From Labour Focus on Eastern Europe, No. 60, 1998.|
New Striker in Old
Parliamentary Elections in Hungary, May 1998
The election results
elections of Hungary in 1998 resulted in two major changes in the power structure of political parties.
First, the elections were won by a new Right wing coalition that emerged from the reconstruction of previous
ruling parties of the early 1990s. In this sense, the Hungarian results followed the Polish example of
1997, when the ruling post-Communist Social Democratic party was replaced by a revitalised Solidarity
coalition. Second, first time in the post-Communist era, an explicitly far Right party entered parliament,
similarly to the East German state elections just a month before the Hungarian elections.
elections were won by the Right despite the fact that the party that won the most votes was the Hungarian
Socialist Party (MSZP)--the only parliamentary force of the Left. Just like in 1994, MSZP won 33 per
cent of the popular votes(1). Due to the highly disproportional electoral system, however, this 33 per
cent was enough for 54 per cent of the parliamentary mandates in 1994, but only for 35 per cent of the
seats in 1998. Due to the fragmentation of the Right in 1994, MSZP then won nearly all individual constituencies.
By 1998, the unity of the Right prevented them to win any seats in seven counties (Gyõr-Moson-Sopron,
Vas, Veszprém, Zala, Csongrád, Bács-Kiskun and Pest).
MSZP remained dominant in the traditional industrial
districts of the North, mid-West and South-West, and also in the poorer agricultural zones to the East
of the river Tisza (Wiener 1998: 12). The Independent Smallholders Party (FKGP) became a leading force
in the regions formerly dominated by the rich peasantry, and the Alliance of Young Democrats--Hungarian
Civic Party (Fidesz-MPP) carried the conservative West, mainly by attracting the former voters of the
Christian Democratic People's Party (KDNP) and the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ). Due to fatal infighting
of several years, KDNP as a party did not qualify at all for the new parliament, while SZDSZ was diminished
into a small party.
In the first round, just slightly more than half of the electorate participated
in the elections. This ratio was much lower than the roughly two thirds participation of 1990 at the
first post-Communist "free" elections and of 1994 when participation was stimulated by the need to overthrow
an apparently rotten, reactionary coalition. In 1998, political scientists suggested that a low turnout
would benefit the Socialists who possess the most disciplined membership and constituency. In as much
MSZP repeated their 1994 score, the forecast was right. However, the low turnout did not prevent the
entry into parliament of the far right Party of Hungarian Justice and Life (MIÉP), and the emergence
of a Right wing coalition supported by a disciplined constituency ready to vote for other parties in
case their leaders asked for that.
The entry of MIÉP was not forecast by political analysts and, according
to the rules of the house, they were not meant to form a parliamentary faction with only 14 representatives.
Before 1993, MIÉP constituted a Right wing in the then ruling Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF). When
some foreign politicians, including Tom Lantos of the US Congress, made it clear that such a tendency
is not accepted by the international community, their leader István Csurka was expelled from MDF and
some new rules were adopted to prevent them to form a faction and to re-enter parliament in 1994. These
new rules required at least 15 deputies to form a faction (2) and at least 5 per cent of the popular
votes to be able to enter parliament. In 1998, however, MIÉP passed the 5 per cent limit with ease and
the Constitutional Court decided that despite having only 14 deputies in parliament they must be allowed
to form a faction. Thus, first time in the history of the new parliamentary pluralism in Hungary, the
final result of the elections was determined not exclusively by the electorate but also by the Constitutional
Table 1. Election results in Hungary in 1994 and 1998 (number of mandates)
SZDSZ 70 24
MDF 37 17
FKGP 26 48
Independents/Others 2 1
The Economist 1998: 25
The failure of the Socialist-Liberal coalition
Until just a few
weeks before the elections, MSZP seemed to be a likely winner of the race, which made many observers
blame the weak campaign for the defeat the party suffered "unexpectedly". Most Socialists were confident
or even complacent during the campaign because of the improving macroeconomic figures of the country
and the substantial lead of MSZP in the opinion polls. The actual unity of the Right wing parties became
apparent only in the last weeks or even days of the race, which also showed that the recovery of the
popularity of MSZP in 1997 and early 1998 was only temporary.
