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Hungarian History Test


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Effects of WWII
Lots of people murdered in Hungary. Hungary was shocked by WWII, 2nd republic was left of center. Extreme right disappeared due to Soviet occupation.
The Coalition Era
April 1945: Soviet red army occupied all of hungary. New, temporary government, all antifascist groups represented.
Nov. 1945: Free parliamentary election: smallholder's party won absolute majority but forced into coalition by communists.
Stalinist era
1948: Communists forcibly united with Democrats and created MDP (Hungarian Worker's Party). Beginning of Stalinist era.
- Matyas Rakos; first secretary of MDP. Controlled all, included AVH (secret state police). Secret Police was the center terror arm of the party.
1949: First Showcase Trial. Laszlo Rajk, former Communist Interior Minister, was convicted of spying for Yugoslavia and executed. He confessed to spying. Message sent to public: everybody is suspect.
- Matyas Rakosi: dictator of Hungary.
Features of Stalinist Regime
mass nationalization: all industry, all banks, all foreign trade, most shops and services, all education, had cooperatives in agriculture. schools were religious.
- forceful industrialization: disregarding economic abilities
- low living standards: constant scarcity of all sorts of goods (food, clothes, etc.) Wanted items from the West.
- brainwashing: cult of personality (leaders' images everywhere), worship of the party. ranting against "class enemies". Had to pretend to love the party and the regime. Paranoia.
- Terror: arrests, labor camps, torture of prisoners, suppression of all--real or imagines--opposition.
Signs of weakening Stalinist Regime
March 1953: death of stalin. people still fearful of him after his death. had no obvious successor.
July 1953: Imre Nagy, Rakosi's rival, became PM. Had cautious reforms (labor camps closed, food supply increased, etc.) Gained nationwide popularity.
Spring 1955: Rakosi's comeback, Nagy was removed from party.
July 1956: Soviets replaced Rakosi with another Stalinist; Nagy is readmitted to party in October.
- October: people rehabilitated from showcase trials.
Revolution of 1956
fall of stalin statue. Imre Nagy: PM during 1956 Revolution. People's PM.
- Had images of revolutionaries and refugees.
The Kadar Era
Interior Minister in 1949, during the Rajk case.
convicted in 1951 under false charges, set free in 1954, reallowed into the party. Brought into power by Soviets in November 1956. First secretary of central committee of MDSZMP (Hungarian Socialist Workers Party) 1957-1988. Prime Minister 1956-58, 1961-65. Replaced in May 1988 and made president of the party (without real power). Died July 6, 1989.
Main periods of the Kadar Era
Nov. 1956-1963: Suppression of 1956 Revolution, establishment of new regime.
1963-1968: Early Kadar era; cautious and gradual consolidation.
1968-late 1970's: "classic" kadar era, economic prosperity, "goulash communism". Accepted Janos.
- 1980s: Late Kadar era, economic and moral crisis of the regime.
- cornerstones of the Kadar Regime: one single party, MSzMP, State owns all industry, most agriculture, trade, services, public housing (single craftsmen and "household farming" tolerated). 1956 was a "counter revolution".
Advantages of the Kadar regime
- You don't have to support the regime, but open resistance is not tolerated
- private life left alone, churches are tolerated, professional careers possible. Soft dictatorship = no public criticism. "Goulash communism": slow but continuous increase of living standards between 1963-1980. Ideological strictness gradually relaxed, gradual influence of the West tolerated (American culture).
- socialism decreasingly popular by the 1980's.
- Kadar as a leader: disliked the cult of personality and the limelight (no personal wealth). Friendly, humble, simple vocabulary. Could relate to lower-class. By 1970's he became very popular, grandfatherly image, Stubbornly held onto power, eliminated rivals.
The crisis of the regime
late 1970's economy began to decline; government began to borrow from the West, increasing debt burden. Gorbachev came into power in 1985, Kadar was too old to follow new reform spirit. He was ousted from power in May 1988 and named party president. The party's younger generation.
Challenges of the Transition
To privatize state-owned firms and business property, attracting foreign investment to modernize outdated technology.
- encourage private enterprise in all areas, from industry to retailing.
- to create favorable conditions for the free market to function.
Challenges of the Transition
to manage a rising unemployment resulting from the collapse of old Socialist companies.
- to help the "losers of the transition": the unemployed, the skilled, the Roma (Gypsy) minority.
- to maintain the quality of state services despite falling revenues: health care, education, etc.
Challenges of the Transition
-to create a democratic constitution and political system instead of a one-party dictatorship without violence and bloodshed.
- to guarantee the political independence of the police and court system.
- to prosecute people committing crimes under Socialism and restitute those who were deprived of property under the previous regime
- to reduce the informal influence of the former Communists in state administration and the public media.
Transition: 1988-1989
- opposition groups were formed: cores of later political parties
- the party removed old guards: younger and more flexible leaders realized that relinguishing power is inevitable.
- mass deconstruction: a new experience of freedom and democracy for the people.
- The National Roundtable was established to negotiate the process and steps of transition
Outlines of new political system
- electoral system mixing single-seat constituencies and party-lists; 5% of all votes needed to bring a party to Parliament elected for 4 years.
- government headed by the PM, approved by Parliament vote of confidence possible only against the whole government --> governments are stable.
- two-thirds laws: certain crucial laws can only be modified with the votes of more than 66% of MPs.
Four elections
1990, 1994, 1998, 2002: each time a new government was elected, one one managed to stay in power.
- 2006: socialists in power
- left-right swing: the two political sides keep replacing each other
- falling numbers of parties: in 1990, 6 parties in Parliament --> today only 4 (and a half), and 2 of those are very small
Major parties
- MSZP (Hungarian Socialist Party): the post-communist party reinvented itself as a social democratic party with a commitment to the underdog.
- Fidesz (Alliance of Young Democrats): founded as a student opposition group, it started out as a radical liberal party, then gradually moved to the right, until it became a moderate conservative force.
Minor parties
SZDSZ (Alliance of free democrats): liberal party with modest but stable support. Governed in coalition with the socialists 1994-1998 and since 2002.
- MDF (Hungarian Democratic Forum): Moderate conservative nationalist party. Largest party by 1990-1994.
Economic transformation
severe recession accompanied by the painful transition: in 1990-1993, GDP declined by 18%. since 1996, GDP has been constantly growing by 3-5% each year.
- inflation soared to 28% in 1995, but has steadily declined ever since (currently around 7%).
- privatization essentially finished: some 90% of former state enterprises were sold.
- multinational companies gained considerable influence in economy.

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