures to stop the negative spiral of the Hungarian economy, and to ease the burden of the international crisis. He also stated that he would remain in power until he had the solid majority of Parliament behind his austerity package, but will stay no longer than a year.(Interview in FT) Live interview for CNBC in June 19 2009

Economic policy

Bajnai takes over an economy that is expected to contract by 6 percent this year and is kept afloat by a $25.1 billion IMF-led lifeline. Foreign investors are declining to finance Hungary's high budget and current account deficits, and the forint's weakness in recent months threatens hundreds of thousands of families who took out foreign currency mortgages. Bajnai must cut spending to rescue the budget, keep within IMF guidelines and regain investor confidence, and he will face dissent from every possible side.

Handling the ruling Socialists may be his most difficult task. He needs their votes but a sizeable section of the party views Bajnai with contempt because cuts in welfare spending would erode the party's traditional voter base. Analysts expect Bajnai to have limited time to act. The campaign for the spring 2010 election will get under way soon, cutting his influence. Bajnai said pensions, public sector bonuses, maternity support, mortgage subsidies, energy subsidies and public transport subsidies must be cut.

He has said structural reforms are also important, but has not said where and how he plans to implement those. Substantial savings are possible in public administration, health care and education, but Bajnai has not detailed plans in those areas. He has declared priorities only on spending cuts and has not released the rest of his programme.

Foreign policy

His first visit to abroad was in Brussels, where he debuted as Prime Minister. He made discussions with Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, President of the European Commission, and with Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Secretary-General of NATO. In April he met with Austrian PM Werner Faymann, in May, he attended the EU Partnership Summit in Prague. In May, he presented a speech on the Europe Forum, in Wachau, and in June, he attended the V4 summit in Krakow. He made a two day official visit to Israel, where he met Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu and the Opposition Leader, Tzipi Livni. He also visited the Palestinian Authority, where he met the Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad.

Gordon Bajnai with Tzipi Livni, Israel

The Nabucco pipeline's intergovernmental agreement between Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria was signed by five Prime Ministers (including Bajnai) on 13 July 2009 in Ankara.[6]

On 19 August, he met with Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, in Sopron. The event was the 20th anniversary of the Pan-European Picnic. In September he made a short official visit to Finland, where amongst others he met Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen.

On 10 September, he invited the Slovak PM Robert Fico to ease the tensions between Hungary and Slovakia. There were a clash of views between the two neighbors concerning the controversial amendment of the Slovak State Language Act. The two premiers expressed regret over the circumstances of a failed visit by President László Sólyom to Komárno on August 21 and agreed to accept all recommendations of the OSCE high commissioner on national minorities. Prime Ministers Gordon Bajnai of Hungary and Robert Fico of Slovakia signed a joint statement during their meeting in Szécsény. Published on the Hungarian government spokesman's website, the statement declares the two countries' common interest in easing political tension. Bajnai and Fico agreed to direct the attention of all political parties to the social risks of confrontation, and called upon the citizens of both countries to show tolerance and understanding. They agreed to take resolute measures against extremist groups, and fight against all forms of xenophobia, intolerance, chauvinism, nationalism and violence, and the exportation thereof to one another's country. The two premiers declared that bilateral relations should be based on confidence, transparency and a pragmatic and constructive bilateral dialogue. They agreed to use all forms and instruments of cooperation, including further prime ministerial meetings.[7]

Between 20–24 September, Bajnai made an official visit to the USA, where he met President Barack Obama, the UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon, he attended the Climate Conference of the UN. He visited The Wall Street Journal's editorial office. Amongst others he had discussions with George Soros, Charles Gati, and major U.S. financiers and investors, he closed the day's trading at the New York Stock Exchange.

In early October, Bajnai made a visit to the United Kingdom. He attended talks with Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Gordon Brown and gave a public lecture at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Between 18–19 October, he made a short official visit to Paris, where he met president of France Nicolas Sarkozy, PM Francois Fillon, and many French investors.

Hungary will send more troops to Afghanistan in line with new US strategy to enhance involvement there, Bajnai announced at a meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden in the White House on 4 December 2009. The pledge will be made in several steps during 2010 and Hungarian troops will mainly serve in logistics and training operations, on top of helping to secure elections in Afghanistan, Bajnai told journalists after the talks. He added that Hungary's budget will not have to be amended to accommodate the increased involvement, as the necessary extra funding can be met from budget reserves. The government will keep to the original agreement by the Hungarian parliament, under which the number of troops stationed abroad should not exceed 1,000, Bajnai said. He said some regrouping will be necessary in order to meet this requirement, but commitment in strategic missions should be retained.

Personal life

Bajnai is married, but is separated from his wife. They have two children. Bajnai has one child from his partner with whom he has lived since 2004.

Bajnai has played soccer from early childhood; he is currently one of the players of Hungarian football club Építők SK. Bajnai plays as a goalkeeper. According to the team's homepage the Prime Minister was the Footballer of the Year in 2001 at the club.

Honors

In 1994 he was awarded Pro Universitate. In 1999 he was voted one of the 30 most promising business Central-Eastern European executives by the journal Central European Business Review. In 2003, the National Association of Managers selected Bajnai as the "Young Manager of the Year". 2006 Officer's Cross Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary (Civic Order of Merit) as an acknowledgement for his exceptional professional and company management work and his achievements in the area of company management culture development.

References

Political offices
Preceded by
Mónika Lamperth
Minister of Local Government
2007–2008
Succeeded by
István Gyenesei
Preceded by
Ferenc Gyurcsány
Prime Minister of Hungary
2009 – present
Succeeded by
Incumbent

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