The Roundtable Talks of 1989
The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy

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The Roundtable Talks of 1989
The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy
Analysis and Documents

Edited by

Andras Boz6ki

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Central European University Press Budapest

02002 by Andras Boz6ki Translation 0by Orsolya Karacsony, Eniko Koncz, Tamas Magyarics, Brian McLean, Karoly Mike and Agota RCvCsz
Published in 2002 bey

Central European University Press
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ISBN 963 924 1 2 1 0 Cloth Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data The roundtable talks of 1989: the genesis of Hungarian democracy: analysis and documents / edited Andras Boz6ki p. cm.. Includes bibliographical references and index ISBN 1. Hungary-Politics and government-1989- 2. Constitutional history-Hungary. 3. Post-Communism-Hungary. 4. Democracy-Hungary. 1. Bozoki, Andras. JN2067 .R68 2002 320.9439-dc2 1 2002000046

Printed in Hungary by Akadkmiai Nyomda, Martonvasar

Table of Contents

List of Contributors List of Appendices and Tables List of Abbreviations Acknowledgments Andras Bozoki Introduction

vii ix xi



1. The Politics of the Roundtable Talks


Zoltin Ripp

Melinda Kalmar

Andras Bozdki and Gergely Karhcsony

Unity and Division: The Opposition Roundtable and Its Relationship to the Communist Party From ‘Model Change’ to Regime Change: The Metamorphosis of the MSZMP’s Tactics in the Democratic Transition The Making of a Political Elite: Participants in the Hungarian Roundtable Talks of 1989


71 107 107

2. The Institution-building Process Rudolf L. Tokks Adim Masit
John W. Schiemann

Institution Building in Hungary: Analytical Issues and Constitutional Models, 1989-90 Beyond the One-party System: The Debate on the “Party Law’’ The Negotiated Origins of the Electoral System


3. Roundtable Tdks in Context: Historical and Comparative Annlyses

191 191

Alan Renwick

The Role of Non-Elite Forces in Hungary’s Negotiated Revolution

Jhnos M. Rainer Andrew Arato Csaba BCkCs

Regime Change and the Tradition of 1956 The Roundtables, Democratic Institutions and the Problem of Justice Back to Europe: The International Background of the Political Transition in Hungary, 1988-90

21 1 223 237

Andras Boz6ki and Zolthn Ripp: Introduction to the Documents 1. Proclamation of the Independent Lawyers’ Forum to the Organizations of the Opposition (March 15, 1989) 2. Proposal of the Opposition Roundtable to the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party (April 19th, 1989) 3. Agreement on the Commencement of National Roundtable Talks (June loth, 1989 ) 4. Opening Plenary Meeting of the National Roundtable Talks (June 13th, 1989) 5. Agreement among Members of the National Roundtable on the Thematic Structure and Schedule of the Talks (June 21st, 1989) 6. Plenary Session of the National Roundtable Talks (June 2 1st, 1989) 7. Plenary Session of the National Roundtable Talks (September 18th, 1989) 8. Agreement Concluding the Political Reconciliation Talks. June 13th to September 18th, 1989 (September 18th, 1989) ErzsCbet Ripp: Chronology of the Hungarian Roundtable Talks. January 1989-April 1990 Andrhs Boz6ki: Biographies of the Key Participants Selected Bibliography Index 275

279 283 287 293

311 3 13 335 359

365 385 41 1 423

List of Contributors

Andrew Arato is Professor of Political and Social Theory at the Graduate Faculty of New School University, New York. He is the editor of Constellations, a journal of critical and democratic theory. His research interests include comparative politics of constitution making, constitutional theory, and problems of U.S. presidentialism. His books include Civil Society and Political Theory (1 9921, From Neo-Marxism to Democratic Theory (19931, and Civil Society, Constitution, and Legitimacy (2000). Csaba BCkCs is a historian, senior fellow at the Institute of 1956, and director of the Research Centre of Cold War History. His research focuses on the Cold War in international politics between the 1950s and 1990. His recent books include The Hungarian Revolution o I956 in World Politics [in Hungarian] f published in 1996. He is co-editor of the collection of documents entitled Transition to Democracy in Hungary, 1989-90, available at the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C., and at the Institute of 1956, in Budapest. Andrhs Boz6ki is Associate Professor of Political Science at the Central European University and Eotvos Lorhnd University, both in Budapest. His research interests include democratization, elite change, political ideologies, forms of political change, and the role of intellectuals. His most recent books include Intellectuals and Politics in Central Europe, of which he was editor, published by the CEU Press in 1999, and the 8 volumes of The Script of the Riginie Change: Roundtable Talks in I989 [in Hungarian], as editor-in-chief and co-editor, published in Budapest in 1999-2000. Melinda Kalmhr is a freelance historian. Her main research field is the ideology of the Khdhr era in Hungary, from its very beginning in the late 1950s until its end in the late 1980s. Her book, Eats and Dowry: Communist Ideology in the Early Kdddr Era [in Hungarian] was published in 1998. She was coeditor of the 8 volumes of The Script o the Rkgime Change: Roundtable f Talks in I989 [in Hungarian] published in Budapest in 1999-2000. Gergely Kariicsony is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the Budapest University of Economics. He is a research fellow at the Median Public Opinion Poll Institute. His research interests include political elites, political public opinion, and electoral behavior. He participated as research assistant in the 8volume-project on the Roundtable talks.

Adrim Masrit is a student in History and Political Science at the Eotvos Lorind University, Budapest. His main field of interest is the post-communist transition with a special focus on German-Hungarian relations. He participated as a research assistant in the 8-volume-project on the Roundtable talks. Jhnos Rainer M. is a historian, Director of the Institute of 1956, and a regular visiting lecturer at the Department of History at the Eotvos Lorhnd University. His main research field is the history of communism, especially of political leadership, and the revolution of 1956. His recent books include The Place of the Writer: Debates in the Literary Press, 1950-53. [in Hungarian] published in Budapest in 1990, and Imre Nagy, A Political Biography 2 vols [in Hungarian], also published in Budapest in 1996 and 1999. Alan Renwick is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at St. Johns College, Oxford, and Lecturer in Politics at Christ Church, Oxford. He has translated Hungarian books into English and has published articles on Hungarian politics. The title of his Ph.D. thesis is “Combining rational choice and political culture: Institutional choice in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland, 19891991”. ErzsCbet Ripp is a freelance political scientist. Her research focuses on the Kiidiir era. She was co-editor of the 8 volumes of The Script of the Rkgime Change: Roundtable Talks in 1989 [in Hungarian], published in Budapest in 1999-2000. Z o l t h Ripp is a historian and a senior research fellow at the Institute of Political History, Budapest. His research interests include contemporary Hungarian history from the 1956 Revolution to the present day. His recent books include Free Democrats: A Historical Sketch of the Politics of the SZDSZ [in Hungarian] published in 1995 and October, 1956 and Power Relations [in Hungarian] published in 1997. He was co-editor of the 8 volumes of The Script of the Rkgime Change: Roundtable Talks in 1989 [in Hungarian] published in Budapest in 1999-2000. John W. Schiemann is Associate Professor of Political Science at Columbia University, New York. His research field includes political theory, comparative politics, and democratization in East Central Europe. He has published book chapters and articles on the Roundtable talks in the Journal of Theoretical Politics and the Archives of European Sociology. Rudolf L. Takes is Professor of Political Science (Emeritus) at the University of Connecticut, in Storrs, Connecticut. His research field include Hungarian politics in the twentieth century, post-communist democratization, and processes of institution-building in new democracies. He has published widely on these topics in recent decades. His recent books include From PostCommunism to Democracy, published in Bonn in 1990, and Hungary’s Negotiated Revolution, published by the Cambridge University Press in 1996.

The Structure of the National Roundtable Talks in Hungary. Major Agreements and Disagreements between the MSZMP and the Opposition Roundtable on Political Issues Tables xxxii xxxiii Roundtable Talks in East Central Europe in a Comparative Perspective Phases of Plwalization and Leaders of the Two Most Influential Political Groupings (1985-1989) Dominant Political Elite Networks during the Process of Transition Opposition Parties and Their Position at the National Roundtable Talks Significant Elements of the Hungarian Electoral Law of 1989 Paths of Regime Change Types of Transition.List of Appendices and Tables Appendix I . 1989 Appendix 2. Constitution Making and Governmental Sructures in Eastern Europe and South Africa 1989-1997 xx 91 100 101 167 224 226 .

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Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Friendship Society (Bujcsy-Zsilinszky Endre Barbti Tdrsasdgl Demisz .Democratic People’s Party (Demokrata Nkppart) Opposition Roundtable (Ellenzkki Kerekasztal) EKA Federation of Young Democrats (Fiatal Dernokrathk Fidesz Szovetskge) Fidesz-Hungarian Civic Party (Fidesz .List of Abbreviations ASZ AVH BAL BZSBT .State Defence Bureau (Allamvidelmi Hatbshg) .Magyar Polgciri Fidcsz-MPP Part) Independent Lawyers’ Forum (Fiiggetlen Jogasz Fdrzim) FJF Independent Smallholders’ Party (FiiggetlenKisgazdaparf) FKGP Democratic League of Independent Trade Unions FSZDL (Fiiggetlen Szakszewezetek Demokratikus Ligdja) Patriotic People’s Front (HazaJiasNipfront) HNF Christian Democratic People’s Party (Keresztknydemokrata KDNP Nipphrr) League of Communist Youth (Kommunista Ijtisbgi KISZ Szovetskg) Central Statistical Bureau (Kozponli Statisztikai Hivatal) KSH Hungarian Democratic Forum (Magyar Demokrata Fbrum) MDF Hungarian Democratic People’s Party (Magyar Demokrata MDNP Nkppart) Hungarian Workers’ Party (Magyar Dolgozdk Partja) MDP Association of Hungarian Resistance Fighters and AntiMEASZ Fascists (Magyar Ellencillhk ks Antifasisztcik Szovetskge) MFT Miinnich Ferenc Society (Miinnich Ferenc Tarsash& Hungarian Justice and Life Party (Magyar Igazsag is EZet MIEP MKP Partja) Hungarian Communist Party (Magyar Kommunista Phrt) .Hungarian Federation of Democratic Youth (Magyar Demokratikus IJziscigi Szovetskg) DNP .Left Alternative Alliance (Baloldali Alternativa Szovetskg) .Agrarian Alliance (Agrdrszovetskd .

MNOT MNP MNSZ MOL MSZDP MSZMP MSZOSZ MSZP MTA MTI NDSZ NKGP NPP OSZK QT SZDSZ SZKH SZOT szovosz TDDSZ TIB UMP National Council of Hungarian Women (Magyar Nb’k Orszcigos Tandcsa) Hungarian People’s Party (Magyar Nkpphrr) Association of Hungarian Women (Magyar Nb’k SzGvetskge) Hungarian National Archives (Magynr Orszdgos Levklthl-) Social Democratic Party of Hungary (Magyarorszhgi Szociddemokrata Phl-t) Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party (Magyar Szocialista Munkbspcirt) National Alliance of Hungarian Trade Unions (Magyar Szakszervezetek Orszhgos Szovetskge) Hungarian Socialist Party (Magyar Szocialista Pbrf) Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Magyar Tzidomcinyos Akadkmia) Hungarian News Agency (Magyar Tavirati Iroda) National Democratic Alliance (Nemzeti Dernokrata Szovetskg) National Smallholders’ Party (Nemzeti Kisgazdaphrt) National Peasants’ Party (Nemzeti Parasztphrt) National Szkchenyi Library (Orszdgos Szkchenyi Konyvthr) National Planning Bureau (Orszcigos Tervhivatal) Alliance of Free Democrats (Szabad Demokratrik Szovetskge) Network of Free Initiatives (Szabad Kezdemknyezksek Haldza fa) National Council of Trade Unions (Szakszervezetek Orszagos Tandcsa) National Alliance of Co-operatives (Szovetkezetek Orszdgos Tanhcsa) Democratic Trade Union of Scientific Employees (TudomcinyosDolgozBk Demokratikus Szakszewezete) Committee for Historical Justice (Tortknelmi Igazshgtktel Bizo ttsbga) New March Front (@ Mdrciusi Front) .

