According to estatelearning, Hungary is located in Central Europe, bordered by Slovakia, Austria, Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. It is a landlocked country with a temperate climate and fertile soils. Its capital city is Budapest and it has an area of 93,030 square kilometers. Hungary has a varied topography with the Great Plain in the east and the Carpathian Mountains in the north and west. The Danube River runs through the country from south to north providing a natural border between Hungary and its neighboring countries. Hungary’s highest peak is Kékes at 1,014 meters above sea level. Hungary also boasts numerous lakes, rivers and thermal springs as well as several flora and fauna species that can be found throughout its protected areas. From its ancient castles to its vibrant cities such as Budapest, Hungary offers tourists a wide range of cultural attractions to explore.
An early Paleolithic settlement at Vértesszőllős has been estimated to be between 500,000 and 400,000 years old. Both cave settlements and open settlements are known from the Middle Paleolithic, as well as from the Late Paleolithic.
The Mesolithic is another poorly known period with few and little informational findings. With the emergence of starčevo culture in the south and the culture of the choroid culture in the east, agriculture reached parts of southern Hungary as early as the beginning of the 5th century BC. About 5500 BC performed the so-called linear band ceramic culture in western Hungary and spread rapidly across Central Europe (see band ceramic culture).
During the period about 5000–3500 BC showed significant cultural differences between the western and eastern parts of Hungary: in the east, the finds often show links to the Balkan Peninsula, while western Hungary maintained close relations with other parts of central Europe. After 4000 BC objects of copper and copper alloys became more and more common, and the material from the graves, which are often gathered in large burial fields, shows signs of a permanent social stratification.
From about 3500 BC the archaeological material shows far-reaching similarities with finds from the Black Sea region, the Aegean area and Anatolia; Smaller groups of people have probably, during the copper age and older Bronze Age, searched north on the Balkan Peninsula. Others came across the Carpathians into eastern Hungary. To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder to learn more about climate, population, government, and economy for the country of Hungary. Traces of fortified settlements from this period indicate conflicts. Relations with parts of Central Europe and Northern Europe show, above all, the design of bronze objects within the so-called coszider horizon with its many depot finds (c. 1700–1500 BC).
From about 1500 BC Hungary was part of the area of the Central European excavation culture. There is much evidence that this change was at least partially caused by immigration from the west. The older cultural traditions consisted in the eastern part of the Hungarian plain.
The excavation culture in Hungary subsequently developed into a local variant of the urn field culture. During this stage, fortified settlements became common again. During the 7th century BC northeastern Hungary came under strong cultural influence from the steppe region of present-day Ukraine and from the 5th century BC the Scythian influence was significant. In central and western Hungary, instead, occurred from about 800 BC. the eastern variant of the hall state culture; at this stage the Iron Age began.
From about 300 BC clear traces of Latin culture can be paved, which is also reinforced by Greek, later also Roman, information on Celts in the region. In eastern Hungary, the Thracian culture exerted a strong influence in the centuries before the birth of Christ.
The area was inhabited by, among other things, around the beginning of our time count. dakic, Celtic and Illyrian tribes. In addition, Quads and other German people pushed on from the north. The area west of the Danube was conquered by the Romans 12–9 BC It was first administered under the province of Illyricum but twenty years later became part of the newly established province of Pannonia, and around the military base Aquincum (in present-day Budapest) a significant civilian settlement emerged during the first century AD. From the late 300s the area was crossed by a number of migrant Germanic people. There were 425 captured by the females. Since the female empire collapsed after 454, ostrogoths and langobards and after 568 avars.
- Countryaah: Check to see the location of Hungary on the world map. Also covers major mountains, rivers and lakes in Hungary.
The invasion of the Magyars. Hungary as an independent kingdom (1000–1526)
At the beginning of the 8th century, present-day Western Hungary was under Frankish and Eastern Hungary was under Bulgarian rule. The locals were mainly Slavic-speaking. During the years 895–896, several tribes of yet another rider people from Asia swept through Ural, Volga and the southern Russian steppe under their leader Árpád across the Carpathians and into the area between the Tisza and Danube rivers. The newcomers, who in many languages are called Hungarians but themselves call themselves Magyarok (Magyars), robbed and plundered in Central and Western Europe. They arrived in the Pyrenees but were eventually defeated by 955 German and Moorish forces under the German king Otto I (later German-Roman emperor) at Lechfeld near Augsburg.
