Hungary's PM wants anti-graft referendum

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BUDAPEST, Oct 8 (Reuters) Hungary's government, rattled by corruption charges, will hold a referendum on its plans to clean up politics if the opposition does not support new laws in parliament, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said today.

Gyurcsany last week promised legislation to clean up party and campaign financing, to strengthen conflict-of-interest rules and open politicians' wealth to scrutiny, but some of those laws would require a two-thirds majority and opposition backing.

The main opposition Fidesz party has said it does not support the changes, which come at a time when a former Socialist MP, Janos Zuschlag, has been charged with abusing funds while he was at the youth ministry.

''We are prepared that if we see that the opposition does not support (the laws)... then we will turn to the people,'' Gyurcsany told parliament.

The Socialists are well behind the main opposition Fidesz party in opinion polls after implementing tax hikes and spending cuts to reduce the country's huge budget deficit.

The anti-graft law package is an answer to criticism by Fidesz that corruption is endemic in relation to state funds.

Tibor Navracsics, head of the parliament group of Fidesz, said the anti-graft proposals were aimed at diverting attention from the Zuschlag scandal which he said cast a shadow on Gyurcsany, who was youth minister in 2003 and 2004.

''Creating transparency, the government should start that with itself,'' Navracsics said.

Cooperation in Hungary's deeply divided political scene has been in even shorter supply than usual since Gyurcsany was caught on a leaked tape admitting he had lied to win re-election in 2006 and Fidesz now quits the chamber whenever he speaks.

Reuters PD RS1900

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