I would like to thank Mhia Magyar and Richhrd Rados. Jhnos Varga. Jacek Wasilewski. together with Laszl6 Bruszt. Jhnos Kis. Finally. comments and suggestions. especially the contributors to the book. and Clifford Chadwick who have helped me to prepare the manuscript for publication. Andrhs Gero. Erzskbet Ripp and 201th Ripp. most grateful to the members of our research and editorial team: Mhrta Elbert. Some of them are contributors to this book also. and Financial Research Ltd. Peter Wagner. Our research into the Hungarian Roundtable talks has been supported by the Political Science Department of the Central European University. Philippe Schmitter. therefore. Our findings were published in a series of books-8 volumes in total-in Hungarian in 1999-2000. Melinda Kalmhr. I am. I also thank colleagues. The friendly and supportive scholarly cominunity at the European University Institute in Florence created ideal conditions for the completion of my work during my fellowship there in the academic year 2000-01.Acknowledgments This book grew out of the work of Hungarian researchers into the documentary history of the Roundtable talks of 1989. After two years of intensive research we were able to publish the minutes and all relevant documents of the negotiations. Jan Zielonka. Lajos Gecshyi. the Hungarian National Scientific Research Fund (OTKA). Gyorgy Szabad. both from the CEU Press. Christian Joppke. but also theoretical and historical analyses. which included not only biographies and a chronology. the Fekete Doboz Foundation. Bkla Rkvksz. and the anonymous reviewers for their ideas. Andrcis Bozdki .

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The above criteria were listed to indicate that the concept of the change of regime (or transition) in this book is not understood in any broad sense and teleologically. judicial independence is assured. Democracy in Hungary was instituted first-capitalism came only later. the completion of privatization or the possible ratification of a new constitution-but is used as a synonym for the transformation of political institutional order. all possess the right to freedom of speech and to alternative sources of information. and fmally. This definition is not contingent on the transformation of political culture. but rather retrospectively. unfolding and analyzing its history on the basis of primary sources recently published in Hungarian in eight volumes’. The change of regime in Hungary has-in what historically speaking must be called a very short period of time-by now been completed. The change of regime as a political transition can be regarded as complete when the nascent system contains that “minimum of democracy” which Robert A. even of the occasional deficiencies in democracy3. even to form political organizations. elections are free and clean. the institutions of democracy were not realized in Hungary overnight and we must have a clear view of the problems of the last ten years in Hungary. those in power are elected through a democratic process.Introduction: The Significance of the Roundtable Talks Andrtis Bozdki This book deals with the history of the 1989 Roundtable talks in Hungary. freedom to assemble. Needless to say. . * A change of regime is a political transformation of institutional and revolutionary character which effects a transition from a dictatorial type of political system into a democracy. control over the armed forces is exercised by civilians2. law-and-order becomes a hdamental constitutional principle. The authors of this book are all of the opinion that in Hungary-as opposed to certain other Central European countries-these Roundtable talks amounted to much more than a mere side-show. The history of the change of regime in Hungary is unintelligible without a clear insight into the history of the Roundtable talks. in fact they constituted the hub of a total revolutionary transformation. This involves such aspects as dismantling the old political system and laying down the foundations of a new institutional order. Dahl described as comprising the following elements: citizenship becomes universally recognized. but it does not necessarily include the long process of economic transformation.

’* and the publication and analysis of party document^. it is usually linked with two events: the Lakitelek meeting in September 1987 and the party conference in May 1988 of the ruling Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party (Magyar Szocialista Munkdspcirt. personal opinions published as memoirs and volumes of conference papers. political analysts regard two program declarations as precursors of the change: that of the manifesto Tcirsadalmi szerz6dLs (Social cont r a ~ t ) drawn up by an influential group within the democratic opposition and . ever-increasing list of analyses and recollections. it was the coup by the Communist party rank and file which made it possible for politicians more open to change actually to enter what then was the ruling state party.'^ These are complemented by a long.’ comparative chronologies. In order to fill this gap the literature of Hungarian social science has attempted to capture and interpret the transfonnation-whilst still on the move.xvi The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis ofHungarian Democracy When asked to identify the critical points as well as the starting and closing events of the 1989-90 change of regime in Hungary. MSZMP).’ These reform politicians who rose to the antechambers of power took rather a long time to decide whether they favored reforms designed to salvage and “cure” the critically ill regime or whether they preferred “euthanasia” to rid the country of it once and for all. local authorities. the process which reared its head under the circumstances of the Kiidhrian “mature post-t~talitarianism~” started its somewhat halting and and groping progress. as it were-through a number of excellent contemporary analyses. interview session^'^ and studies of particular political organizations. what actually was said and by whom at the 1989 Roundtable talks has been preserved only in the “black box”’6 of the change of regime. That Lakitelek meeting was the first public.~ the even earlier program entitled Fordulat &s reform (Turnabout and Reform). the Parliamentary debates.” However. The close of the transition-as most authors writing on the period agree-is marked by the local and national government elections of 1990 and the establishment of fundamental. finally developed into a textbook case of peaceful transition into democracy. the unseating of representatives and the speeches delivered at assemblies on historical commemorative occasions have been preserved in the memory. most scholars tend to be in agreement. and even these were for the most part preserved in the collective memory in the flickering images of television coverage. ’ . As far as the actual starting point of the regime change is concerned. In any case. democratic institutions of the new regime (the constitutional court. Generally.7 Ultimately.’ published mostly by economists in opposition although inside Party ranks.). etc. demonstrative step towards the overt formation of political organizations in opposition to the regime.“ Of all things which took place in the intervening period (from early 1988 to late 1990) only the street demonstrations. The Tdrsadalnzi szerz6dks was the first to proclaim “K6d6r6 has to go” but it was moderate enough to envisage no more than a constitutional framework placed as a restraint on the one-party system and did not go as far as to demand its abolition.

the Hungarian People’s Party (Magyar Nkpphrt. Therefore. KDNP) joined the EKA. at the talks the Opposition Roundtable (Ellenzkki Kerekasztal. Em)-comprising nine opposition organizations-was only one of the “sides. MNP).” In Hungary. the Hungarian Democratic Forum (Magyar Demokrata Fbrzm7. Fidesz). The dominant figures within the Polish opposition were very familiar with the events of the democratic transition of 1975-77 in Spain17and were attempting to use similarly peacehl means to attain the same goal themselves. representing a unified position. the Independent Smallholders’ Party (Fiiggetlen Kisgazdaphrt. in early June 1989. FSZDL).” the other two being the reigning Communist Party on the one hand and the socalled “Third Side”20(comprising organizations close to the Communists) on the other. MSZDP). BZSBT). The founders of the EKA were as follows: the Alliance of Free Democrats (Szabad Demokrathk Szovetskge. The Polish Roundtable talks lasted from early February to early April in 1989 and resulted in the unconditional recognition of Solidarity and the decision to hold “restricted but free” general elections in June 1989. In Poland in the 1980s there was one single all-encompassing opposition movementthe trade union Solidarnosc (Solidarity)-and by the fall of 1988 the Polish party leadership had had to come to terms with the fact that. Solidarity at the time could afford the luxury of being only one in a mixed company of varying political weight during the talks. SZDSZ). as they were well aware that their huge popular support would allow them to revise any Roundtable agreements laterwhich is precisely what had eventually happened. however. the population at large would not be receptive to the reforms initiated by the Polish United Worker’s Party (PZPR). Thus. The opposition first held their own Roundtable talks and then emerged on to the scene as the Opposition Roundtable. the Democratic League of Independent Trade Unions (Fiiggetlen Szakszervezetek Dernokrutikus Ligaju. MDF). FKGP) and the Social Democratic Party of Hungary (Magyarorszhgi Szociddemokrata Part. needs a little elaboration. the Roundtable was set up by the opposition itself and for the purpose of harmonizing the activities of the opposition organizations. Government. in Poland it was the legalization of the political opposition which became the prerequisite for the liberalization and democratization of the regime. later that summer. without legal recognition for Solidarity. the Catholic Church.Introduction: The Significance of the Roundtable Talks xvii The concept of “Roundtable talks” as used in the title of this book. Therefore. tri-lateral talks on social and political issues with repre- . in the spring of 1989 the opposition was able to hold bilateral preparatory talks with representatives of the MSZMP and. All were seated around one huge Roundtable: Communist Party. the Christian Democratic People’s Party (Keresztknydemokruta Nkpphrt. Later. Solidarity. The political use of the phrase “Roundtable” entered the vocabulary of the Hungarian opposition after the Polish Roundtable talks. the Federation of Young Democrats (Fiatal Demokrutdk Szovetsc!ge. the Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Friendship Society (Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Endre Barhti Thrsascig. and so it was natural that this should become one of the focal points of the Roundtable talks. representatives of the State Trade Unions and the Communists’ satellite Parties.

one opposition party (the Social Democrats) was legalized and people could vote in secret in the bigger cities. began to clamp down on all adherents to democratic ideals. which had been given control over all the armed forces. it is beyond doubt that the 1989 change ranks as one of the most outstanding events of the century. The Communist dictatorship (under the leadership of Mhtyhs R a o s i and Erno Gero until October 1956 and of Jhnos Khdhr following the 1956 revolution) between the years 1948 and 1962 exercised totalitarian control. The dualist regime of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy gave the people peace and prosperity-but it was a liberal. Scanning the decades of the 20th century for moments of historical significance. constitutional monarchy and not democracy. multi-party system. * There are few peaceful and democratic periods to be found in the 20th-century history of Hungary. The following period. Hungary was occupied by foreign troops stationed on her soil. The end of the war (yet another defeat) in 1945 marked the commencement of democratic developments which were arrested by Stalinist sovietisation initiated by the occupying powers in 1947-48. however. Later. Between 1945 and 1947 the regime was based on free elections but could only be called semi-democratic as Soviet control gave no opportunity to any opposition. but the close of the era saw the introduction of censorship. It was technically a pluralist.xviii The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy f sentatives of both the MSZMP and the “Third Side”. it was rocked by short-lived revolutions (firstly democratic and then antidemocratic) in 1918-19. can be described as a softer. Franchise was extended. forced the major parties to form a Grand Coalition and disenfranchized hundreds of thousands of citizens. in the chaotic years following defeat. in 1914. The peace treaty signed at the Trianon (in Versailles. semi-constitutional traits. and so the sovereignty of the country in the political and military sense was restricted fundamentally. Then. The following years saw a number of politically mixed periods-none of them democratic-under the regency of Miklbs Horthy. the country entered the war and. As an ally of Nazi Germany the regime conducted an increasingly severe campaign of discrimination against its own Jewish citizens after 1938. characterized simultaneously by a relative openness to economic reform and by the political monopoly of the Communist Party?2 The . the Conmunist Party. Freedom of the press prevailed for a time. all of these talks came to be thought of by the public as “Roundtable talks”. Finally. although throughout most of the country voting was public and open. near Paris) gave Hungary its independence but took away two-thirds of all of its territory. In 1944 and early 1945 the country was run by a Nazi puppet government under the name of “The Arrow Cross” and became a theatre of war. 1963 to 1989. but the elections were always won by the governing party. “National-Christian” ideology and by semi-democratic. posttotalitarian dictatorship. From March 1944 to June 1991. This era was characterised by a revisionist.” which was only mitigated by the “thaw” of 1953-54 and defeated for a mere 12 days in the revolution of 1956.

