As could be expected, the Socialist Party (MSZP) and their coalition partners the Free Democrats (FDSZ) lost heavily in the recent council elections in Hungary. The problem is the people know what they are voting against but have no real alternative to vote for. Both main political blocs offer the same austerity programme. A genuine Left alternative is required.

23rd October sees the anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. That movement of the Hungarian masses signified the culmination of the growing discontent evident in Eastern Europe at the time.

Last week’s rioting in Hungary drew the attentions of the world’s mass media. Some even tried to compare it to that glorious moment in the history of the Hungarian working class in 1956, when attempts were made to move towards genuine workers’ democracy. But all that is false. Today’s rioting has a reactionary content, the result of a terrible austerity programme, but with no genuine Left alternative being presented to the masses.

We are republishing this article on the effects of the transition to capitalism in Hungary first published in Socialist Appeal issue 20, March 1994. "Miles and miles of closed factories greeted me as I travelled into Budapest. The contrast in downtown Budapest could not have been sharper. The swish, but very expensive shops and well dressed shoppers made me feel I had risen out of the Metro into a different world. The advent of capitalism has produced a polarisation of the population in terms of appearance, mood, wealth and lifestyle. A small, but significant section of people were living very well, but the vast majority, especially those in some country areas, where wholesale factory closures removed the sole employer, were sinking into poverty, unemployment and hopelessness."

We are republishing this article on the electoral victory of the former Stalinists in Hungary in 1994, first published in Socialist Appeal issue 23, July 1994. Following the trend of much of Eastern Europe Hungary in 1994 placed back in power the leaders and parties it had rejected just five years earlier. This article explains the background to the Socialists' victory.

Hungary put in a GDP growth of 6.8% in the first quarter of the year 2000 and expects a rate of growth of 5-5.5% by the end of the year. These are impressive figures, which any visitor seeing signs of a building boom, lots of new cars on the streets and a well-dressed, well-fed population would quickly confirm. Is the advent of capitalism bringing the horn of plenty to Hungary or is the picture somewhat less straight forward?

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