Generally About the Politics of Today’s Hungary

Hungary became a democratic republic in 1989, so today’s Hungarian politics can be counted since that time. One party system was abolished and a lot of opposition parties appeared (or became legal) that year. The republic was proclaimed on 23rd October. The first elections were held half year later in the spring of 1990, on which the right moderated, conservative MDF (Hungarian Democratic Forum) won.
In the last 25 years some new parties were founded and some of the older ones disappeared (especially in case of the elections in 2010 there were a lot of newcoming and disappearing parties). So first let’s see the parties that are now existing and then those that were important in some periods of the last 25 years.

parlament2

Parliament of Hungary (click for larger view)

today’s parties according to their colors: 

Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Union (Fidesz – Magyar Polgári Szövetség)

The now governing center right conservative party was founded by young people in 1988 and shared liberal views against the that day ruling communist regime. On the first and second elections they could manage to get only 9 and 7% of the votes, and about 5% of seats in the Parliament. Around 1992-’93 they chose to turn into conservativism and filled in the space of the (after 4 years of governing) unpopular MDF party. They won the general elections in 1998 and 2010. In 2010, they got a 2/3 supermajority in the National Assembly, 68% of seats, 52.7% of votes. Today their popularity is around 40%.
The most important character of the party is Viktor Orbán. He’s one of the founders, later president of the party (1993-2000, 2003-present) and was prime minister between 1998-2002, and is prime minister now since 2010.
The name Fidesz is an acronym of Fiatal Demokraták Szövetsége (Alliance of Young Democrats) and means faith in Latin. Later – as the founders of the party got older and the party turned to conservativism – picked up the name Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Party (1995 – 2003) and Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Union (2003 – present).
Critics say that the party strives for monocracy and wants to throttle the institutions of democracy. They also say that Viktor Orbán has too big power inside the party, strives for dictatorship. They say he should have resigned after the 2nd lost elections in 2006.

popular among:

  • families
  • middle-aged people (formerly young people, recently became popular among old people too)
  • habitants of towns
  • westernmost and easternmost parts of Hungary
  • middle classes (today partly upper and lower classes as well)

Hungarian Socialist Party (Magyar Szocialista Párt), MSZP

This party is the legal successor of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, the party of the communist regime. In 1989 they decided to leave the word Workers’ (referring to the communism) from their name, and strived to win the first democratic election, which they failed as they got only the 8.5 percent of the votes. Later in 1994 they won the elections with the 54% of seats, but despite this they had established a coalition with their former enemy, the SZDSZ Party (Alliance of Free Democrats). They lost in 1998, but won again in 2002 and 2006. After 8 years of governance they lost their popularity and could manage to get only the 16% of seats in 2010 (19.3% of votes). Today their popularity is around 25-30%.
They don’t have one most important character, but had 4 different prime ministers. From 1994 to 1998 Gyula Horn, who – as during his governance revealed – was a State Prodection Authority (ÁVH) officer in the ’50-s, in the communist regime. Their next prime minister was the independent Péter Medgyessy, who – as it revealed – was a secret agent in the communist regime. Maybe the most significant prime minister (2004-2009) of the Socialist Party was Ferenc Gyurcsány. Critics say that MSZP – as it was the party of the communist dictatorship – shouldn’t be allowed to exist in democracy or at least they should give back their properties to the state as it’s unfair that they started the capitalist democracy with possessions acquired in dictatorship which gave an unfair competitive advantages to them.

popular among:

  • old people
  • habitants of Budapest
  • habitants of villages
  • lower classes, upper classes
  • people being nostalgic about socialism

Jobbik (Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom)

A far right party (or radical right as they consider themselves) of that main ideology is Hungarism, revisionism, anti-Gypsy, anti-Jewish, anti-Slovakia, anti-Romania and anti-EU sentiments. The party was founded in 2003, but got into the National Assembly only in 2010, after the 8 year long unpopular governance of the Socialist Party. They have 12 % of the seats (16.7% of votes). Their name can be translated either as For a Better Hungary Movement or as For a Righter Hungary Movement. Today their popularity is around 10-15%.
Critics say Jobbik is way out of democracy as they are far right party and often make anti-semite, anti-gypsy statements, so they shouldn’t be allowed to exist. They also have a party-military which was disbanded several times. All the other parties distance themselves from them.

popular among:

  • young people
  • men
  • habitants of villages (specially east and north from Budapest)
  • lower classes

Politics Can Be Different (Lehet Más a Politika), LMP

Green, liberal, anti-globalist party, founded in 2009 and got into the Nationaly Assembly by 4% of the seats (7.5% of votes). Today their popularity is around 4%.
There are no significant partisans, nor is there significant criticism against them.

popular among:

  • young people
  • habitants of Budapest
  • middle classes

Christian Democratic People’s Party (Kereszténydemokrata Néppárt), KDNP

Founded in 1989, part of the first government with its 5.4%. On the 2nd elections in 1994, they could manage to get 5.7 %, but in 1998 they fell out from the National Assembly. Later in 2006 and 2010 Fidesz Party contracted an electoral alliance with them, so that now they’re part of the government. Their popularity can’t be measured, because they run in elections in electoral alliance with Fidesz Party.
Critics say they gave up their independence when their made electoral aliance with Fidesz, which – they say – annexed them. Critics also say that they want to restore a strictly religious catholic state.