but the fact that they occurred more or less simultaneously created highly favorable circumstaiices for a democratic turn. we must stress the impact of the 1956 revolution. i. gave up its status as the state party and accepted the new constitution. The Communist Party opened negotiations with the opposition. It is precisely for this reason that we should not overestimate the importance of the Hungarian Roundtable talks: they provided an important link in the great historical chain of events taking place at the turn of the decade. in the 15 years after its beginnings in the mid-seventies. the social and ethnic conflicts which had made the Eastern Bloc burst at the seams. the diminishing performance of the economy. As far as internal causes are concerned. The Communist experiment in Central and Eastern Europe was over-and its demise swept like wildfire over the region to reach the Soviet Union itself in 1991. the corresponding.” Political parlance reveals a split consciousness-the buzzwords of the era were “dual social structure. all this fits into a trend of democratization which. The “leading forces” of the critically ill regime. Among the most important external factors. evolutionist strategies of the democratic opposition in a number of these countries. Southern Europe. the rise to the top of the Soviet hierarchy of First Secretary Gorbachev who introduced a style of politics open to compromise. forced to accept the idea of representative democracy.e. each of these constitutes an important and integral part of the process. saw most countries of Latin America. Central and Eastern Europe rid themselves of dictator~hip.” “forced” manner. by 1989.Introduction: The Significance of flie Roundtable Talks xix twilight of the regime lasted from 1985 to 1989. It is only the first and last decades of the 20th century which have given Hungary a chance-the other eight have often been described by such phrases as “having developed” in a “deformed.” “belated. in a “roundabout” way of “contingency paths. From this particular point of view it seems difficult to overestimate the significance of the changes of 1989 and the mature. were. the Communists. In Poland and . we must number defeat in the Cold War. Taken by themselves. the co-ordinated. Speaking in terms of global processes. the exhaustion of the regime’s social reserves. the crippling consequences of the arms race.” “twofold system of values” and so on. The events of 1989 were of international importance. human rights-based foreign policies of the Western countries and.” “dual economy. disintegration of ideology and a willingness to compromise on the part of both the new and the old elite.~~ The fact that Hungary became one of the new democracies is not attributable to one single factor. finally. ready-for-compromise politics of the sides involved. The decade which has passed since the free and fair elections of 1990 was the first to see a truly democratic Hungary during the thousand-year history of the country. There are numerous internal and external causes which brought about the collapse of the old regime in this particular way and at this particular time.” “split image of society. since they marked the collapse of a system that proclaimed itself an alternative to the market economy of democratic societies. As the result of the Roundtable talks a democratic Republic was declared in October 1989.

tion. Main Issues legalization of Solidarity.power-sharing tion of changes. 1989. in one way or another. plebiscite. Civic orgs. However. Roundtable Talks in East Central Europe in a Comparative Perspective ~ ~~ ~~ Country Poland Time FebruaryApril. but in East Germany and Czechoslovakia they only legitimized and institutionalized the changes after the fact. Civic Forum. 1989 CP. In East Germany the “GDR-revolution” of the Fall of 1989 was quickly forgotten when the option of German reunification became available. free elections policy issues policy issues. rules of transition. elections Result pact. Socialist Party (ex-communists). fragmented opposition groups partly decisive Romania FebruaryMarch. Union of Democratic Forces National Salvation Front. constituThird Side tion-making.-Dec. In Romania.xx The Roundtuble T a l k of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy Hungary it was these talks which led to the changes. Opposition rules of transiRoundtable. 1989 institutionaliza. The following table offers an overview of the nature and significance of Roundtable talks in various countries in East Central Europe. policy issues power sharing no impact on free elections pact. free elections partly decisive GDR January-March 1990. Tuble 1. ~ ~~ ~~ non-decisive ~ Bulgaria January-May 1990. Participants Communist Party (CP) Catholic Church. New Forum. Solidarity. a basic change of regime occurred in all of these countries. semi-free elections Significance decisive Hungary June-Sept. policy issues no impact on free elections non-decisive Source: compiled by the author. pact. 1990. Public against Violence CP. It was only in the GDR and in Romania that Roundtable talks did not play a significant role in the transition process. etc. decisive free elections ~ ~~ Czechoslovakia Nov. CP. (failed) constitution making constitutionmaking. elections government. the parallel putsch and revolution of December 1989 brought a heterogeneous political group to power (the National Salvation Front) led by ex-communist politicians. These were not remotely interested .

at the initiative of the Independent Lawyers’ Forum (Fiiggetlen Jog& Fbrurn. the third phase of the process commenced after the declaration of the Republic on October 23 and is characterised by such issues as the redefinition of the identity of the Opposition Roundtable. 1989. The first phase lasted from the formation of the Opposition Roundtable to the commencement of National Roundtable Talks. rather weak and vulnerable alone. on March 22. Unlike Polish Solidarity. This proved to be a great force for cohesion. In the aftermath of the hugely significant demonstrationz5 of March 15. their main concern was to prevent the emergence of democratic pluralism before elections. therefore. the period from June 13 to September 18. these circles became aware and confident of their social backing and popular support and. the parties of the Hungarian opposition evolved out of relatively isolated groups and circles within the intelligentsiaz4 and were. The process of the Roundtable talks in Hungary can be divided into three easily discernible phases. by and large. dissent by even one of the participants would veto a decision. This phase lasted from November 1989 to April 1990.26 To ensure maximum unity the participants agreed to a procedural regulation which stipulated that all EKA decisions would be consensus-based. 1989. that is. that is. by thwarting the usual Communist strategy of divide-and-conquer which was relying on separate talks) and of the political co-ordination of the opposition on the other hand. the participants understood that the unity of the . Those opposition organizations united by the Opposition Roundtable were all in agreement (was unanimously agreed at the founding meeting without a formal vote) that only those organizations could become members which satisfied the requirements that: (1) their goal was to achieve sovereignty for the people. The first three months of these talks constitute the second and most decisive phase-that is. From this point on all participating organizations had to consider their voting intentions most carefully since any dissenting vote would prevent the Opposition Roundtable from reaching a decision. it saw the Opposition Roundtable gradually lose its political significance and witnessed increasing rivalry between the formerly united factions and organizations which had participated in it. During its history the EKA had often been pushed to the verge of schism or near disintegration-in some cases the “twelve angry men” continued a heated debate until the last moment and even beyond-but. in fact. one week later.Introduction: The Significance of the Roundtable Talks xxi in a power-sharing formula: they used the “Roundtable” merely as a facade for democratization and. FJF). the acceptance of the Government as a negotiating partner and questions closely tied in with the approaching general elections. (2) they refused to share in the privileges of a monopoly of power and (3) they formed no alliance with such entities (i. Finally. the Opposition Roundtable was formed. 1989. * At an early point the formation of the Hungarian Opposition Roundtable could be considered vital from the point of view of self-defence on the one hand (that is. from March 22 to June 10.e. with those in power).

it had to face the accusation that it was striking an elitist bargain and going over the heads of the people-in other words. Consequently. public nature of the talks. this did not mean that on questions of internal procedures the members could only cast a “yes” vote. this stance was unacceptable both to the Party as a whole and to those groups close to the MSZMP. even if they were to lose the electi0n. As soon as the EKA accepted a curb on the open. a table with the MSZMP at one side and the Opposition Roundtable at the other.” This is why the Opposition Roundtable was so determined from the beginning to emphasize the fact that it had no plans to negotiate on constitutional or economic matters and that it had no mandate from the people to set up new institutions and offices such as the Constitutional Court or the office of President of the Republic. who nevertheless wished to distance themselves from the Communists. in the new Parliament also. Even though the Opposition Roundtable had good reasons to assume that their constituent organizations enjoyed significant popular support. This principle of consensus-based decision making-a subtler version of which was extended to the trilateral talks in the summer. which took place behind closed doors.g. It was also agreed that further groups could take part in the talks only as observers (a “fourth side”) and then only at the invitation of the Speaker of the House.” However. Its representatives held the view that in these matters only a newly and freely elected Parliament would be empowered to make decisions. they were wearing a “cloak of ignorance” and were inclined to overensure the success of the democratic transition. even if only to a limited extent. However. All players in the “negotiated revolution” were convinced that the game was an open one and that the final result could not yet be counted on-as far as the future was concerned. It was agreed that civilian organizations close to the Communists would constitute a third. unified and independent side at National Roundtable Talks to begin in mid-June. that it was trying to share power with the Communists. although with certain restrictions applied to the organizations comprising the “Third Side”-had a great impact on the evolving political culture of democracy. The participants in the talks endeavored to make this consensus-based exercise of power principle take hold. They attempted to dub the negotiations as a “dialogue between the authorities and society. Their idea was of a two-sided conference. it decided that it ought to take part in the creation of “seminal laws” (e. in the Electoral Law or in regulations relating to party financing) which would lead to free elec- . To a certain extent everyone involved hoped to win. its claim to legitimacy was as problematic as that of those at the other end of the negotiating table.xxii The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy f opposition was a priceless asset and that destroying this unity carried with it a grave burden of responsibility. On many occasions they abstained from voting or stipulated that their “no” vote served only to clarifj issues within the EKA but did not constitute a veto. the Communist Party constantly urged bilateral talks. a compromise was reached on trilateral talks.2~ Whilst the opposition was using all available means to close ranks and unite their forces. In an attempt to define its own role in the transition. after preparatory negotiations between the two sides.

the demand for a full accounting for all Party property (including such as was only managed and not owned by the Party) and the declaration of a ban on organizing political party branches in the work place. since otherwise the Government could submit these to Parliament without opposition-but also that it should assume no further role. Then there were other issues on which the Opposition Roundtable stood united but on which they could not come to an agreement with the MSZMP. the electoral system. Poland was the only country where the struggle seemed to be decided. By this time the Communists had showed a willingness to go beyond the Polish compromise and to accept the premise that the end result of the negotiations must be a legal guarantee of free and honest elections. there were sharp differences of opinion within the Opposition Roundtable ranks which led to heated debates . the immediate dismantling of the Workers’ Militia (with no successor organization to replace it). At first. This is why representatives of the MSZMP were so keen to bring to the negotiating table the issues of constitutional revision. their people had to be present in the more important new institutions and offices. such as the Electoral Law and the issues of political party financing. in the period between the Polish elections and the East German “landslide”-from June to October 1989-Hungary became the centre of international political attention. the powers of the President of the Republic and the establishment of the Constitutional Court. Such issues were the abolition of Party control over public service media. Finally the Opposition Roundtable accepted the proposal to put these items on the agenda. The period of the trilateral talks in the summer of 1989 was characterized by further disintegration of the MSZMP3’ and further headway made by the opposition par tie^. as far as their significance was concerned. a total revision of the old Constitution and the drafting of legislation beyond the “seminal laws” mentioned earlier.Introduction: The Significance o the Roundtable Talks f xxiii tions. they were also anxious to bring economic matters into the negotiations. but had also conceded the point that change might not necessarily take place within the framework of “socialist pluralism”?’ The Communists also realized that for them to have a chance in a truly pluralistic field. even if after lengthy debate. At this point the Communist Party had not only accepted a multi-party system. At the same time representatives of the MSZMP insisted that agreement on all of these issues was a prerequisite for the successful execution of a peace€ul transition. differences of opinion were becoming more discernible within the ranks of the EKA. As far as the office of President was concerned. whereas in other countries there was no hope of change. Consequently. but when Rezso Nyers was elected head of the party this emphasis was dropped and. as it did in February 1989. There were some issues on which Opposition Roundtable managed to resolve internal differences. a stand which secured for them no advantage whatsoever. which resulted in the commencement of talks on the economy.32In these few months the only hope of advancing the democratic transition lay with the Hungarian Roundtable talks. negotiations on the economy lagged far behind the political talks.^' In the East Central European region. In this same period.