The recovery of the Socialists, similarly
to that of the macroeconomy, was indeed remarkable, but it did not completely eliminate the impact of
two major blows the popularity of the ruling coalition suffered between 1994 and 1998. These blows were
inflicted by the stabilisation measures of 1995 and the corruption scandal of 1996. MSZP lost and FKGP
gained popularity in the first case, while Fidesz-MPP picked up what was lost by MSZP in the second case.
SZDSZ was hit by both factors, which accelerated the continuous decline of the party that did not stop
In March 1995, the stabilisation package of the Horn-government was introduced by
finance minister Lajos Bokros. Despite being a minister only for a year, and leaving the country soon
after, Bokros and his package was the basis on which the evaluation of the Socialist-Liberal government
was possible in 1998. The Socialists claimed that the Bokros-package was the only way to sort out the
financial problems of the country in a hostile international environment. The implementation of the harsh
austerity measures restored the international respectability of Hungary and her government, which accelerated
the inflow of foreign capital and lowered the interest rates on the foreign debts of the country. When
Bokros left office in March 1996, Hungary could sign an agreement with the IMF again and became member
of OECD. In the second half of the four year governmental period, economic growth was significant, and
the workers and public sector employees experienced some increase in their real incomes too.
has opposed the Bokros-package ferociously. They claimed restriction was unnecessary and the crawling
devaluation of the forint--that was implemented also in 1995 March--caused more harm than good by boosting
inflation. Bokros also wanted to cut much of the social benefits inherited from the Kádár era, which
was--though temporarily--obstructed by the Constitutional Court (3), and declared inhuman by the Right.
In a number of issues, the moderate Right and the radical Left shared their criticism of the neo-liberal
economic and social policies of the government.
The Bokros-package was controversial enough, but the
popularity of the ruling parties was even more damaged in Autumn 1996, when a major corruption scandal
surfaced. The affair was related to the privatisation revenue owed by the national privatisation agency
(ÁPV Rt.) to the local governments. The leaders of ÁPV Rt. hired a private lawyer to broker deals between
the agency and the municipalities, and her oversized "success fee" was tapped by financial agents close
to the two ruling parties. Horn sacked his privatisation minister Tamás Suchman and the entire board
of directors of ÁPV Rt. but the belief in the morality and expertise of MSZP and SZDSZ was nevertheless
Despite these two blows, and the impact of the crisis of Socialists in Yugoslavia and Bulgaria
in early 1997, the popularity of MSZP started to recover and the party was expected to win the elections
again. Indeed, they won the most popular votes in the first round of the elections and managed to increase
the number of their voters to nearly two million by the second round. This relative success, however,
could not compensate for the losses suffered by their coalition partner, the Free Democrats.
slogan of SZDSZ claimed that we just need "to keep the right direction". This phrase was nothing but
a failure when the majority of the population believed that, with corruption in the government offices
and increasing social differences, the country was not going to the right direction. The credibility
of SZDSZ was also damaged by the rapidly deteriorating public security in Budapest and other major cities
under a Free Democrat interior minister.
The two ruling parties believed that it was enough to present
the improving international acceptance of the country (NATO and EU integration) and the favourable macroeconomic
figures of 1997 and 1998. They failed to understand that the electorate needed something more--a vision
about a different society that provides hope for those hit by the repeated austerity packages. The pragmatic
attitude of MSZP ceased to be a virtue, and the lack of vision became apparent when the Socialists were
facing the ambitious Young Democrats at the election campaign.
The reconstruction of the Right
Fidesz-MPP belonged to the smaller parliamentary parties in both 1990 and 1994. Their popularity was
temporarily inflated in 1992 to about 40 per cent, following the rapid disillusionment from the then
ruling MDF. Both the political situation of the country and the profile of Fidesz had to change until
the party became the main ruling political force of Hungary.
