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New Premier Named In Hungary

November 23, 1988

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) _ Miklos Nemeth, a Harvard-trained economist, was appointed today to succeed Communist Party leader Karoly Grosz as premier.

Veteran economic reformer Reszo Nyers, like Nemeth a member of the ruling Communist Party Politburo, was named to the newly created post of minister of state for the economy.

The new appointments, to be approved by parliament Thursday, were announced at a news conference by Gyoergy Fejti, secretary of the Communist Party’s policy-setting Central Committee.

Grosz announced last month he intends to resign as premier by the end of December in order to concentrate on his position as Communist Party chief. He was appointed to the post in May to replace leader Janos Kadar.

Nemeth, 41, a highly trained economist, is a graduate of Budapests’s prestigious Karl Marx University and was a visiting student at Harvard.

He is expected to guide Hungary into a period of unpopular austerity, during which he will be able to tap the greater political experience of Nyers, who has a more pronounced profile as a political reformer.

Nyers’ appointment completed a political comeback.

The father of Hungary’s pioneering economic reforms in the 1960s, Nyers was dropped from the ruling party Politburo in 1974, when reforms were curbed. He was renamed to the body in May when Grosz succeeded Kadar.

Earlier rumors had tapped the Politburo’s leading political reformer, Imre Pozsgay, as a possible premier.

But Pozsgay told reporters today he would not get the post.

Pozsgay, a leading reformer brought to the Politburo when Grosz took over as party leader in May, told a news conference earlier today, ″I personally see no obstacles in principle to the existence of a multiparty system.″

″There has developed a genuine need (for pluralism), also a movement on the part of society itself that is unstoppable,″ he said.

″It would destabilize the country and lead to a potential catastrophe if (the leadership) tried to stall this effort,″ he said.

In December, Parliament is due to adopt legislation regulating the establishment of independent groups, associations and unions. The new laws accept a multiparty system in principle. However, government leaders say further legislation is necessary to determine the establishment and function of parties. Those laws are not expected before 1990.

Dozens of independent groups and movements have sprung up over the past year, many with highly political platforms. Until last week, however, none had gone so far as to declare themselves a party.

On Friday, the independent Smallholders’ Party, which headed a coalition government before the Communists assumed power in 1948, announced that it was resuming its activites. Hungarian news media gave no publicity to the move, in sharp contrast with its new policy of openness.

Pozsgay said the government would not exert repressive measures against the new party. But he said that until the legal framework for the establishment of parties has been created, the government would not provide publicity for it.

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