In this way the moderate and radical wings of the EKA. As a result of this. since highly significant issues remained unresolved in the course of the negotiations. they would refrain from signing the September 18 agreement and would initiate a plebiscite with regard to the unresolved points. the representatives of Fidesz and SZDSZ saw no real chance for a negotiated resolution of these issues as the MSZMP had already commenced preparations for the immediate and direct election of the President. a still-debated compromise was made and opposition radicals renounced their right of veto. In exchange for this gesture. and even though the FKGP was a full signatory and MSZDP had also signed the agreement (with the disclaimer that they had a dissenting opinion on the double issue of the presidential election being direct and taking place before the general elections) they both joined the “coalition” collecting signatures and demanding a plebiscite. Two other parties were also sensitive to the rapid changes in the mood of the people and of their own members. the Federation of Young Democrats (Fidesz) and the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) came to a decision that. they were given an opportunity to announce. encircled the MSZMP. at the same time. Also. thus making it possible for the others to sign the agreement. in front of the television cameras covering the signing of the agreement. MNP) held the view that the agreement merely concluded a phase of the negotiations and there were no reasons why the talks could not be continued until the unresolved issues could be settled. 1989. The majority of the signatory parties (BZSBT. citing their observer status. the Third Republic of Hungary was born on October the 23rd. However. the radical parties of the Opposition Roundtable were able to launch immediately their campaign for a plebiscite. Representatives of the Democratic League of Independent Trade Unions (FSZDL) also refrained from signing the September 18 agreement. had. The agreement signed by the moderates and the Communists bound the latter’s hands with regard to the Parliamentary ratification of the “seminal laws” and constitutional modifications. On this issue EKA had been unable to present a united front vis-A-vis the MSZMP from August 1989 and so they continued to delay a decision in this respect.xxiv The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f as to when the President should be elected (before or after free elections) and by what method (directly by the people or by the new Parliament). at their “congress of reorganization” in October. This was the very point at which the Opposition Roundtable split in two. MDF. 1989. even if inadvertently. These included (1) the accounting for Party property (2) the dismantling of the Party-controlled Workers’ Militia (3) the ban on political organizations in the work-place and (4) the time and method for electing a President. which. As the Opposition Roundtable operated on a full-consensus basis. KDNP. immediately became an issue of national concern. the shortest route to free elections was cleared by the so-called “Four Yes” plebiscite on November the 26th. and. In order to avoid this. . the Communists continued to advocate their position of allowing political parties into the work-place. in midSeptember. As a further consequence. in consequence. in practical terms. Finally. the veto of even one constituent organization could have prevented agreement. their plebiscite initiative.

The goal was not to “raze to the ground” all the edifices of the old regime and to build new institutions in their place-but to “reconstruct” as filly as possible the old institutions and make them meet the demands of democracy. Zolthn Ripp and Melinda Kalmar analyze the negotiations from opposing perspectives: whilst Ripp follows the changing tactics and strategies of the opposition towards the Communist Party.33It was more than reform but less than a revolution. As Jon Elster put it. This book is divided into two main parts. it must be regarded as somewhat conservative since. it was not unlike the insanely difficult undertaking when somebody attempts to rebuild the boat whilst sailing on the open sea.35It was as lawful and legitimate as the bloodless Hungarian revolution of March-April 1848 or as the oft-cited democratic transition in Spain. it filled old forms with new content. In these chapters. It was free of such compromises as may have slowed down or distorted the process and it reached its conclusion quickly.36The first section of Part One deals with the politics of the transition by focusing on the participants: the political organizations. according to the tenets of the old regime. it worked with the old regime for transformation and. This is why the constitutional revolution could be called a “glorious” one (in the sense in which it was used in 17th century England): that is. These approaches differ in their points of reference. but both provide balanced accounts of the negotia- . scholars of the Hungarian democratic transition discuss the most relevant aspects of the Roundtable talks. In the more voluminous Part One.34 The Hungarian constitutional revolution was a radical one in that it had brought about the change of regime and turned dictatorship into democracy. It was no revolution in the traditional sense. since it focused on negotiating changes as opposed to attempting to bring them about by violence. Kalmhr investigates the transformation of the MSZMP and analyses the negotiating process from their perspective.Introduction: The Sign$cance of the Roundtable Talks xxv It was as the joint result of the September 18th agreement and the successful November plebiscite that the Opposition Roundtable could fulfil its historic vocation and its original purpose-to lead the country peacefully to free general elections. the change of regime in Hungary took only a short time. situations and determinants of political choices. in order to avoid violence. * As far as the institutional and political transformation was concerned. to the very threshold of democracy. Therefore. In formal terms. had to precede legislation. which is to say that all participants-perhaps having learned the traumatic lesson of the crushed 1956 revolution-wanted to avoid violence at any price. Formally speaking. the Roundtable talks could be seen as part of the “social debate” which. however. the forces of democracy got rid of the old regime by sticking to the letter of the Communist constitution. actors. paradoxical though the notion may seem. in many cases.

xxvi The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f tions. as well as by biographies of the 40 most important participants. the Roundtable talks represent a characteristic way of change which makes an impact on post-transition political settings. Schiemann offers a detailed and accurate treatment of the origins of Hungary’s curiously mixed electoral system. Adim Masiit describes the circumstances of the creation of “Party Law. Part Two contains eight key documents from the Roundtable Talks. group in the transition process. May 5. prepared by ErzsCbet Ripp. J h o s Rainer. Florence. introduces a new perspective when he examines the past through the role of historical memory. a bibliography aids the reader by providing a detailed literature list for the field. prepared by Andras Boz6ki. The third section of Part One puts the Hungarian Roundtable talks of 1989 into a broader context. employing a variety of different methods and perspectives. This section also contains a chapter in political sociology. often neglected. Andrew Arato brings the tools of comparative constitutionalism to the analysis of the Roundtable talks when he compares different processes of democratisation in different post-communist countries. The historian. in the last chapter of Part One. Finally. focusing on the process of pluralisation and changes in the elite. in addition to the notes to the documents. as well as constitutional changes in and outside Europe. The second section of Part One focuses on issues of institution-building and particularly on the constitution-making process and the creation of “party law” and the electoral system.2001 . In his approach. This chapter was co-authored by Andras Boz6ki and Gergely Karicsony. He applies his method in particular to analyze the impact and legacy of the 1956 revolution in the events of 1989. Finally. Rudolf TokCs dissects the constitution-making process and identifies different models used in the course of what became known as “institutional bargaining”. and scrutinising the possible relationship between the social backgrounds of the participants in the talks and their decisions at this crucial historical moment. Alan Renwick examines the interaction between the elite and non-elite forces in order to demonstrate the importance of the latter.” whilst John W. M. In his study he uses the Cold War as his point of departure and examines the Roundtable talks in the light of the fast-changing realities of the last phase of the Cold War against the backdrop of the dissolution of bi-polar global politics. These documents are taken from that most important period between March 15th and September 18th 1989. They are accompanied by a detailed chronology of the talks. introduced by Andras Boz6ki and Zoltin Ripp. At the end of this section. Csaba Bkk6s analyzes the Hungarian transition by putting this historical case into an international context.

On the reform economists. Vol. Istvan Csillag. see Jhnos Kornai: “Mit jelent C mit nem jelent a rendszervaltas” [What Is a Regime Change. 8. [Light at the End of the Tunnel] Budapest: PCnzugykutato Rt. Jhnos Kis. Mhrta Elbert. see Ervin Csizmadia: A magyar demokratikus ellenzkk. 5 Laszl6 Antal. University of Notre Dame Press. June 1989. [The trap of centralization] Szombathely.): Issues in Democratic Consolidation. [The Script of the Regime Change: Roundtable Talks in 19891 Vols. ErzsCbet Ripp and Zoltan Ripp. Dahl: Dilenimas ofPluralisf Democracy. Magveto. and Post-Communist Ezirope. Vol. [Beszklii Full Edition] 3 . 755-791. For the application of the Dahlian approach to Central and Eastern Europe. Pinter. [Confrontation and consensus: Strategies for democratization] Szombathely. Linz and Alfred Stepan: Problenis of Democratic Transitions and Consolidations: Soiitliern Europe. edited by Melinda Kalmhr and BCla Rkvksz. 1995. and What Is Not?] Kritika. Ferenc Koszeg and Ottilia Solt: Tursadalmi szerzodks. (eds.Introdirction: The Significance of the Roundtable Talks xxvii Notes 1 Andras Bozdki. 7. edited by ErzsCbet Ripp and Zoltan Ripp. written by MBrta Elbert and Andras Boz6ki. Vol. Lajos Bokros. see: Mary Kaldor and Ivan Vejvoda (eds. August 1997. 6 Janos Kadar was the leader of the Communist party in Hungary between 1956 and 1988. Marta Elbert. 375-395.wig esdyei. Vols. He died in July 1989. 1987. Process.): Lakitelek. 5-8.1989-94. 8 vols. No. Social Science Monographs distributed . No. Vols.. A magwr. 1999-2000. Leslie Holmes: PostComnizmism. 9 This notion was used concerning Hungary by Juan J.Notre Dame. Guillermo O’Donnell: “Delegative Democracy” Journal ofDemocrucy. 1994. edited by Andras Boz6ki (editor-in-chief). 1996. J. Vols 1-4. 3. Larry Diamond: “Is the Third Wave Over?” Journal ofDemocracy. 6. No. 199 1. and Facilitating Conditions” In: Scott Mainwaring et al. 1987. Terry Cox and Andy Furlong (eds. Melinda Kalmbr.] Budapest. Vol. LaszI6 Bruszt: A centralizcjcib csapddja. Polity Press. Monografla. l . Antol6gia-Puski. 1982. 1998. New Haven.): Democratization in Central and Eastern Europe. Budapest. Rudolf Tokts and Ivan Volgyes: “Az apparatus lazadasa C valsig Magyarors szagon” Mozggri Vifdg. London. 5 . 20-37. 1 1 . and Richard Rose: “Another Great Transformation” Journal of Democracy. Melinda Kalmhr. Samuel Valenzuela: “Democratic Consolidation in Post-Transitional Settings: Notion. Btla RCvCsz. Boulder. 1999. p. Cambridge. 1999. see for instance. On the broader interpretation of regime change which includes economic and broader ins ternational political restructuring. Liszl6 Lengyel and Gyorgy Matolcsy: Fordulat ks reform. 2-7. 2. Vol. (eds. 1992. Vol. 55-69.. Yale University Press. 7. BCla Kiraly (editor) and Andrhs Boz6ki (associate editor): Lawfill Revolution in Hiingaiy. ErzsCbet Ripp and Zoltkn Ripp (eds. No. Vol. [The Hungarian Democratic Opposition: Monography] Budapest. 1996. 16.: Ldnpusok az alugzitban.): Beszklo osszkiadds.. see Laszlo Antal et al. BCla RCvCsz. Budapest: AB-BeszClo. 1992. 8 George Schopflin. [Turnabout and Reform] A special issue of Medvetdnc 1987. [Lakitelek. 1-4. 5 . A tandcskozus hiteles jegyzok6nyve. January 1999. Savaria University Press. London.): Htaigary: The Politics of Transition. 6. Perfekt Rt. [Social Contract] A special issue of Beszklh’ 1987.. Budapest. 1995. Savaria University Press.Vol. edited by Andrhs Bozoki. 7 On the Lakitelek meeting. 10 On the Hungarian democratic transition see Andris Boz6ki: Konfiontcicid ks konszenzus: a deniokr-utixilis stratkgiui. S1-56. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. T-Twins. 10. 4 Mikl6s Haraszti. On the historical context of the programme. The prospects for Hungarians. Uj Manditum. See also in Fanny Havas et al. 57-104. see: Sandor Agdcs and Endre Medvigy (eds. 1997. 1995.296-3 16. 1. Frank Cass. 3 On the theoretical and practical problems of democratic consolidation. 2 See Robert A.. The minutes of the meeting.): A rendszeivdltds forgatrikonjve: kerekasztal-tdrgyalcisok Magyarorszagon. 1995. South America.