Out of the many changes of the recent
years, most foreign observers highlighted the long journey Viktor Orbán (35), the leader of Fidesz-MPP
since its foundation, had already made in his political convictions since 1988. According to Tina Rosenberg
of The New York Times, Orbán stood a Thatcherite platform in the early 1990s, while now he is economically
a populist and in social issues he represents a conservative, Catholic line (Népszabadság 1998: 3).
In the 1989-1990 period, Fidesz was presented as a liberal party whose main concerns were human rights
and environmentalism. Orbán, just like his friends in the Fidesz faction of the first post-Communist
parliament, walked to the meetings of the parliament in jeans. "Yet he turned Fidesz into a party with
mass appeal by sounding anything but liberal. His economic pronouncements are tinged with demagoguery:
taxes and inflation will be lower, he promises; growth faster; welfare more generous. He also champions
the ethnic Hungarians living outside Hungary in ways that unnerve Romania and Slovakia, where most of
the live. And he has rattled the EU: for the sake of those Hungarian cousins, he has sad, Hungary should
not join the EU's borderless Schengen area until they are in it too. And all good Hungarians should,
like him, have three children." (The Economist 1998: 25)
In 1993, Fidesz and SZDSZ--together with
the Entrepreneur's Party and the Agrarian Union--formed a shadow coalition expecting the rise of a Liberal
bloc. A year later it became clear that Hungary will never have a purely liberal government. For Orbán's
team the only way to government office was to become part--and if possible, a leading force--of a broad
Right. "Budapest is worth a mass" could have been Orbán's philosophy that guided him in building a conservative
Hungarian Civic Party on the ruins of the liberal Fidesz.
Orbán's party started to move to the Right
from the Liberal centre as early as 1993, well before the 1994 elections, when Viktor Orbán got rid of
the other popular leader of the party, Gábor Fodor. Fodor was followed by other liberal--or left liberal--politicians
while Orbán invited more and more ex-MDF and ex-KDNP politicians into the party. The age limit of the
party was abolished and the name was amended to be acceptable for a broader Right wing constituency.
The strengthening of the social basis of the new Right wing coalition was due the awakening of the new
entrepreneur class. Back in 1990, MDF was the party of the domestic entrepreneurs. The meltdown of MDF
by 1994 was a political expression of the critical condition of this small business class. The MSZP-SZDSZ
coalition pursued the policies of an alliance between the multinational business sector and the domestic
organised labour. The campaign of Fidesz-MPP promised compensation for the domestic middle class by restoring
their benefits abolished by the Horn-government (4), diminishing the influence of labour in national
politics, and restricting the positions of foreign capital in the Hungarian economy.
At the 1998 elections,
Fidesz-MPP was campaigning on the basis of civic values which was also expressed in the popularisation
of the new and full name of the party: Fidesz-Hungarian Civic Party. The Hungarian equivalent of "civic"
(polgári) incorporates the meaning of citoyen and bourgeois, and also that of civilian. Thus, the widespread
use of this word left a good deal of doubt about the proper meaning of the intentions of Fidesz-MPP,
nevertheless it was good enough to crystallise the strengthening class consciousness of the new entrepreneurs
and the conservative minded civil servants.
Orbán managed to increase his popularity among students
and other young people by promising greater material security and better life prospects for them. Since
Horn pursued a neo-liberal economic policy, for Fidesz-MPP it was easy to expropriate traditional socialist
demands and turn them against the Socialist-Liberal coalition, claiming that a civic government would
achieve what the left of centre parties had promised (Bayer 1998: 23)
As a clear indication of his
political objectives, Orbán made an electoral alliance with MDF more than one year before the elections.
When KDNP was splitting, the Fidesz-MPP faction incorporated the liberal wing of KDNP that later formed
the Christian Democratic Alliance (KDSZ). In addition, following the agricultural demonstrations of early
1997, and particularly the land debate of 1997 Autumn, a tacit co-operation emerged between Fidesz-MPP
and the Smallholders too. This slow convergence turned into an open agreement a few days before the second
round of the 1998 May elections, and developed not just into the formation of a common government, but
also a pact on the subsequent municipal elections and the presidential election of 2000.
campaign, Orbán rejected any open co-operation with the tiny Hungarian Democratic People's Party (5)
(MDNP) too, but this approach changed in June when the new government was being formed. He was completely
surrounded by the remnants of the old Antall-brigade. Though it was Fidesz-MPP that collected much of
the Right wing vote, it looked as if a reunion of Antall's team hired a new captain to restore chances
to qualify for the Premier League. And it worked. Orbán and some other Fidesz politicians provided a
fresh media face for more conservative social and political groups.
