Excerpts from leaked recording of Hungarian prime minister

Excerpts from the leaked recording of Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany's comments in May to Socialist parliamentary deputies about the state of the Hungarian economy and the fact that the government had lied to the electorate:

"... There isn't much choice (about having to make reforms). There isn't because we screwed up. Not a little, a lot. No European country has done something as boneheaded as we have. It can be explained. Plainly, we lied throughout the last year-and-a-half, two years, reports AP.

"It was totally clear that what we are saying is not true. We are so far beyond the country's possibilities that we could not imagine earlier that the joint government of the Hungarian Socialist Party and (Alliance of Free Democrats) will ever do it. ...

"And at the same time, we did nothing for four years. Nothing. You cannot quote any significant government measure we can be proud of, other than at the end we managed to bring the government back from the brink. Nothing. If we have to give account to the country about what we did for four years, then what do we say? ...

"The deal is that in the shortest term we have no choice. (Finance Minister Janos) Veres is right. We can fiddle around a little bit, but not much. The moment of truth will quickly arrive. Divine providence, the abundance of cash in the world economy and hundreds of tricks which you clearly don't need to know about helped us survive. That's it. No more. ...

"Reform or bust, there is nothing else. And when I say bust, I am talking about Hungary, about the Left, and I very frankly say to you, I am also talking about myself. ...

"I almost died when for a year and a half we had to pretend we were governing. Instead, we lied morning, evening and night. I don't want to do it anymore. ...

"What we could do secretly during the past months so that no documents would appear in the last weeks of the election campaign showing what we were up to, we did. We kept the secret ... knowing that if we won, we would have to really get going, (because) we've never had such a problem. ...

"I think there are going to be conflicts, kids. Yes, there will be. There will be demonstrations. They can protest in front of parliament. Sooner or later they grow bored and go home. This can only follow through if you believe in the essentials and there is agreement on the essentials. ...

"It's a fantastic thing to be in politics. Fantastic. It's fantastic to lead a country. I was personally able to get through the last 18 months because I had one ambition which drove me _ to give back the Left the faith that it can win. That it doesn't have to lower its head in this damn country. That it doesn't have to soil its pants because of (opposition leader) Viktor Orban and the Right and can learn to measure itself not against them but against the world. This is what gave me faith, that it was worth doing this. It was a great thing. I loved it. It was the best part of my life. ...

"It's not reform when only others change. It's not reform to repeat the mantra to the people. Reform is for us, too, to be willing to re-evaluate everything we thought and did until now. Compared to this, the austerity of the first months is just simple compulsion, I must admit. You're mistaken if you think you have a choice. You have none. Neither do I. At most, our choice today is whether we try to influence what is happening or the whole thing topples on us. ..."