In 970, the Byzantine Empire halted the Hungarian advance in the southeast. These withdrew to the Danube, where they established a kingdom with wider boundaries than today’s Hungary. Hungarian leader Géza, grandson’s son to Árpád, assured that the state would live in peace with the neighbors and be baptized 975 according to the Roman Catholic ritual.
In the year 1000, the Kingdom of Hungary was established under the son of Géza, Stefan I (later called “the Holy One”), who in 996 married the Bavarian Princess Gisela, sister of Emperor Henry II. Stefan was recognized as Hungary’s ruler by the Pope in Rome. Thus Hungary’s independence was marked in relation to both the German-Roman and the Byzantine emperors.
Hungary was anchored politically, culturally and economically in the western Christian part of Europe. The horsemen’s clan community was transformed into an agrarian feudal community, and the country was administered by the commanders, Ispánok, appointed by the King. The population was divided into free nobles and free peasants. Monks from Western Europe introduced new farming methods. The Hungarian language received the Latin alphabet. Coronation town became Székesfehérvár, royal residences Visegrád and Buda as well as the Archbishop’s seat Esztergom. The political center of the kingdom was thus at the Danube curve.
The present Slovakia was conquered in the 9th century and came to be counted as the Stefanskronan core area. The Hungarians in the 1000s definitely took power in Transylvania. In the 1090s they conquered Slavonia, and from 1102 the Hungarian king Kálmán was also king of Croatia, who remained under the Hungarian crown until 1918 but retained its distinctive character, among other things. their nobility and their language. The country was governed by a ban.
The initially strong royal power, where the Crown stayed with the descendants of the national founder Árpád, was limited in favor of the aristocracy through Andreas II ‘s golden bull in 1222. It can be compared with the English Magna Charter (1215) and was much later invoked as evidence that Hungary was the custodian of freedom in East Central Europe and was in a special relationship with England.
One of the more circumscribed kings, Béla IV (1235–70), in the beginning of his reign, tried in vain to strengthen the kingdom at the expense of the aristocracy, among other things. by taking back the divested chronomark. The Crown and the chiefs happened in conflict. The latter were unlikely to contribute to the country’s defense at a time when the Mongols were sweeping across Central Europe. The Mongols invaded Hungary and in 1241 defeated the isolated Béla at Muhi by Sajó, a tributary to Tisza. The king fled to Dalmatia. The Mongols destroyed central Hungary’s cities and killed half the population. In a monastic statement, it was stated: “As a result of the destruction of the Mongols, in this year of the Lord, Hungary ceased to exist”.
Hungary survived, however, since the Mongols withdrew in 1242. Béla IV returned to rebuild the country. The defense was modernized partly by fortification buildings and partly by increasing the number of professional warriors through new breeding. The cities were also fortified and troops set up. To them, craftsmen and merchants moved to gain protection, and Hungary received a class of citizens (Hungarian Polgar). The latter were usually immigrant Germans, while the nobility remained Hungarian. During Béla IV, the land-owning aristocracy also grew. devoted to viticulture. Wine management became the economic base for cities such as Buda, Esztergom, Győr, Sopron, Székesfehérvár, Pozsony (Bratislava, German Pressburg) and Kolozsvár.
Béla IV relied on the bourgeoisie and the low nobility as well as the warrior people of Kuman, who had immigrated to the country in 1237. Around 1270, the nobility assemblies in the county began sending representatives to a royal legislative assembly, this one. The Kumanas and the three so-called nations of Transylvania, Szczecler, Magyar and Saxon, eventually came to be represented as well. However, the first Parliament did not gain political power until now.
The struggle between aristocracy and royal power continued. Béla IV ‘s grandson, Andreas III (1290–1301), was influenced by the political life of the Republic of Venice, where he grew up. He summoned a parliament from the low nobility with the intention of seeking to break the power of the aristocracy but failed. At his death, which also meant extinguishing the male line of the Árpádätt, anarchy broke out.