popular among:

  • old people
  • religious people
  • middle classes

Together 2014 (Együtt 2014), E14

Founded  by former prime minister Gordon Bajnai (2009-2010) in 2012 aiming to join the forces of the – by them – so called democratic opposition, which definition exludes the far-right opposition party, Jobbik. Their popularity is now around 10 %.
Critics say that they – after winning the elections – want to do the same misguided politics as MSZP did before 2010, of which independent prime minister was Gordon Bajnai (2009-2010), the leader of this new party. They also say this party is a trick of MSZP – which dramatically lost its popularity in 2010 – to get back to power.

popular among:

  • young and middle-aged people
  • habitants of Budapest, perhaps habitants of big towns
  • middle classes, upper classes
  • former Socialist Party voters

Democratic Coalition (Demokratikus Koalíció), DK

Left-wing opposition party founded in 2011 by former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány (2004-2009) by quitting the Socialist Party with his followers. Their popularity is now around 1%. They’re negotiating with the Socialist Party and Together 2014 about the elections in 2014.
The criticism of the party is consistent with the criticism of MSZP, specially the times when Ferenc Gyurcsány was the prime minister.

popular among:

  • old people
  • habitants of Budapest
  • habitants of villages
  • people being nostalgic about socialism

There are also some other new little opposition parties which are definitely below 1%:

  • Social Union (2010), SZU by Katalin Szili, former member of MSZP, former speaker of the National Assembly (2002-2009), ideology: social democracy, conservativism, environmental protection
  • 4th Republic Movement (2012), 4K!, ideology: social democracy, liberalism
  • there is a liberal party planned by former SZDSZ (1994-2010) and Fidesz (1988-1993) member Gábor Fodor

disappeared parties that used to be important (in brackets: presence in the national assembly):

Hungarian Democratic Forum (Magyar Demokrata Fórum), MDF (1990 – 2010)

Conservative party, the winners of the first democratic elections in Hungary (42% of seats). They lost their popularity after their governance, so after 1994 they were never able to get more than 10%. Between 1998-2002 they participated in Viktor Orbán’s first cabinet. In 2010 they fell out from the National Assembly.
Their most important character was József Antall, the first democratically elected prime minister of Hungary after the communist regime. He died in 1993, during his governance.

was popular among:

  • old people
  • families
  • habitants of villages, towns
  • middle classes

Alliance of Free Democrats (Szabad Demokraták Szövetsége), SZDSZ (1990 – 2010)

Liberal party, founded in 1988, which was the second popular party on the first general elections (24% of seats), partly because of the radical criticism of the communist regime. Became also the opposition of József Antall’s government between 1990-1994. In 1994 they entered to a coalition with their former enemies, the Socialist Party, although it would be able to govern alone (since it had the 54% of seats). This decision reduced their popularity significantly, so later they were able to get only some 5 or 6%-s. In 2010 they fell out from the National Assembly.

was popular among:

  • young and middle aged people
  • minorities
  • gays
  • habitants of Budapest
  • middle and upper classes

Independent Smallholders, Agrarian Workers and Civic Party (Független Kisgazda Párt), FKgP (1990-2002)

Founded in 1930, refounded in 1956 (during the Revolution), and again refounded in 1988. Conservative party, aimed to fight for mallholders’ and agrarians’ rights. Took part in József Antall’s cabinet from 1990 to 1994 and later in Viktor Orbán’s first cabinet. In 2002 they fell out from the National Assembly.

was popular among:

  • old people
  • habitants of villages

Hungarian Justice and Life Party (Magyar Igazság és Élet Pártja), MIÉP (1998-2002)

Radical right-wing party founded  by István Csurka in 1993 by quitting MDF Party with his followers. They could manage to get to the Nationaly Assembly only in 1998. They were in opposition and had the 3.6% of seats 5.5% of votes. Unlike the today popular far-right Jobbik Party, the voters of MIÉP were usually old men and the party got the most votes from Budapest.

was popular among:

  • old people
  • men
  • habitants of Budapest
  • lower classes, middle classes

Elections and prime ministers

 Election winner party coalition partners prime minister
1990 MDF
(Hungarian Democratic Forum)
KDNP (Christian Democratic People’s Party),
FKgP (Independent Smallholders, Agrarian Workers and Civic Party)
József Antall (MDF), 1990-1993
Péter Boross (MDF), 1993-1994
1994 MSZP
(Hungarian Socialist Party)
SZDSZ
(Alliance of Free Democrats)
Gyula Horn (MSZP)
1998 Fidesz – MPP
(Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Party)
FKgP (Independent Smallholders, Agrarian Workers and Civic Party),
MDF (Hungarian Democratic Forum)
Viktor Orbán (Fidesz)
2002 MSZP
(Hungarian Socialist Party)
SZDSZ
(Alliance of Free Democrats)
Medgyessy Péter (independent), 2002-2004
Ferenc Gyurcsány (MSZP), 2004-2006
2006 MSZP
(Hungarian Socialist Party)
SZDSZ
(Alliance of Free Democrats), until 2009
Ferenc Gyurcsány (MSZP), 2006-2009
Gordon Bajnai (independent), 2009-2010
2010 FideszKDNP
(Fidesz – Christian Democratic People’s Party, eletoral alliance)
Viktor Orbán (Fidesz)
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