): Vor der Wende. 1994. Zoltan Birb: Elhen9adf forraddom. Kossuth. [Between two worlds] Budapest... No.. Khlman Kulcsir: Kkt d u g koziitt. Andrls BQlint B.. KJK.): The Transition front State Socialisin in Eastern Europe: The Case of Hungary.. Rudol f L. Rudolf L. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Mbzshk. [The 1989. 1994. Tokes: Hungary’s Negotiated Revolution. Linz and Alfred Stepan. Lajos Phdi: A kelet-eirrdpai diktatiir. SzizadvCg. T-Twins. 1996. 1 1 Btla Faragb: “Gondolatok a magyarorszagi alkotmlnyozls folyamatjrol’’ [Thoughts on constitution-making in Hungary] Szdzadvkg.): Democracy and Political Transformation: Theories and East Central European Realities. Budapest. 1998. cit. Minutes of the Central Committee of the MSZMP] Vols.. 12 Eva Molnar. 1996. S. Istvan LBzk (ed.): Flying Blind: Emerging Democracies in East Central Europe. Uj Manditum.. 1998. A Fidesz a iiiagyar politikabm. [Landslide in Eastern Europe] Vols.): Csendes? Forradalom? Volt? [Was it a peaceful revolution?] Budapest. JATE. 1988-911 Budapest.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Fidesz. Tamls Csapody. Istvan Bodzabin and Antal Szalay (eds. TokCs: A posztkonimtini~musbdla deinokrcjcidba. 1998. Zoltan Nagy and Tamas Vladk (eds. 1989.. Gyorgy Szoboszlai (ed. 1989. 1992. 1-2.. Adam B.... Politikiispuilyn a pcirtallamban 6. No.. 1988-1990. [The Fall of East European Dictatorships: Chronology.vci hnre az Elleiizkki Kerekasztalrbl. 1990. 1991. Budapest.): A Muoar Szocialista Minkaspdrt K6zponti Bizottsdgdnak 1989. 1992. 1994. [The book of Hungary’s last decade] Vols. 1990.): @ MCjrcizisi Front. Documents] Szeged. [From PostCommunism to Democracy] BOM: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. 1992. Mihaly Laki: “Economic Programmes of the ExOpposition Parties in Hungary” East Eiiropearr Politics andSocieties. 1994. Aula. Pelikln. Tamls Krausz: MegPlt rendszer-vultris. Vol. Sandor Kurtan. DKMKA. [Economy and Power] Budapest. ErzsCbet Szalai: Gazdnsdg e‘s hataloni.. Bohlau. [Conversations on alternative movements] Budapest. Budapest. Ervin Csizmadia and Miklbs Sukosd (eds.): Tiszta lappal. Juan J.. 1988. [New March Front] Budapest. [The Making of a multi-party system in Hungary. SzCpirodalmi. Kronoldgia. 1985-911 Budapest.. [Born to win: Imre Konya on the Opposition Roundtable] Budapest. 1996. [Prime Minister Jbzsef Antall] Budapest. 1993.Vol 1. Andrb Bozbki... JAI Press. 1989-94.. HPSA. 73-91. 1993. [Hungarian Waxworks] Budapest. Budapest.. Budapest. 1990. [Endgame] Budapest. Beszdgete‘sek az alternntiv mozgalmakrdl.. 1. Budapest: HPSA. Politisches System. Sandor Kurtan (ed.): A piilia diktatzirutdl a kemkny demokrriciciig. 1990.xxviii The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Denzocracy by the Columbia University Press. dokmentumok.. [Living through a Regime Change] Budapest. Anna S. Gyijrgy Szoboszlai (ed. 1994.: Gyb’zelemre sziilettiink. 1988-1991. [Light at the end of the Tunnel] Budapest: Ptnzugykutat6 Rt.): A tobbpartrendszer kialaktil~saMagyarorszcigon. The programme of the MDF Hifel. Magyar Orszdgos LevCltlr.. op. Progresszib. Lang. [ . Osiris. 1990. Gondolat. 1996. Ivhn SzelCnyi: A posztkoiitinunista atmenet tursadalmi konfliktznai. [The Programme of the Transition] Budapest: SZDSZ. 1-2. 13 Mihaly Bihari (ed. Mihlly Bihari: Demokratikzis lit a szabadscighoz. [From soft dictatorship to hard democracy] Budapest. 1991. 1992. Puski. Kavt. CCgtr. Kosztricz et al. 1985-1991. A political career in the party state and the transition] Budapest. Imre Pozsgay: 1989. 1998. I . Greenwich CT. Akadtmiai. A reimdszervriltcis yrograinja. 1. Ptter Sandor & Liszlb Vass (eds. No. e‘vijegyzb’konyvei.s a rendszei7icilt~jsbur?. Laszlb Lengyel: Micsoda e‘v! [What a Year!] Budapest. Lhszlb Lengyel: Vkgkifejlet. Gesellschafr tind Reformen im Ungarn der achtziger Jahre. 1989. 13 Just a few books from the long list: Lhszlo Antal et al. Kchi. Andrhs Bozbki (ed. Wien-Koln-Graz. 213-225. 1991. Andris Boz6ki: Mngyar panoptikiimt. LBsz16 Lengyel: A rendszeiwiltd elit tiindijklkse ks biikdsa. [The rise and fall of the elites of the regime change] Budapest. [After the Empire] Budapest. [Democratic Road to Freedom] Budapest. MTI Sajtbadatbank.: Lhnpdsok az alagtitban. Lasz16 Kasza: Metamorphosis Huiigariae. [The Social Conflicts of Post-Communist Transition] Budapest. 1993.): Magyarorszug kvtizedkiinpe.. 1-2. 1991. 1995. Helikon. Budapest. 1990. 1990. ElemCr Hankiss: Emt European bukasn. Jbzsef Debreczeni: A niiniszterelnok. Seligman (ed. [With a clean slate: Fidesz in Hungarian politics. David Stark and LBsz16 Bruszt: Post-socialist Pathways: Transfornting Politics and Property Relations in East Central Europe. (eds. Katalin Bossanyi: Szdlanqn-ribn.): Foldindultrs Kelet-Eurbpaban. Zolthn Krasnai: A birodaloni ron7jain. MTA PTI. 1989. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press..

MEASZ). Mikl6s Szab6: “A legitimhci6 tortCneti alakvdtozhsai” [The historical transformations of legitimacy] In: M. Larry Diamond (ed. Pinter. Mihhly Vajda: A t6rtknelem tGge? Koze‘p-Eurbpa 1989. 1987. 2168. 1989. 69-83. [Politics in the name of the Cross] Budapest. 1989-199 1: Beyond the ‘Pospolite Ruszenie”’ in Peter Volten (ed. No. Vol. Problems of Conimrmisnt. Budapest. London. 23 On this. [Jozsef Antall from distance] Budapest. 1988-94. Coleman (eds. Democratization in the Late Twentieth Centiny. Central European University Press. 1993.Introduction: The SigniJicance of the Rotrndtable Talks xxix PIiski.): Bozind to Change. 1956-0s IntCzet. David Potter et al. Napvilag.: Democratization. [The End of History? Central Europe. 1998. 18 Roger East & Jolyon Pontin: Revolution and Change in Central and Eastern Europe. 1997. Napvilag. [A Half-century in the history of Poland. 22 On the dominant ideas of the Kadlr Era see. On the ideology of early Kidarism. 17 Cf. New York. HNF). 1996. Lang.1 Budapest. see Melinda Kalmar: Ennivalb 6s hozomciny. Krzysztof Jasiewicz: “Polish Elections. BAL). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. the Fekete Doboz [Black Box]. Philippe C. 19 See for instance. 15 Zsolt Enyedi: Politiku a keresztjegye‘ben. 1994. Sandor RCvCsz: Antall Jbzsef tcivolrdl. 20 The Third Side (Harmadik Oldd) was composed of the following seven organisations: Alliance of Hungarian Resistance Fighters and Anti-fascists (Magyar Ellenallbk ks Antifasisztrik Szovetskge.portrkvdzlatok. Patriotic People’s Front (Hazafias Nkpfront. Demisz). JosC Maria Maravall & Julihn Santmaria: “Political Change in Spain and the Prospects for Democracy” in Guillermo O’Donnell. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. Cambridge: Polity Press. Tamhs: Mdsvikdg. Huntington: The Third Wave. Magveto. 1988-1994. 1996. see. United Left Alternative (Baloldali Alternalivu Egyesiilks. Budapest. 1997. including the Roundtable talks.. 24 On the role of intellectuals in the democratic transition. the Alliance of Hungarian Democratic Youth (Migyar Deniokratikus Ijikdgi Szovetsbg.1 Budapest.): Social Theory and Changing Society. Ferenc Miinnich Society (Miinnich Ferenc Tcirsasug. 1939-891 Budapest. Schmitter and Laurence Whitehead (eds. 1990. Praeger 1956. Gaspar M. Car1 Friedrich & Zbigniew Brzezinski: Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy.Andras Boz6ki (ed. 45. [Othenvorld] Budapest. 201th Ripp: Szabad Demokratcik: Torthieti vcizlat a Szabad Demokratcik Szovetskge‘nek politikcijcirhl. see Hannah Arendt: The Origins of Totalitarianism. 1999.): Transitionsfrom Authoritarian Rule: Solitherit Europe. for instance. MNSZ). National Council of Hungarian Women (Magyar N6k Orszcigos Tanucsa. National Council of Trade Unions (Szakszervezerek Orszcigos Tanacsa.): The Democrutic Revolution: Sti-uggles for Freedom and Plirralisnt in the Developing World. Samuel P. atlet Kft. 1999. Voytek Zubek: Waiesa’s Leadership and Poland’s Transition. 1989. [Political culture in Hungary. Szab6: Politikai ktrltura Magyarorszugoii. WCber Attila: A Fidesz-jelenskg.. see Gyorgy K o d d and I v h SzelCnyi: “Intellectuals and domination in post-communist societies” in Pierre Bourdieu and James S. Uj Mandhtum. 1995. 71-1 08. Berkeley: University of California Press. New York: Freedom House. 1986. 1992. 16 Literally. 1991. New York: Institute for East-West Studies. SZOT). 192-2 11. and the successor organisation of the League of Communist Youth (KommunistaIjusagi Szovetse‘g. 1896-19861 Budapest. 1939-1989. Osiris. [Opposition Roundtable . 1963. 1896-1986. 1995. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. Wiktor Osyatinski: “The Roundtable Talks in Poland” in Jon Elster (ed. New York. have been recorded by an independent video journal. 1997. MNOT) which. Boulder: Westview. changed its name to Alliance of Hungarian Women (Magyar N6k Szovetskge. Anna Richter a: Ellenzdki Kerekasztal.): Roundtable Tdks and the Breakdown of Commtrnism. [The Fidesz phenomenon] Budapest. SzizadvCg. 1992. 124-148.275306.): Intellectrials and Politics irt Central Europe. during the negotiations. 2 I On the characteristics of totalitarian regimes. KISZ). 1. On the Spanish transition see. . 1992. 1991. MFT). 1991. Andrzej Paczkowski: F d tvszdzad Lengyelorszag tortinetkbol.portrait sketches] Budapest. Medvetanc. Adam Michnik: Letters froin Prison and Other Essays. [Free Democrats: A historical sketch on the politics of the Alliance of Free Democrats. since most of the events.

