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Hungary

Yearbook 1998

Hungary. According to Countryaah, the campaign for the third democratic parliamentary elections was characterized by the topics of corruption and crime. Admittedly, the number of murders and robberies in Hungary is below the European average, but when it comes to spectacular crimes such as car bombs and open-air gunfire, the country is above average. In the last elections in 1994, the reformed Communists, the Socialist Party, MSzP (Magyar Szocialista Párt), withdrew power from a conservative coalition. The big question was whether the 1998 elections would lead to a change of power.

1998 Hungary

The first round of elections did not give a clear result: the ruling MSzP led the vote count by 32% against the largest opposition party, the Liberal Youth Democrats, Fidesz (Magyar Polgári Párt) with 28%. The complicated selection system is a mixture of personal choices and proportional choices. Before the second round, intensive negotiations began with parties and candidates for the best possible results. For MSzP's coalition partner, the Peace Democrats, SzDSz (Szabad Demokraták Szövetsége), the situation was dramatic as voters betrayed the party. The second round of elections showed that there was no further term of office for Prime Minister Gyula Horn. The winner of the election instead became the challenger, Viktor Orban from Fidesz. Horn was part of Communist Hungary's power apparatus, while the young lawyer Orban (born 1963) already in the late 1980s became a spokesman for the entire nation when he demanded the departure of the Soviet troops.

As Europe's youngest prime minister, Orban formed a center-right coalition consisting of Fidesz, the Independent Smallholder Party, FKgP (Független Kisgazda-Földmunkás-és Polgári Párt) and the Hungarian Democratic Forum, MDF (Magyar Demokrata Fórum). Orban took over a country with high growth, falling unemployment and rising real wages. The major problems in the economy are inflation and that such a large part of the population lives below the minimum. At the municipal elections in October, the new government parties received failed support. The turnout was about 48% of the electorate.

Hungary in the 1990s

In March and April 1990, free elections were held in the country, the first after 1945. Nine parties were represented in parliament; the largest was the Center / Right Party Democratic Forum (MDF), led by József Antall. Number formed government together with smallholder party and Christian Democrats. The Liberal Peace Democrats became the second largest party and the leading opposition party; party leader Arpád Göncz was elected the first president of the new republic of Hungary.

The new government was met with great expectations, which would soon prove rather unrealistic. The country's economy was shaky and could not service the huge foreign debt, and trade with the COMECON countries collapsed. The government initiated a privatization process and introduced a market economy, which led to explosively rising unemployment. In 1992, the number of unemployed passed 600,000. Production, real wages and living standards dropped; prices, dissatisfaction and disappointment rose.

Internal strife soon ensued in the government, which suffered a series of defeats. In 1992–1994, a battle raged for the freedom of the mass media, with the president and prime minister on each side. The government was accused of extensive interference in the activities of the state broadcasting and other media. Several key media people were fired from their positions, the biggest concern was when hundreds of employees in Hungarian radio, allegedly for financial reasons, were laid off in 1994. The government finally had to bend, the dismissal got back to work while the broadcasting chiefs had to leave, and in In October 1994, the Constitutional Court declared the involvement of the authorities in the media activities illegal.

Although the situation in the Hungarian economy in the first half of the 1990s was difficult, it was not as precarious as in many of the other former communist countries. Inflation was lower and the inflow of Western investment capital greater in Hungary than in any other country in Eastern Europe. The Czech Republic, which was the second most favored in that respect, received only half as much investment capital in terms of population.

Prime Minister Number died in 1993 and was succeeded by Minister of the Interior Péter Boross. In the May 1994 parliamentary elections, the Socialist Party MSzP won a pure majority, and Gyula Horn became the new prime minister in a coalition government with the Peace Democrats. Work on privatization of business and the development of a modern market economy was continued by Horn's socialist-dominated government, which also implemented unpopular public savings measures. Unemployment and inflation fell, real wages rose and foreign debt decreased from the mid-1990s.

With the favorable economic development, the result of the 1998 parliamentary elections was for many a surprise. The Socialist Party remained the largest with 32.3 percent of the vote, but received fewer seats than the right-wing Fidesz, the "Young Democrats," who rose from 20 to 148 seats. Government responsibility went to a majority coalition of Fidesz, the Small User Party and the Democratic Forum, led by Fidesz leader Viktor Orbán.

Hungary joined the Council of Europe in 1990, as the first in the former Eastern bloc. In 1996 Hungary gained membership in the OECD, and the following year the country was welcomed to negotiate membership in both NATO and the EU. In 1999, Hungary joined NATO.

 

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