The overall Right wing revival
benefited not only the moderate and populist Right forces but also the neo-Nazi Hungarian Party of Justice
and Life (MIÉP). Though the activists of MIÉP co-operated with other Right wing forces on the local level,
they had no chance in becoming part of the new government. Nevertheless, they voted for the programme
of the Orbán government when it was put before the parliament in early July.
The new government:
personnel and policies
Following the announcement of the election results, president Árpád Göncz
invited Viktor Orbán to form a coalition government. For him it was obvious to start negotiations with
MDF and then with FKGP, though the possible alliance with the latter was denied before the public until
the last moment. The coalition agreements with the two parties were signed at Hotel Gellért--a building
with notorious Right wing political legacy (6).
The most apparent feature of the new government is
that the structure of government institutions and the distribution of portfolios is dominated by party
political horse trading. On the side of "human areas", a fragmented structure of ministries emerged,
while on the side of the economy some highly concentrated, strong offices were constructed. (The ministry
of the economy was created on the basis of the former ministry of industry and trade by adding certain
authorities from the previous ministries of finance and labour. Agriculture, previously a single portfolio,
now captured regional development too.) From this distribution of forces we can expect that the ministries
of culture, education, health etc. will be fighting their struggles for more resources individually against
the strong economic ministries with less success than before.
In certain cases, the re-organisation
was justified by "following a Western pattern". Thus Orbán established a ministry of the national cultural
heritage, explicitly on the pattern of the short-lived ministry established by British Prime Minister
John Major in 1992. Also similarly to John Major, Orbán abolished the ministry of labour, and distributed
its authorities to the ministries of the economy, education, and the social and family affairs.
of the first measures of the new government was the abolition of the self-government of social security
boards that was established in the Antall era. The alleged reason for abolishing the self-governments
for health and pensions was that these funds operated under a board of laymen and a corrupt management,
and that their control became illegitimate after their leadership was renewed on the basis of delegation
instead of a general election in 1997. Though much of the corruption accusations are true in the case
of the health fund, this move is rather a declaration of war on the trade unions and collective--tripartite--bargaining,
and a preparation for the privatisation of the health sector. Another centralisation measure is the subordination
of the attorney authority to the government instead of the parliament, which has been the case since
the democratic transition began in 1989.
Thus, the second major tendency in the new structure of governance
is the strengthening of the executive power at the expense of the legislation. Apart from increasing
the number of ministries, now a cabinet minister will be in charge of the prime minister's office, and
his work will be assisted by not less than five junior ministers. In the same time, Fidesz-MPP confirmed
their previous proposal about decreasing the number of members of parliament substantially. Such a move,
however, would require a two-thirds majority in parliament, and thus cannot be carried through without
the consent of the Socialists. Nevertheless, in case this step takes place, a much smaller legislation
would be supposed to supervise a much lager executive, which would provide greater room for manoeuvre
for the latter.
It is not only the structure of governance but also its personnel is very telling
about the aims and profile of the new coalition. In this "Fidesz-government", there is only one minister--apart
from the prime minister--who has been an actual Fidesz politician since the party first entered parliament
in 1990. It is László Kövér, who was--together with Orbán--one of the founders of the party in 1988 March.
He has always been on the rigidly anti-Communist Right of the party, and now became Orbán's deputy in
case of his absence.
With a few exceptions (eminently Járai and Chikán), the rest of the ministers
have even less to do with liberalism than Kövér. Since in Hungary not only members of parliament can
become ministers, most of the members of the Orbán cabinet were introduced weeks after the elections.