In 1308, the high nobility agreed to choose Karl I Robert by Anjou as king. He was the Pope’s candidate and came from the French ruling house in Naples, which had a tradition of authoritarian royal rule. The young parliament in Hungary was put out of business. Karl Robert’s son and successor Louis I (1342–82) – in the historiography called “the great” – confirmed the golden bull. The aristocracy could assert itself again. During Ludvig, Hungary’s first university was founded, in Pécs in 1367.
After Ludwig’s death without a male heir, a power struggle followed, which ended with the aristocracy giving the crown to Sigmund of Luxembourg in 1387, married to Ludwig’s daughter Maria. Sigmund soon became king of Germany and German-Roman emperor; Hungary was deeply involved in the politics of Central Europe. At the same time, the country was an outpost of the new threat to Europe represented by the Ottoman Empire. The threat was averted for a time when János Hunyadi, Hungary’s governor of Hungary under King László V, defeated a Turkish army in 1456, which besieged Nándorfehérvár (Belgrade). Hunyadi died in the plague after his victory against the Turks, and in 1457 died László, who was also king of Bohemia. An aggravated struggle for power broke out, which ended with the Hunyadi genealogy, with the support of the other low nobility, able to persuade the aristocracy to elect János son Mattias as king of Hungary in 1458.
Mattias I Corvinus built his position on the lowland, the citizens of the cities and even the peasants. He ruled as an enlightened despot in the spirit of the Renaissance. His painting Beatrice of Naples introduced contemporary Italian culture in Hungary. Buda was developed, and the king’s library was the largest in Europe after the Vatican. Mattias Corvinus did indeed wage war against the Ottomans. in Bosnia, but mainly focused on building a superpower in Central Europe. He acquired Silesia and the Moravia and conquered Vienna in 1485, which he made into a residence city.
After Mattia’s death in 1490, the high nobility was able to assert itself again, while the Hungarians lost their grip on Vienna. From the Jagellonian family from Poland, a king, in Hungarian called Ulászló II, was elected, who was strongly circumcised. His children, the latter Louis II and Anna, were married in the Habsburg house.
The Ottoman Wars and Hungary’s Third Division (1526–1699)
In 1526, the Ottomans attacked Hungary. Louis II, just like Béla IV in his day, found it difficult to get the aristocracy to defend and became an easy replacement for the Sultan’s troops at the battle of Mohács near the Danube. The king drowned during his flight. The Hungarian crown would now go to Ferdinand of Habsburg, who was married to Ludwig’s sister. However, as a result of the defeat against the Ottomans, Hungary was divided into three parts.
The Habsburgs part of the empire was limited to northwestern Croatia, Slovakia and a narrow land area in between. Pozsony became Hungary’s capital. Central Hungary with Buda came under direct Ottoman rule in 1541 and was largely destroyed. The third area, Transylvania (German Siebenbürgen), was ruled by princes, who were in vassal relations with the Ottomans and balanced between them and Habsburg. The province had a special character. After the so-called Union of Kápolna 1437, the political class consisted of Szekels and Magyars, ie. two Hungarian people, as well as scissors, ie descendants of immigrant Germans in the 13th century (compare Siebenbürgens Saxons).
After the Reformation in the early 16th century, there were four recognized religions: Catholicism, Lutheranism, Calvinism and Unitarianism. The Saxons were Lutherans, the Hungarian lowlanders and the citizens mostly Calvinists. The Romanian-speaking, Greek Orthodox peasants lacked political rights.
Hungary under Habsburg Empire (1699-1867)
In northwestern Hungary, Habsburg consolidated its position, and in 1687 the family was given hereditary right to the Hungarian krona. Transylvania had claimed a relatively independent position despite several war wars. After defeating the Ottomans at Vienna in 1683, conquering Buda in 1686, and in the peace at Karlowitz in 1699, the Ottomans made their claims to Hungary, Habsburg finally took control of Transylvania as well, after the defeat of the Ferenc II Rákóczi, supported by the lowland and by both Hungarian and Romanian peasants but not by the high nobility and the scissors.
The peace in Szatmár in 1711 reaffirmed Habsburg’s triumph. Transylvania was placed directly under Vienna. In the 18th century, a new wave of immigrants from Germany, Catholic Swabers, arrived. Transylvania, however, was not recatolized unlike Habsburg’s other domains.