29 Which means that parties can also run in the elections which did not accept socialism. Spring 1998. Nancy Bermeo: “Myths of Moderation: Confrontation and Conflict During Democratic Transition” in Lisa Anderson (ed. New York: Columbia University Press. David Stark and Liiszlct Bruszt : Postsocialist Pathways: Transforming Politics and Property Relations in East Central Europe. Mikl6s NCmeth and Imre Pozsgay. two hundred thousand people witnessed the reburial of Imre Nagy and his fellow-martyrs on Heroes Square in Budapest. Kennedy: “Contingencies and the Alternatives of 1989: Toward a Theory and Practice of Negotiated Revolution” East Eirropean Politics and Societies. 105-152. Magveto. Spring 1999. all except the young Viktor Orban. or even strongly opposed it. In Andras Boz6ki et al. 2. Dbra Husz: “Elitjatsmhk: a posztkonmunista elitek kialakulisa” [Elite games: The making of post-communist elites] PolitikatudonidnyiSzemle. Colomer: “Strategies and Outcomes in Eastern Europe” Journal of Dentocracy. see Hofer Tamis: “Harc a rendszervaltisCrt szimbolikus mezben. Similar investigations concerning the Hungarian case can also be found. An interview of Andris Boz6kiI Mozgd Vilug. 1989. Vol. (Boz6ki Andrhs interjuja)” [Martial Law and Happening. 16. 1989. pp. 1. Vol.): Roundtable Talks and the Breakdown of Communism. This event later became the symbolic moment of the regime change. (eds. leader of the radical Hungarian October Party (Magvar Olitdber Pcirt. see Alan Renwick’s chapter in this book. BCla Kiraly. and from then on it was known as the Political Executive Committee. Vol.): Transitions to Democracy. 293-302. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. Jon Elster led. Michael D. No. 29-51. 3. No. Romania. 300-83. No. 1996. 1395. 2. 31 On June 16. US President George Bush visited Budapest. 74-85. 27 This uncertainty of the negotiated revolution attracted many scholars to find ways of proper explanation in different methodologies from game theory to path dependency. who gave a radical speech in the name of Hungarian youth. pp. University of Chicago Press.63-76. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chicago. 88-95. 1991. On the role of the non-elite. 1992. Vol. Tibor Ziminyi. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1998. representative of Fidesz. 30 On June 24. 25 For the best analysis of the demonstration. Bulgaria and the GDR. 1989. 26 See the minutes of the first meeting of the EKA. Kkoly Grbsz. . hard-line communist leaders still firmly controlled the government in Czechoslovakia. The former Politburo was restructured and extended.63-7s. Vol. the composition of leadership of the MSZMP changed. 1990. 6 .xxx The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democrat?. MOP). 1989. At the end of July and in early August MDF candidates. Josep M. for instance. 1. Instead of the centralized power of chief secretary Karoly Grosz a collective body was chosen which included Rezso Nyers. and Rezso Nyers and KQrolyGrosz had negotiations with the Soviet President. Imre Mtcs. 1. At that time. Lasz16 Urbin: “The Hungarian Transition from a Public Choice Perspective” In Andrhs Bozbki. scored important victories in provincial by-elections. Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow. 2. No. No. The speakers were “SGers”. No. 1999. On July Gth. Adam Przeworski: Democracy and the Market.): Issues in Democratic Consolidation.): Post-Communist Transition: Emerging Pluralism in Himngaiy. 12. the legal rehabilitation of Iinre Nagy was carried out by the Supreme Court. 7 1-104. Adam Przeworski: “The Games of Transition” in Scott Mainwaring et al. Budapest. Jinos Kis: “Between Reform and Revolution” Eust European Politics and Societies. 2. London. 13. in Budapest] Politikatudonidnyi Szentle.): A rendszetvaltds forgatdkonyve: kerekasztaltdrgvalbsok 1989-ben [The Script of the Regime Change: Roundtable Talks in 19891 Vol. with the support of other parties of the opposition. 6 . 1999. See Gabor Gyorivinyi: “A rendszervaltozas jatCkai” [The games of the regime change] Politikatudomunyi Szemle. Vol. 79-101. 1. Pinter. 12040. See. See. Sandor Racz. 1992. Vol. such as Miklds Vhslrhelyi. (eds. 32 In July 1989. marcius 15-e Budapesten” [Fight for the Regime Change on Symbolic Field: March 15. No. 28 This was the viewpoint of Gyorgy Krass6. Andras KorosCnyi and George Schopflin (eds. 1. Gyorgy Krass6: “Stathrium 6s happening. 1992.

Cf. 28.Introduction: The Significance of the Roundtable Talks xxxi 33 On recent scholarship in revolution. 62. Macmillan. John Higley.. of Eastern Europe] Budapest. Michael G. 1993. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. which means that divided elites are willing to renegotiate rapidly the framework of a regime and to restructure the institutional order in a bloodless fashion. Andras Sajb: “Roundtable Talks in Hungary” in Jon Elster (ed. 7. Lanham. Cambridge: Polity Press. No. August 2000. 200 1. Jan Pakulski and Wlodzimierz Wesolowski (eds. 71-90. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 34 Jon Elster: “Constitution-making in Eastern Europe: Rebuilding the Boat in the Open Sea” in Joachim J. Hesse (ed. 1992. Constitution and Legitimacy. 1996.): Post-communist Elites and Democracy in Eastern Europe. Rudolf TokCs: Hungary’s Negotiated Revolution. 1987. Spring 1993. 57. Basingstoke. No. Andras Bozbki: “Hungary’s Road to Systemic Change: The Opposition Roundtable” East European Politics and Societies.: Rowman & Littlefield. To the selflimiting character of the regime change. T-Twins. 52. 2000. London. .): Administrative Transformation in Central and Eastern Eirrope. 35 Ferenc FehCr & Agnes Heller: Kelet-Eurbpa “dicsoskges forradalmai ”. see John Foran (ed. London: Macmillan. 36 Previous scholarship on the Hungarian Roundtable talks include Laszlb Bruszt: “Negotiated Revolution in Hungary” Social Research. Vol. Vol. 2. No. Routledge. 1999. 169-2 17. 1 and No. Vol. 69-98.): Theorising Revolutions. see Andrew Arato: Civil Sociey. MD. Oxford: Blackwell. 1990.): Reiiiterpreting Revolution in Twentieth-Century Eirrope. 1996. Noel Parker: Revohations and History: An Essay in Interpretation. 1998. 1997. Jaroslav Krejci: “Great Revolutions of the 20th Century in a Civilisational Perspective” Thesis Eleven. Mora Donald and Tim Rees (eds. 276-308. See also notes No. [The ‘glorious revolutions. 295-307. 365-87.): Roundtable Talks and the Breakdown of Comntunism. Burton and John Higley: “Elite Settlements” American Sociological Review. Literature in elite theory uses the notion of “elite settlement” in such cases.

Constitutional Court) 2.2 The social consequences of the (Party finance.1 Debt problem. Plenary Session (Agreements & Political Declarations) (3 delegates from each participating organization) 2.5 Liberation and regulation of the mass media (Public TV.4 Revision of the penal code and the rules of criminal procedure law 2.5 Principles of budget regulation 2. market protection 1. 1989 1. structural change.3 Property reform.6 Legal guarantees for the completion of a non-violent transition to democracy Goodwill Committee (To solve problems in the negotiating process.4 Land reform (The problem of agricultural co-operatives) 2. Political committees (5-5 delegates from the three sides) 1. inflation 1. newspapers) 1.2 Legal regulation of political parties 2.xxxii Appendix Appendix I. operating at all levels) . party assets) economic crisis 1.6 Anti-monopoly regulations. Intermediate-level Sessions Political co-ordinating committee (Defining the rules and principles of the democratic transition) (2 delegates from each organization) Economic and social committee (Strategic issues in combating economic and social crisis) (2 delegates from each organization) 3. Economic committees (5-5 delegates from the three sides) 2. The Structure of the National Roundtable Talks in Hungary.3 Electoral law 1. Working Committees 1. privatization 2.1 Constitution drafting (Presidency.

No agreement on any of these issues. 2. No agreement as to the time and method of the presidential election. Party political activity should be banned in the work-place. county lists. and this property should be distributed equally among the political parties. on the legal status of the president and on parliamentary democracy. a two-vote system. . The Question of Electoral Law The dominance of individual constituencies over party lists. should make decisions on the new constitution.Appendix xxxiii Appendix 2. Party political activity should be allowed in the work-place. 4. The Question of Political Parties A multi-party system is accepted and the new political parties can claim limited funds from the state budget. Agreernenf on electoral law. parity between IC and PR. Major Agreements and Disagreements between the MSZMP and the Opposition Roundtable on Political Issues MSZMP Opposition Round table 1. 3 per cent threshold. a national compensatory list. a 4 per cent threshold. 3. The Question of Constitzrtion-making The o€fice of President of the Republic Only a newly elected Parliament should be set up before free elections. Agreement on the liberalization of the penal code and the elimination of ‘political crimes’. Agreement on modifications to the constitution by the parties. 5 per cent threshold. Equal division between individual constituencies (IC) and proportional (party) representation (PR). The Question of Penal Law Similar standpoints. The communist party should account for its property to society.

in fact. although in a different form. The Worker’s Militia should be eliminated since democratic parties cannot maintain armed forces. 6 . 1990 wire-tapping scandal. The Question of Media and Publicity Agreement in principle to create an impartial committee to supervise public mass media. No agreement. The Quesfiono Guarantees of a Peaceful Transition f The Worker’s Militia should be kept. which was never. . the parties agreed in principle that the secret police should be separated from the communist party.xxxiv Appendix 5 . No agreement on the membership of this impartial committee. although in practice the secret police continued to give information to the MSZMP (later the MSZP) about the activities of the opposition until the January. established.


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who was responsible for the preparation of the talks.1. the Opposition Roundtable survived despite all internal dissent and provided an opportunity for the most important opposition organizations to become interlocutors with the Communist Party during the peaceful transition leading towards democracy. was no longer functioning. it restricts them in the process of defining themselves. Gyorgy Fejti. drew this premature conclusion on the basis of experience there. the greater is the degree by which they should differ from one another. On the one hand. What we can see is that differences in opinion are greater among themselves in a number of areas than between the various organizations and the MSZMP. when the proposal to create a political reconciliation forum (a national roundtable) was on the agenda. which had plunged the country into a deep financial and economic crisis. it restricts the sovereignty of the organizations belonging to the Opposition Roundtable. and the closer we come to elections. First of all. the question of how the opposition organizations defined their relations with the Coinmunist Party was of great importance. since the system itself. the whole nature of the transition could be decided by the success or failure of this attempt to divide the other side. since they are competitors. at the meeting of the CC on May 8th. THE POLITICS OF THE ROUNDTABLE TALKS Unity and Division: The Opposition Roundtable and Its Relationship to the Communist Party Zoltrin Ripp Diverse Opposition and the Concepts of Transition If I am to summarise the question of the birth and future of the Opposition Roundtable. However.’ Preparations had already been underway for months and Fejti. Two interconnected processes determined the way leading to negotiations. 1 would say that it does not look like a permanent institution. 1989. It was negotiation and compromise which appeared the best solution to the Communist lead- . on the other hand. These words were uttered by the secretary of the Central Committee (CC) of the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party (MSZMP). The leadership of the Comnunist Party had to realise that there was a need for radical economic and political reforms which transcended the framework of the existing system. Fejti’s words reflected the Communist Party’s negotiating strategy of trying to divide the opposition.