To the surprise of many voters, a party that is liberal in name brought back the second line of a conservative,
authoritarian and nationalist government apparatus left behind from the Antall era (Pintér, Katona, Martonyi,
Finance was the area where the nomination of the minister was surrounded by the heaviest
social and political bargaining. Zsigmond Járai was the third person named as finance minister within
just a few weeks following the elections. First, before and after the polling days, György Matolcsy was
said to be candidate for financial affairs. During the Fidesz campaign, he was the most prominent to
argue for the promise of the party to reach and maintain seven percent annual economic growth. He directed
the works on the economic manifesto of Fidesz, and published a good deal of articles about the harm done
by the IMF, Bokros and others to the Hungarian economy.
The reason Matolcsy fell was that following
the appearance of the election results the index of the Budapest Stock Exchange started to dive--a clear
indication of the lack of trust in the unfounded promises of the winners, and a rejection of the economic
nationalism represented by Matolcsy. Fidesz responded to the crash by nominating Attila Chikán as minister
for the economy and László Urbán as minister of finance. Neither Chikán, nor Urbán took part in the election
campaign of 1998, but they had been active economic advisors of the party in the neo-liberal period of
Fidesz before 1994. The college headed by Chikán was one of the cradles of Fidesz in the 1980s, and much
of his students--László Urbán one of them--became prominent members or supporters of Fidesz.
two weeks of candidacy, Urbán was replaced by Járai with no public explanation apart from the ten year
age difference and the greater experience that goes with it. Unofficial sources, however, suggested that
the reason Urbán had to go was that his blueprints about settling the problems of Postabank--the second
largest savings bank of the country--were unacceptable for Viktor Orbán and his advisors.
policies of the new government will be managed by János Martonyi (7), a lawyer who served József Antall
as state secretary in the ministries of foreign economic affairs and foreign affairs. Due to the favourable
opinion the Western governments developed about the Horn-government, Martonyi promised no change in the
foreign policy of Hungary, i.e. to preserve the three major foreign policy objectives of the 1990s: the
Euro-Atlantic integration, the good neighbour policy, and the support of the Hungarian minorities abroad.
Though Martonyi and his deputy Zsolt Németh promised no change in the main objectives, they also hinted
some shift in emphasis concerning the practical pursuit of these goals. They said for instance that EU
accession would be a priority just like before but the Hungarian interest would be represented more consequently
than under the premiership of Horn and the ministership of László Kovács. Despite the explicit promise
of more protectionism, they also marked 2002 as the likely year of accession.
The first foreign trip
of the new prime minister was to France, to attend the World Cup final in Paris. Soon after, Orbán went
to Paris again to negotiate with President Jacques Chirac. These frequent flights to France do not mean
that France was more important for the Hungarian Right than Germany. Orbán paid a visit to Chancellor
Helmut Kohl before the elections, and kept in touch with Otto von Lambsdorf, the veteran Liberal politician
of Germany. In addition, certain key positions in the new government went to persons long involved in
German-Hungarian relations. Gergely Pröhle, long serving secretary of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation
in Hungary, became state secretary (8) in the Ministry of Natural Cultural Heritage, and Tamás Wachsler,
a former Fidesz MP, and recently secretary of the Manfred Wörner Foundation, became state secretary at
the Ministry of Defence.
Some other appointments of the new government also took a controversial character
at first glance. For instance, to head the national tax agency (APEH) and the still remaining privatisation
and holding company (ÁPV Rt.), Fidesz-MPP nominated persons deeply involved in the financial management
of the party. Lajos Simicska and Gyula Gansperger--together with István Stumpf's brother--have personal
stakes in certain companies in need of favourable state regulation for their business fortunes in the
near future. Simicska was also concerned in a corruption case under the Antall government when Fidesz
received an implicit state subsidy through the transfer of a Budapest palace they did not need for using
as headquarters but sold it and received a huge sum of money that would have otherwise been considered
as illegal subsidy.