The economy of pre-industrial Hungary was characterized by the three climatic areas in which the country was located. The temperate, mountainous areas of the northwest were characterized by mining, forestry and grain cultivation. Central Hungary’s plains, the breath, were pastures for the large herds of cattle exported to Europe for centuries. Finally, there were large vineyards in the mountains around Eger and Tokaj, on Lake Balaton and in southern Hungary. The population lived largely on meat and wine.
The agrarian economy was controlled by the Hungarian nobility, but mining was run by Germans. Among the owners was the famous house Fugger. During the Middle Ages, Hungary was a leading producer in Europe of gold, silver and copper. The city system was poorly developed. After a large peasant uprising under György Dózsa in 1514 in connection with a mobilization against the Ottomans, the peasants were bound at the turf. They came to lack political rights in the following centuries and are heavily exploited by the big landlords.
After the Habsburgs consolidated power under Emperor Leopold I (1658-1705), Hungary was almost ruled as a colony and was unable to recover economically. The nobility, however, survived as a political class. Emperor Joseph II ‘s (1765–90) policy of seeking to despair Hungary despotically (from 1780), without being limited by any coronation, his decision to make German an official language instead of Latin, and his abolition of peasant life traits led to a nationalist reaction among the Hungarian nobility.
The portal figure of early Hungarian nationalism was Count István Széchenyi, who, under Habsburg’s ego, carried out liberal economic and cultural reforms in Hungary. Communication across the Danube was improved through the construction of the Chain Bridge between Buda and Pest. A Hungarian Academy of Sciences was established. The Hungarian lowland became the bearer of a nationalism that was partly directed at Habsburg, partly adopting ethnonationalist features and directed at the other peoples of the country. The liberals among the Hungarian nationalists advocated individual liberties and rights, but not collective rights for national minorities. Hungarian nationalism therefore came to be directed not only at the German Habsburg culture but also against the non-Hungarian nations in Hungary, especially Slovaks, Romanians and Croats.
During the European Revolution year of 1848, Hungarian leaders demanded a constitution that would give Hungary far-reaching autonomy. The new emperor Frans Joseph’s government in Vienna did not agree to the demands. Hungarian politics was radicalized, and in April 1849 the independence of Debrecen Lajos Kossuth proclaimed Hungary. The rebellion was defeated by Russia’s Tsar Nicholas I, who in the spirit of the Holy Alliance helped his imperial colleague in Vienna. Among the Hungarian freedom heroes was the national call Sándor Petőfi, who disappeared during the war. The defeated Kossuth fled. Hungary was subjected to stiff rule from Vienna.
Double Monarchy Austria – Hungary (1867–1918)
In 1866, Austria’s position of power weakened considerably, after the state was defeated by Prussia in the Battle of Königgrätz. The regime was now forced to agree to Hungarian demands. Under the leadership of Ferenc Deák, the Hungarians realized that the Habsburg Empire was converted to the double monarchy of Austria-Hungary. The foreign, defense and finance ministries were joint, but the Hungarian government was responsible for the country’s two-chamber kingdom day.
The so-called compromise, Ausgleich, also meant that Transylvania, Vojvodina and the military border area in Croatia were transferred from Vienna to Buda’s control. Croatia, through a special agreement in 1868, gained far-reaching autonomy. Transylvania, on the other hand, was held in tight rein. Slovakia was not recognized at all as something separate from Hungary. The Nationality Act 1868 defined the Hungarian Kingdom as a single nation with Hungarian as the official language.
The latter half of the 19th century was characterized by rapid economic development and social differentiation. In 1873, Buda was united with Pest to Budapest. The capital grew enormously in connection with the country’s economic development. The plague turned into a modern European metropolis. Food production and the textile industry grew strongly, but the industry depended on foreign investment.
The European economic crisis in 1873 soon hit Hungary, too, especially as government finances dignified under the burden of a swiftly swollen bureaucracy after 1867. The oblique system was abolished, and the workers were given the right to strike in 1884. In 1890 a social democratic party was formed, which cooperated closely with the unions. In 1900, there were approximately 1.2 million mining and industrial workers in Hungary, of whom 200,000 were organized. The social insurance system was expanded, but the workers lacked the right to vote in parliamentary elections.