to the attraction of capital. and this fact speeded up fragmentation within the MSZMP. The majority of the leaders of the Communist Party were planning a system of alliances. their interests regarding the pace of creating a pluralist democracy coincided to a larger degree with those opposition groups which were planning a gradual transition of the political system and which were less radical in their demands. “third way” concept. could be denied until the latter part of 1988. and of those members of the elite who were interested in organized retreat. in avoidance of any violent redistribution of position. Therefore. therefore. The only way to bring about the unity of the opposition was to limit the common goal of removing political obstacles to the transition towards democracy. The ad hoc crisis therapy and the inevitable liberalization remained the responsibility of the “reform communist’’ government. The leaders of several opposition organizations cherished illusions concerning the difficulties of transition and a number of them subscribed to a hazy. However. in a dependent situation. The MSZMP was preparing for a partial loss of power (and responsibility) but it did not wish to hand it all over. the main direction of political transition was determined also. an elite which realized that it had a vested interest in implementing radical reforms. There was no alternative to a monetarist handling of the crisis. and-in general-to the liberalization of the economy in a country which was in debt and. The most favorable solution for them was to start the inevitable political transformation and to ensure that a peaceful and gradual version of this process took place. One of the decisive elements of the processes leading to negotiations was the emerging special relationship between the MSZMP and the newly organized political forces. the containment of political radicalism was in the interests both of those in power. A new political and economic elite had taken shape by the end of the 1980s. to a vigorous western orientation. Therefore. even the opposition asked itself the question whether it was permissible to have a basic transformation of the economy-under the leadership of the reform communists-before a democratic settlement of the political situation. and in capitalizing on the favorable conditions during the time of transition towards a new system. which was also advocated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The era of limited economic reforms was for good by the end of the 1980s. who were attempting to save the system and who wished to limit changes to the creation of a “new model”. The economic views of the radical reformers were close to those of the opposition groups which viewed Western-style liberalization as the goal of transition. which envisaged a development different from that of the West. Nevertheless. with the help of which they would be able to retain hegemonic power within the framework of “socialist pluralism”. which made changes in the economic structure possible. . The opposition was not united on the questions of the new economic system.4 The Rozrndtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f ers to carry out the transition-before the emerging opposition groups were to become too strong. The deep crisis. There were many people in the MSZMP besides those who realized the inevitable need for basic changes regardless of their personal interests. which eroded the regime rapidly.

the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) and several so-called historical parties (parties which had been violently banned in 1947-1949). at the same time. represented by the former social democrat Rezso Nyers. The MSZMP was trying to divide the opposition since it wanted to hold talks on transition with them separately. indicating the emergence of a radical reform movement which gained more and more ground as one of the factors of the process leading towards democracy? The reformers of the establishment and the members of the reform movement alike wished to transform the Communist Party fundamentally. personalities such as the father of previous economic reforms. they had to find a common starting point. Almost no-one took communist ideology seriously. All of these were supported by a new phenomenon: so-called reform circles were founded within the local organizations of the MSZMP. not even those in power. and to find an appropriate place among the political forces of the new system. The only way out of this situation was for the leaders of the Communist Party to emphasize the reform-minded nature of the MSZMP itself by relying on the unique past of Hungarian reforms within the Soviet bloc. they also provided direct assistance to the opposition by putting pressure on the leaders of the MSZMP. The leading personalities of the reform wing who came into the foreground after the fall of Kgdir in 1988 were to authenticate this new face of the party. If the opposition organizations wanted to step onto the political stage united. but also the fact that the leaders of the individual opposition groups maintained looser or tighter relationships with different groups of the communist reformers. It was not only the multi-colored nature of the opposition which created problems. Imre Pozsgay. to play a leading role in the transition relying on the traditions of reforms. One of the conditions of this endeavor was that the opposition should respect their efforts. he lent a helping hand in the reorganization of these parties. What sort of negotiating situation would come into being became a key issue. He wanted to create a framework for talks and co-operation with this organization by involving members of the liberalminded opposition from the very start.Zoltan Ripp: Unity and Division 5 The system had not only sunk into an economic crisis but also into a moral one by the end of the 1980s. centred around Solidarity and legitimized by . The beginning of the Polish Roundtable talks in February 1989 exerted a catalytic effect both on the ruling party and on the opposition. However. He had direct'contact with by far the strongest opposition organization. who represented the new reform-minded generation. the situation of the Polish opposition. The dominant group of these leading reformers was represented by Imre Pozsgay. who represented the idea of democratic political transformation and national independence. In consequence the emerging opposition organizations had to make clear their relationship with a fragmented Communist Party.3 Local reform forces were seeking contacts separately with the independent trade unions and. Rezso Nyers. It only seemed sufficient to separate the orthodox communists from the reformers. Another group. and Prime Minister Mikl6s Nkmeth. took part in the formation of the organization called the New March Front (UMF).

Nevertheless. events had already overtaken the content of the proposed changes. which would permit the continued supremacy of the MSZMP. whilst the other group was euphemistically termed “alternati~e. which had been founded as an independent movement in the fall of 1987.” However. qualified as the enemy. The democratic opposition. if its end result were to be some sort of limited pluralism. which not only rejected the communist system by calling the demands of the 1956 Revolution “timely”. Even one year later. The possibility of a later coalition. Besides drafting a constitution. these principles. the Communist Party was preparing to have its own concept of a constitution and bills reforming the public laws accepted.7 This idea was aired by the leaders of the Forum at a January 1989 meeting with representatives of communist intellectuals. The Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF). In late 1988 and early 1989. thought to . it characterized itself as “neither oppositional nor belonging to the governing party. There were two sizeable opposition groupings during the Khdir era: the liberal-minded democratic opposition was called “bourgeois radical”. However.”~ dominant group The of the democratic opposition published a programme entitled Social Contract in 1987. but also pointed out that a new era had started with the dissolution of the “Kidirite consensus. and it endeavored to gain support from outside.’ A precondition of the plan was the ability of the group to force the representatives of power to the negotiating table. did not occupy an unambiguous political position. or perhaps a coalition. whilst the MDF received protection in the form of the support of one of the most respected reform communists. heretical to the Communist Party. at the time of conversion into an organization. was basically different from that of the independent organizations in Hungary.6 The Roundiable Talks o 1989: The Genesis of Htrngorian Deniocracy f the support of mass movements. and thus it placed the reform wing led by Pozsgay in an awkward position. Pozsgay’s position was strengthened by the fact of his influence on the strongest opposition organization. It looked to such as the starting point for an evolutionary development towards pluralistic democracy. whilst the basically third-way popular-national group was termed “national radical. the wishes of the leaders of the party became illusionary as a result of events simply gathering speed.” Its long-term goals included a democracy based on the principles of self-governance and parliamentary representation! Nevertheless. which radically opposed the system. the compromise proposal included in the program urged the establishment of a controlled but legally-based one-party system. this body was also to have created a democratic election law. However. by the time that this might have happened. seemed to be conducive to a compromise. The March 1989 programme of the MDF suggested that an extraordinary and freelyelected constitutional national assembly be convened.” The handling of the two groups by the MSZMP changed after 1988. The other opposition group appeared before the public with the co-operation of Imre Pozsgay. The Democratic Forum-which was far from being united and provided an opportunity for people with different orientations to enter the political arenawas reluctant to provoke the representatives of power.

that the rapid deterioration of the economic and political situation was threatening catastrophe. and. The ostensible leader of the radical right. MDF about the possibility of transforming itself into a party. This wing of the Forum was not really concerned with the constitutional matters of the transition. which would accept the responsibility of the MSZMP for the emergence of the crisis and commit itself to a peaceful solution.Zoifdn Ripp: Unifyand Division 7 be inevitable by a number of MDF leaders. it distanced itself from joint opposition action only in cases which seemed to be too risky. They expected a long transition in accordance with the realities of the time and continued to insist on the compromise agreement plan of the Social Contract. but the Forum set free elections as a precondition of its creation. They thought that compromise had a double system of conditions: on the one hand. instead. as the opposition organization with by far the largest support. It seemed that there would be two players in the country’s ’’ . The worries of the liberal-radical opposition concerning transition stemmed mostly from the fact that the means of recovery from the deep crisis. which enjoyed considerably less support among the people.. on the other hand.g. before the MSZMP meeting in May 1988 which led to the ousting of Jinos KAdir.* A long debate was held within the. The Network was not able to acquire as much social support for its policies as the MDF had. The democratic opposition. Therefore. the determined behavior of the opposition organizations accepted by society. The populist leaders promoting the “third way” concept wished to preserve the more spiritual coalition movement nature of the Forum. The weakness of the right’s ideas lay in the lack of clear plans regarding the establishment of a constituent assembly. further. was not especially interested in creating unity on the opposition side because it believed that it possessed the ability to enforce its interests even without this unity. However.’ The members of the democratic opposition established a loose organization called the Network of Free Initiatives (SZKH or Network) in early May 1988. To achieve this goal it was essential for the opposing parties to decrease their fear of each other and. also arose during discussion. it demanded that the Communist Party should renounce power jn favor of the real representatives of society. The originators of the Network believed. and its attendant grave social consequences. when it organized an anti-government demonstration-for the reasons mentioned above. to have members within them who were willing to compromise. IstvAn Csurka. and then in November the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) was founded as a liberal party. had to be accepted by the people at large. was left alone several times--e. The Democratic Forum. the strengthening of the reform wing of the ruling party. The radical right precluded the possibility that a parliament embodying monopolistic power should create a new constitution. did not consider the formation of parties and the speedy creation of a multi-party democracy the key issue. it did not plan to hold talks on the transition itself and its rules. he believed that the political activity of the population at large was the most pressing question.

therefore. They also considered it essential to publicize the talks. it aimed at peaceful transition based on dialogue. and. l4 The SZDSZ was already trying to secure its ability to represent and to push through that section of its program demanding the creation of a democratic constitutional state and its ideas concerning the scenario of transition within the framework of united opposition action. and by the beginning of 1989 it favored a compromise for a transitional period. it made efforts to organize society into a form of “counter-power” and had a radical set of demands which truly signified a new era. on the other. given that neither negotiating party was empowered with the necessary social authorization as far as negotiations deciding the hture of the country were concerned. whilst. There was no doubt that this was the only way for it to acquire the necessary popular support. spelled out the arguments: there was neither a balance of power nor accepted rules of the political game. and the opposition drew strength primarily from the weakness of the party state rather than from genuine mass support.8 The Roundtuble Talks of 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f political life: on one side. a gradually eroding MSZMP and on the other. the burgeoning MDF. The first program concept of the SZDSZ. He feared that insisting on a confrontational line might result in unforeseen government reaction. Moreover. The idea was also floated that the government-lacking vigorous resolution in the policy area-might be trying to compromise with the moderate opposition. For instance. therefore. still demanded a constituent assembly. its ideas regarding transition changed over a few months. The leader of the party. negotiations were needed with the aim of agreeing both on an electoral law appropriate for a pluralist democracy and on the political “rules of the game” in the period leading up to free elections. In other words. The two-factor strategy had already crystallized by the time that the SZDSZ was formed in November 1988. It endeavored to facilitate the separation of the various factions within the Communist Party by putting pressure on the party and it also wished to push the reformers towards a policy of compromise. in . l 2 The Free Democrats’ final version of the scenario of transition was completed by May 1989.13In early March. they rejected the creation of a new constitution before free elections as well as the establishment of the office of the President of the Republic and the Constitutional Court. and the democratic opposition. On the one hand. as that of the MDF. the SZDSZ wished to progress transition by way of conflict which would make it possible for the communists to retreat step-by-step. when they made their detailed ideas public in a pamphlet entitled The Program of Regime Change. According to the Free Democrats.’ Nevertheless. the demand for rehabilitation in respect of 1956 and the introduction of a multi-party system could be included in this context. the SZDSZ was already making its point on the basis of this concept. JBnos Kis. the MSZMP did not really want to win over the Free Democrats as negotiating partners. when the leaders of the Communist Party invited the important parties one by one to hold discussions. decided that it would form a party without wasting further time.