It became very quickly obvious that the new ruling parties do not take most of
their campaign promises seriously. There might be, however, a few they will try to insist on. For instance,
the government announced that they would not build any dam on the river Danube. Before the elections,
Fidesz-MPP won most of the environmentalist vote by opposing the dam, but now they withdrew the issue
of the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros project from the authority of the ministry of environment, and temporarily
gave it to the ministry of economy--a sign of expecting further difficulties in this major international
The main test of the new government will be whether they will be able to reward their
main supporters, the industrial, commercial and agricultural entrepreneurs. The great centralisation
and the indirect intervention into the financial sector suggests that they are prepared to provide huge
subsidies to the middle classes. Thus it really makes sense, as the official Fidesz-slogans suggest,
to speak about "the government of the civic future", since a "civic present" is largely absent if the
supposedly independent bourgeoisie needs to be supported by the highly visible hand of the government.
Orbán declared his cabinet to be "the government of liberty, order, families, economic growth, togetherness,
and European co-operation". The question is how great emphasis all these different areas will get during
the actual operation of his cabinet.
The Left in opposition
The defeat of the Socialists
at the 1998 elections was unexpected for many, but it was by no means a humiliating defeat. To accommodate
to the new situation, personal and organisational changes began immediately. Shortly after the election
results were announced, the outgoing foreign minister László Kovács was elected leader of MSZP parliamentary
faction. Kovács has long been the most popular Socialist politician--more popular than Viktor Orbán,
even after the latter had already formed his government.
Soon after the results came out, Horn announced
he would not seek re-election as party leader at the 1998 Autumn congress of MSZP. Kovács was expected
to become party president, while Horn was expected become honorary president on the pattern of the late
Willy Brandt of the German SPD. He later rejected all positions in the new leadership including honorary
presidency. Together with some other leading figures (9) of the party, he was blamed for the defeat and
his withdrawal was seen as a pre-condition for the renewal of the party.
Kovács very quickly started
to popularise his view on the revitalisation of the party, by declaring the need for further Europeanisation
of MSZP, on the pattern of the British Labour Party under Tony Blair. However, it remains to be seen
whether he was just following a main trend in the European political discourse, or he was proposing something
like loosening links with the trade unions and abolishing party democracy.
In Hungary, links between
the unions and the party were never so close as in the UK. Further loosening of the union links is unlikely
in as much Sándor Nagy, the former MSzOSz leader is expected to become leader of the parliamentary faction
of MSZP when Kovács becomes president of the party. As a younger politician, Nagy is more likely to become
candidate for premiership of MSZP at the 2002 elections.
Former contenders of the party leadership
have been shifted to minor positions. Magda Kósa Kovács, former minister of labour and later general
vice-president of the party, has become chair of the human rights committee of the parliament, and Imre
Szekeres, former faction leader of MSZP became chair of the budget committee. Kósa Kovács is also expected
to become chair of the national council of MSZP by replacing Ferenc Baja, former minister of the environment,
who is considered to be one of the loyal lieutenants of Horn.
The reconstruction of MSZP, and of the
broader opposition, may take too long time. The municipal elections of 1998 October may again turn out
to be a contest between a united Right and a disunited Left. In the most important case, both Gábor Demszky
of SZDSZ as incumbent and Béla Katona of MSZP as challenger are expected to run for the mayor of Budapest,
while the candidate of Fidesz-MPP is expected to receive support from all government parties including
Whether MSZP and SZDSZ will be able to mount a challenge against the united Right
will not only be a matter of campaign and election tactics but also of the reconstruction of their social
basis. It has already been recognised that MSZP had very little appeal to the young generations of Hungarians
and, since 1994, lost some ground among the blue collar workers too. The question is whether the British
Labour Party or any other West-European party is a suitable example for the Hungarian Left.
still a broad political force with various tendencies inside. While the Right still insists on the neo-liberal
course set by Bokros, the left platform has openly criticised Kovács's Blairisation, and demands MSZP
to turn itself into a Left wing people's party. The platforms of the party crystallise certain views
but the real question is which social and economic groups will need MSZP as a potential governing organisation
in the future. Large sections of the financial and business community, the strongest trade union federations,
pensioners and intellectuals have equally supported MSZP since it was formed in 1989. The balance of
power between these groups will shape the profile of the party at the turn of the century, depending
on which of them will be first and most disillusioned with the incumbent government.