Under Liberal Kálmán Tisza’s government (1875–90), a successful business policy was pursued with regard to industrial growth, but agriculture could not compete with the North American exporters. The land-owning aristocracy sought to guard its position through protectionist tariffs and other protectionist measures. The position of the peasants remained miserable. After 1870, an extensive emigration took place, mainly to the United States. In 1907 alone, 200,000 citizens emigrated.
The Jews were granted complete individual freedoms and rights in the double monarchy in 1867, and the economic and cultural life came to have a strong Jewish element. This Hungarian-Jewish bourgeoisie – from which some individuals were born – was a child of the Jews who immigrated from Galicia and Bukovina in connection with the emancipation of the Jews there. In 1910, the Jews in Hungary were 900,000 or 5 percent of the total population. In Budapest, they accounted for 23 percent.
The school system was expanded under the liberal regime, and in 1910, 80 percent of all adults were literate. The Catholic Church’s hold on education was broken, and even in civil law, the state was secularized, for example with regard to marriage and divorce. In the field of education and administration, a far-reaching magyarization was carried out between 1890 and 1914. Highly educated Slovaks, Germans, Croats and Romanians were assimilated, as were many Jews. However, the period was characterized by increasing demands for political representation on the part of the minorities. There were certain regroupings in the political elite: the trail was closed to the minorities, while coexistence with Vienna was also accepted by the “1848 Party”, which previously required the establishment of a Hungarian national bank and a special Hungarian customs area.
The First World War ended with the double monarchy of Austria – Hungary defeat and dissolution. On October 31, 1918, a popular revolution broke out in Budapest. István Tisza was assassinated, and King Charles IV was forced to appoint the “Red Count”, Mihály Károlyi, the anti-friendly leader of the Independent Party as prime minister. This one formed a coalition government with elements of social democrats. On November 13, Karl laid down the crown, but without formally abdicating (king in exile until his death in 1922).
Hungary during the Second World War and World War II (1919–45)
The victorious forces demanded that Hungary give up territory and peoples to the new Czechoslovakia and the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (from 1929 Yugoslavia) as well as to Romania and Austria. Károlyi refused to accept the demands and resigned March 19, 1919. He surrendered to a government of social democrats and communists, where the latter under Béla Kun became completely dominant. Kun transformed the government according to the Soviet pattern to the “People’s Commissioners Council”.
On March 21, he proclaimed the Soviet Republic of Hungary. The aim was to defend Hungary’s old borders and at the same time implement a social revolution with the nationalization of banks, industry and land over 40.5 hectares. Nearly 600 “counter-revolutionaries” were executed, and large landowners like the church men were harassed. At the end of May, Kun’s troops occupied part of Slovakia, which was also proclaimed a Soviet republic. Encouraged by France, Czechoslovak and Romanian troops intervened. The Romanians occupied and plundered Budapest. On August 1, the Hungarian Soviet Republic’s saga was all over, and Kun fled to the Soviet Union.
Art red terror was followed by white terror. It involved, among other things, extensive murders of Jews, carried out by both Hungarian and Romanian troops. Intellectuals and socialists, like many of the Jewish middle class, fled. Several of them, as literary scientist and philosopher György Lukács, had been part of the government of Kun. In January 1920 elections were held with universal suffrage. Parliament, which was dominated by the conservative Christian National Union and the Smallholder Party with a land reform on the program, reinstated the monarchy. In anticipation of a king, Admiral Miklós Horthy was appointed Deputy Governor.
Through the peace in Trianon June 4, 1920, Hungary was forced to relinquish more than two-thirds of the territory and three-fifths of the population, which subsequently amounted to about 7.6 million. The neighboring countries gained large Hungarian minorities. In Hungary, ethnic Hungarians came to make up 90 percent. Hungary lost 84 percent of its forest resources, 43 percent of arable land, 49 percent of industrial workers, 44 percent of industry as a whole and 18 percent of heavy industry and 30 percent of banks.
Horthy authoritatively ruled Hungary. Voting rights were limited. In 1921–31, István Bethlen (1874–1947) led conservative governments. He resigned as a result of the social unrest that came when the World Depression in 1929 hit Hungary. The right-wing fascist sympathizer Gyula Gömbös (1886-1936) ruled 1932-36. He died before he could fulfill his plan to fascistise the country, but right-wing radicalism remained in power, and in 1938–39 laws were introduced that discriminated against the Jews.
Hungary had approached Germany economically and foreign policy during the 1930s and came to stand on its side during the Second World War. With German support, parts of Slovakia, Carpathian-Rutenia (present-day Carpathian-Ukraine), Transylvania and Vojvodina were recovered in 1938–41. When, in October 1944, Horthy sought to end separate peace with the Soviet Union, the Germans forced him to submit to Germany instead. The leader of the fascist Arctic Cross movement, Ferenc Szálasi, took power; Horthy abdicated and the deportations of Jews already initiated by the Germans intensified. Of the country’s 600,000 Jews, 500,000 were murdered. Many of the survivors were those who could leave the country thanks to the Swedish protection passport issued by Raoul Wallenberg.
Before the defeat and capitulation, the Small Farmers Party, the Social Democrats, the Communists and the National Peasant Party on December 22, 1944, formed a provisional government in Debrecen. It closed down with the Soviet Union on January 20, 1945. The country was placed under a Soviet-dominated Allied Control Commission. On April 4, 1945, the last Germans were expelled, and the war was over for Hungary.
In October 1945, free elections were held for Parliament. The smallholder party received 57 percent, social democrats and communists each 17 percent and the National Peasant Party 7 percent of the vote. In 1946 Hungary became a republic. Victory powers made peace with Hungary in Paris in 1947. The borders of the Trianon Peace were set except that Czechoslovakia got a bridgehead, a few municipalities south of the Danube opposite Bratislava.
Hungary as a People’s Republic (1949–89)
Hungary joined the Soviet sphere of interests and in 1949 became a “People’s Republic”. The Soviet Union, at the end of the war, took 600,000 Hungarians as prisoners of war and removed them as forced laborers. Of these, 200,000 never returned. The years 1946-48, with threats and terror, a complete Sovietization of the country was carried out. László Rajk, Mátyás Rákosi and other Stalinists established dictatorship and silenced the non-communist parties. In 1949, Rajk was purged and executed following a judicial process.
After Stalin’s death in 1953, terror in Hungary ceased, and a transition to a more consumer-oriented economic policy began to be discussed in the Communist Party. The reform line was associated with Imre Nagy, who became prime minister. However, Rákosi managed to get Nagy deposed in April 1955. It looked as if the country would be restalinized. However, Khrushchev’s Stalinization figures in the spring of 1956 became a signal for reforms in the Eastern bloc, beginning in Poland. In Hungary, after the Soviet pressure, Rákosi found it too good to leave. However, he was succeeded by another Stalinist, Ernő Gerő, who did not satisfy the reformers. Sympathy demonstrations in Budapest on October 23, 1956 for the reform forces in Poland led to confrontation with the police and increased demands for liberalization also in Hungary. The party appointed Nagy as head of government. Gerő was forced to resign.
Nagy was attracted by the anti-Soviet and Communist hostile sentiments and rehabilitated the old coalition parties. He declared that Hungary would withdraw from the Warsaw Pact. The Soviet Union then intervened with military force, with Kádár on his side. Nagy fled to the Yugoslav embassy. He was subsequently arrested and executed in 1958. Before the border was closed, 200,000 Hungarians fled to the west. See further the Hungarian Revolution.
Kádár retained power until 1988. He began his regime with the execution of 2,000 regime opponents and imprisoned 25,000. The collectivization of agriculture was completed. After consolidating power, Kádár embarked on a liberal line, and in 1968 the so-called New Economic Mechanism was introduced. The business sector received elements of free price formation and market economy. Hungary was characterized by “goulash communism”.
The dissolution trends in the Soviet Union after 1985 gave way to reforms in Hungary, which aimed at dismantling the socialist state. Kádár was forced to resign in May 1988, and in 1989 the Communist Party abolished itself. On October 23, on the 33rd anniversary of the 1956 revolution, the Republic of Hungary was proclaimed. Free elections were announced until the spring of 1990.
Hungary as Parliamentary Republic (1989–)
The 1990 election was a great success for the democratic opposition. The largest party was the Conservative Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF), which formed a coalition government together with two smaller center-right parties, while the Liberal Peace Democrats (SzDSz) became the largest opposition party. Since 1990, major changes have taken place in the Hungarian party system. Both MDF and SzDSz have lost their leading positions and are now no longer represented in Parliament. However, lasting has been a dividing line between the left (social democrats and liberals) and the right (conservatives and nationalists), and party politics has increasingly evolved towards a highly polarized two-block system.