In terms of parliamentary
politics, MSZP still has no alternative on the Hungarian Left. The Workers' Party won less than 4 per
cent of the votes and remained outside parliament again, while the Social Democratic Party scored even
weaker and sunk into political insignificance. Forming new parties is very unlikely, given the bias of
the electoral system against small parties and the lack of resources in radical Left circles.
more than a third of the seats in the new parliament, MSZP can act as a strong opposition party in the
next four years. However, the number of representatives is not the only key to strength. They will have
to review much of their policies pursued in the last four years, and they also need to oppose the measures
of the new government firmly if they want to return to office in 2002 on a coherent and progressive platform.
1. Jemnitz (1998) is wrong to claim that in 1994 MSZP "won a landslide victory with
54 per cent of the total votes cast." 54 per cent was the eventual percentage of mandates held by the
Socialists, but their share in the popular vote was only 33 per cent.
2. The benefit members of parliament
enjoy once they formed a faction is that they can be represented in various committees of parliament,
they are given more opportunities to speak from the floor, and they have greater room for manoeuvre to
influence the agenda of the house.
3. The function of the Constitutional Court is to judge whether
a new law is in line with the spirit of the Constitution or not. In their decisions, the Court has displayed
a predominantly conservative attitude. It should be noted that the CC of Hungary holds much greater authority
and power than any similar bodies in other countries.
4. Much of the entitlements to social benefits
abolished by the Socialist-Liberal government (family and child care benefits, free higher education
etc.) had supported the middle class primarily. The Horn-government also attempted to impose stricter
taxation on the domestic entrepreneurs.
5. MDNP emerged from a split in MDF in 1995. Their prominent
politicians, former minister of finance Iván Szabó, former minister of foreign affairs Géza Jeszenszky
and former interior minister Imre Kónya presented themselves as the true followers of the Antall legacy.
6. In 1919, Admiral Miklós Horthy announced the seizure of Budapest after defeating the troops of the
short-lived Hungarian council republic with the support of the French and Romanian armies.
the last so-called Communist government lead by Miklós Németh, Martonyi was chairman of the board of
directors of the privatisation agency.
8. The state secretary is in charge of the actual operation
of the ministerial apparatus. Unlike the minister, he or she is not member of the cabinet, and in principle
the state secretary ought not to be replaced when the government is changing.
9. The campaign chief
Imre Szekeres was unable to seek re-election as leader of the parliamentary faction. The outgoing speaker
of the parliament, Zoltán Gál, was prevented by the faction to become deputy speaker when, after a surprise
challenge, former junior minister for the environment Katalin Szili was nominated instead.
Bayer József (1998) Új felvonás, új szerepek, in. Népszabadság, July 11
Jemnitz János (1998)
"The Hungarian Socialist Party after Four Years in Power", Labour Focus on Eastern Europe, No. 59.
Népszabadság (1998) A New York Times Orbán fordulatáról, June 29
The Economist (1998) Is Central
Europe, along with Hungary, turning right? May 30
Wiener György (1998) A 98-as választási paradoxon,
in. Népszabadság, June 29
More on Hungarian politics in Labour Focus on Eastern Europe
Gus Fagan (39/1990) The Left in Hungary
Gus Fagan (40/1990) The Transition in Hungary
Andor (41/1992) Economic Strategy in Hungary
Attila Ágh (47/1994) Eastern Europe's New Elites
László Andor (48/1994) The Socialist Victory in Hungary
Renfrey Clark (49/1994) Report on Budapest
International Left Conference
Peter Gowan (50/1995) The Visegrad States and the European Union
Swain (51/1995) Decollectivising Agriculture in the Visegrad States
László Andor (52/1995) The Role
of the External Debt in Hungary's Transition
Susan Zimmermann (53/1996) Hungary's New Left
Hudson (54/1996) Social Democracy in Hungary
László Andor (54/1996) Trade Unions in Hungary 1988-1996
Rainer Girndt (55/1996) Hungary's Trade Unions: Division and Decline
László Andor (56/1997) EU Enlargement
and the Hungarian Le