Since 1994, the Socialist Party (MSzP), with the support of SzDSz, and the Conservative Youth Democrats (Fidesz), with the support of several center-right parties, have alternated in power. In total, five of the six elections that have been conducted since 1990 have meant a shift in power. The Socialist Party held the government in 1994–98 and 2002–09, both times in coalition with the Peace Democrats. Fidesz led a Conservative government in 1998–2002 and returned to power after a superior victory in the 2010 election (Hungary was ruled by a technocratic expert government in 2009–10).
All elections have been free and fair, and Hungary’s development towards a consolidated democracy has been swift and unambiguous. However, the strong polarization between the two blocs has been hampering the political debate climate. In particular, the right-wing governments have also been criticized for trying to control the media in an unjust way. Recurring corruption scandals have also contributed to the voters’ confidence in the parties remaining very low.
Despite the sharp polarization, both the blocs have been relatively united on the main objectives of the policy, namely membership in NATO and the EU, market economy reforms and a general welfare policy. The difference between the left and the right is rather a cultural dimension, where the right has to a much greater extent used a nationalist language and, for example, raises the question of the situation of ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries.
While there has been a threat of left-wing threats – the uninformed sections of the old Communist Party have never succeeded in Parliament and are now completely eradicated – there has always been some support for right-wing populist and extremist nationalist parties. Most successful of these has been Jobbik, who has achieved success in both European and parliamentary elections (in the 2014 election, the party received 21 percent of the vote).
In 2006, Jobbik formed an armed branch, the Hungarian Guard (Magyar Gárda), which was called against the Roma and Jews. The Roma are the most vulnerable of the minority groups in Hungary and no government has seriously tried to integrate them into society by, for example, ensuring that they get decent housing and guaranteed schooling. The high crime statistics for Roma, to which many Hungarians are happy to refer, should be viewed in the light of widespread poverty and a largely forced exclusion.
One reason for the constant exchange of power is the large and long-term deficits in the state budget, which are due to, among other things, high costs for the extensive social protection network. Any government that tried to correct the deficits (through, for example, increased taxes, lowered or withdrawn grants of various kinds and cuts in the public sector) has lost the following choices. Prior to EU membership in 2004, Hungary had gradually adjusted and modernized its economy, but so far the large deficits have prevented membership of the EMU. At the same time, both the Hungarian state and private individuals have taken large loans in euros.
When the global financial crisis hit at the end of 2008, the value of the Hungarian currency, the forint, collapsed and an acute crisis arose for the state, while many Hungarians, who receive their wages in the forint, were forced from home and home when they could not pay their loans.. While the Hungarian government has received extensive financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, among other things, to prevent the economy from collapsing, hard-hit Hungarians have gone out into the streets and demonstrated to the government.
After 1989, foreign policy reduced Hungary’s eastward contacts and approached the EU and NATO. In 1997, the country was invited to negotiate membership in the EU; In 1999, it joined NATO and 2004 in the EU. Of neighboring countries, Hungary has had problematic relations with Slovakia and Romania as well as formerly Serbia.
During the so-called refugee crisis in 2015, people sought refuge in the EU via the Union’s external border between Hungary and Serbia. As Hungary did not accept asylum applications, the government decided to close its border (and thus the EU’s external border) in order to prevent people from entering. The Fideszled government also built, for this purpose, a controversial barbed wire fence in parts of Hungary’s border with Serbia and Croatia. The refugees who tried to get through the barbed wire fence were met with tear gas and water cannons by the Hungarian police. Hungary refuses to accept asylum seekers. The country also refused to accept the EU’s common quotas policy, which stipulates that each individual Member State should take care of a certain number of refugees. All in all, this shows Orbán’s and Fidesz’s critical migration position.
The election result in the 2018 parliamentary election meant that government power will continue to be held by Viktor Orbán’s party Fidesz. Under Orbán’s leadership, the party has been transformed from a liberal to a conservative party. In line with this, voter support multiplied. Orbán is Hungary’s prime minister for the fourth time and is also expected to lead the country in a more authoritarian and nationalist direction in the coming term.