in a speech delivered in front of the Parliament building. An opposition tradition was taking shape in the years of communist rule: smaller and larger demonstrations were organized in Budapest separate from the oficial celebrations and the police did their best to suppress them. which was independent from the political parties.'~ However. others also appeared on the stage of Hungarian political life. However. since another organization. severely provoked the leaders of the Communist Party. Its political ideas--concerning a liberal.'* Besides the two most significant opposition organizations. constitutional state and a market economywere similar to those of the Free Democrats. the anniversary of the Revolution of 1848. based on existing laws and manifested in spectacular political actions. it wanted to isolate them from the moderate opposition which was thought to be more flexible in negotiating a compromise. especially if they believed that such solutions would delay the inevitable changes. and the Free Democrats thought it wiser to join this initiative. At first. and did not.Zoltan Ripp: Unity and Division 9 fact. whilst their anti-government radicalism was even more marked.16 Four days later a proclamation was accepted at the Free Democrats' meeting in accordance with the above. The Federation of Young Democrats (Fidesz) had already been founded in March 1988. he urged the creation of a coalition of the democratic parties and organizations so that the MSZMP should face a strong rival and negotiator which could not be ignored.IS March 15th is the principal national holiday for Hungarians. the Independent Lawyers' Forum. but also for national independence. the MDF and the SZDSZ. the situation had changed by March 1989. released a similar statement. J h o s Kis took advantage of the situation and. There was an idea among the leaders of the MSZMP that the . At first the Free Democrats did not even want to discuss the transition with the Communist Party and were willing only to co-operate with those opposition forces which shared their views.I9 The Communist Party tried to separate Fidesz. Fidesz members based their radical anti-government stance on their constitutional rights and behaved as if there were conditions in place characteristic of a normal constitutional state. Its strategy differed slightly from that of the SZDSZ. Fidesz members were not very willing to accept compromise solutions. this called on independent organizations to establish a roundtabze with the intention of joining forces against the Communist Party during a peaceful tran~ition. when the authorities could not. attempt to prevent a joint demonstration of opposition organizations. The action was a great success and proved the principle of strength in unity. the Communist Party categorically rejected the Free Democrats' proposal that the opposition organizations should negotiate with the representatives of power as a coalition bloc. it was not this initiative which led finally to the establishment of the Opposition Roundtable. from the moderate opposition. Their behavior. which is why it was Fidesz which was attacked most brutally. This day is a symbol of the struggle not only for civil rights. They initiated the creation of the opposition coalition in order to formulate a common political platform?' A special group of opposition organizations was constituted by the reviving historical parties. together with the SZDSZ. although.

Hardly anyone knew their leading politicians and they had scarcely any time to work out their programs. national radicalism was also claimed by the dominant faction of the MDF.22The FKGP never rejected proposals for negotiations. rival groups mutually excluded one another. It shared the view of those parties which saw the solution in a constituent assembly. the Smallholders’ Party agreed with the proposal of the MSZMP that “all constructive social forces” should participate in future talks and. the Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Endre Friendship Society should be mentioned:’ this organization was under the leadership of KBroly Vigh. that the negotiations should concern the electoral system and the principles of the constitution-making process as well as social and economic questions. which were still going on during the roundtable negotiations. the party had neither respectable politicians nor a solid intellectual background. from this emerged the Hungarian People’s Party in February 1989. An association promoting the heritage of the National Peasants’ Party was also founded within the framework of the People’s Front. However. and the National Peasants’ Party. when the Communist Party ruled together with the Social Democratic Party.23However. the Independent Smallholders’ Party (FKGP) and the Social Democratic Party of Hungary (MSZDP). According to a statement issued after a meeting of the leaders of the Communist Party and the Smallholders’ Party on March 4. which suggested that a National Committee be called into being for managing the transition. Parties split. the reorganization of some historical parties had certain antecedents. Sharp conflicts arose within the historical parties during their reorganization. but they were also split regarding their relationship with the reformers within the Communist Party. instead. many party mem- . both started their political life anew with a number of internal conflicts. who had close contacts with Imre Pozsgay. The factions opposing one another not only waged a war for power. The situation of the People’s Party was made no easier by the fact that the heritage of a “third-way”. furthermore. could be revived. and so it reacted positively to the proclamation of the UMF. Moreover. They hoped that it might be better to make a compromise with politicians who had retired from political life during the Kadhr era than with the leaders of the new opposition organizations. These historical parties could rely primarily upon their traditions and the attraction which their names exerted. The two most important historical parties. First of all. The leading functionaries of the Patriotic People’s Front could be found among its leaders. Associations had been formed within the framework of the Patriotic People’s Front led by Imre Pozsgay since the mid-80s which now constituted the bases for the reorganization of parties. not completely independent of the question of their relationship with the MSZMP. They could not cite their opposition activities and.10 The Rotiiidtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy coalition of the years 1945-1 947. 1989. The Independent Smallholders’ Party did not have clear-cut ideas about the nature of the transition. and it was difficult to find a balance between the older and the new leaders of the parties. talked of the grievances suffered at the hands of the Communist Party during the liquidation of the multi-party system and the Stalinist terror. the Independent Smallholders’ Party.

and so they had to define their relationship with democratic socialism as a goal at the time of the fall of “actually existing Socialism. whilst their willingness to negotiate in early 1989 was similar to that of the Smallholders’. he emphasized that his action did not signify a joining of the MSZMP. separately from the representatives of power. The social democrats defined themselves unambiguously as being on the side of the opposition. They wished to manage the transition by basing it on negotiations with the opposition organizations individually and “pansociety” coiisultational (i. in which Party Chairman Andras R6vCsz showed openness towards accepting the position of the MSZMP. which were at an early state of organization. secondly. also spoke at this official celebration.or multi-sided negotiations whose goal should be to ensure that “the transition towards parliamentary democracy and the constituent process will be based on the co-operation of constructive social forces.25The Social Democrats were in a special situation: they constituted the only left-wing party. It seemed possible that the new constitution would be written on the basis of the official draft and that the reformed Communist Party would stay in power. naturally as the strongest member of a coalition government.Zoltbn Ripp: Unity and Division 11 bers in the FKGP and in other opposition parties were taken aback when Vince Voros delivered a speech at an official celebration on March 15th emphasizing the importance of joining forces at a time when the whole opposition. nor did it mean accepting shared responsibility for the policies of the past decades. was organizing a dem~nstration. This was indicated in the statement issued after talks between the communist and social democratic leaders in early March. firstly. by definition of the opposition. non-binding) roundtable talks. they had to consider their relationship with the trade union movement which had been integrated into the power structure of the Kid& regime and whose support they now wished to secure for themselves.9976 It seemed possible until mid-March for the leadership of the Communist Party to carry its policy through. after the extraordinary elections with a democratic franchise. The comrnunist leaders considered radicalism rather than the programs regarding the new political system as being the dividing-line in their relations with the opposition parties. the Social Democratic Party.” Moreover. If the MSZMP had been able to have its concept accepted by the multicolored and divided factions of the opposition. In fact.~~ The temporary success of the Communist Party’s tactics was shown by the fact that a representative of the other significant historical party. and. since the MSZDP had been forcibly united with the Communist Party forty years before.27 . since they wanted to close the gap between the MSZMP and Social Democratic policies with more and more radical reforms. He thought it feasible to hold two. They attempted to prevent the unification of these parties by relying on the differences among them. The leaders of the Communist Party paid special attention to fostering good relations with the Social Democrats for two reasons. then the party could have expected successful negotiations and-through them-the maintenance of its hegemony.e.

12 The Roundtable Talh of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy The Unification of the Opposition and Preparation for Talks The representatives of eight organizations met at the invitation of the Independent Lawyers’ Forum (FuggetZen Jog& Fbrurn. The criteria of belonging to the Opposition Roundtable were also established at the statutory meeting. who joined them later. did not wish to commit themselves to creating a joint “top” organization from the outset.32The majority of the opposition parties. The representative of the FKGP proposed that the positions accepted by all should be declared by all of the organizations in concert. the Free Democrats resolutely suggested close co-operation against the policies of the Communist Party. after the previously published statements of the MSZMP and the bilateral talks among the different parties. it would not have unequivocally exIf cluded the previously applied bilateral reconciliation forms upon which the Communist Party had based its plans. they persuaded everyone to agree that. It ~ ~ was not. The opposition had to find answers to at least three. ~ ’ this concept had prevailed. but only for a consultative forum. it was necessary that the Communist Party should create a situation with concrete negotiating proposals which put pressure on the opposition. as well as J6zsef Antall. the major leaders of the party who participated in the talks. The official position of the MDF initially declared that there was no need for an overall opposition organization. 2) What it would like to discuss and with whom. were all firmly committed to the creation of a democratic constitutional state and the facilitation of a peaceful transition. The leaders of the Hungarian Democratic Forum were not very enthusiastic about an organization embodying the unity of the opposition because it might diminish the Forum’s leading opposition role. and it was also decided that compulsory . For the opposition to agree on unambiguous answers to the basic questions. and the necessity of reconciling views with others went hand-in-hand with narrowing e l b o w . FJF) on March 22nd. At first. similarly to the MDF. although the selection of the delegates proved very fortunate.^^ It was no surprise. EKA) was founded at this sesion. Gyorgy Szabad and LBszl6 Sblyom.” they should hold regular negotiations and the participating organizations should themselves adhere to the positions which had been agreed on by all. even if they did not call into being a “top organization. that the Communist Party leadership would soon suggest the establishment of some sort of consultative forum.r ~ o m . 1989. which would leave total freedom of action and the possibility of separate negotiating combinations in the hands of the organiz a t i o n ~ . closely interrelated questions: 1) How it envisaged the operation of the Opposition Roundtable and what role it would assign to it during negotiations. The representatives of the various organizations arrived at the statutory meeting with different or undeveloped ideas. and 3) What kind of relationship it would like to form with the MSZMP and the latter’s satellite organizations. therefore. The Opposition Roundtable2*(EZZenzkki Kerekasztal. They succeeded in having their ideas accepted only gradually. However.

It was essential to the relationship of the new organization with the Communist Party that it defined itself as an opposition. 4. one-by-one. Fejti’s move had exactly the opposite effect from what he had expected. Economic questions should not be included in the agenda and all other issues should be avoided on which the opposition was not likely to adopt a unified position. Bilateral talks were needed. BBlint Magyar managed to have most of the elements of the Free Democrats’ negotiating strategy accepted. The MSZMP-under the leadership of Gyorgy Fejti. At the March 30th session of the Opposition Roundtable. 7. such as the National Council of Trade Unions (SZOT) and the National Council of Hungarian Women (MNOT) were also among those invited. The satellite organizations of the Communist Party. as a member of the Opposition Roundtable. but they set conditions in . It was only from an unambiguously oppositional position that anyone. it should consider the power center of the party as its negotiating partner. The opposition should not approach the reform wing of the MSZMP. The task of the negotiations was to define the rules of transition. They did not reject participation in the proposed talks from the first. Some organizations had to defend themselves because of their “suspicious” connections from the very beginning. It was unacceptable that the Communist Party should determine the participants in. 3. who had been authorized to organize the talks-reacted to the birth of a united opposition organization quickly. They excluded at the outset any negotiations without all of their member organizations. whilst the essential laws of the transition could only be introduced into Parliament by the Government after a consensus had been achieved during the talks. and so one of the basic factors of legitimacy inside the organization became opposition to the whoZe communist regime. that each organization had the power of veto. the dates of and the agendas of. 2. to hold talks.Zolkin Ripp: Unity and Division 13 decisions would be agreed on by consensus only. attempting to disrupt it before it could crystallize. where both the Communist Party and the opposition should decide themselves which organizations could take their place on their respective sides. that is. The Opposition Roundtable should demand that it be accepted in this united form as a negotiator and its organizations should reject any separate talks. could convincingly argue in the ensuing debates. In this way it would be certain that the ruling party would not create an artificial “central” position for itself between the opposition and organizations which were even farther to the left than itself. The MSZMP invited randomly-picked organizations.33 However. ignoring the other organizations of the Opposition Roundtable. 5 . Parliament should not pass the new constitution before free elections. The major points of the concept were as follows: 1. 6. the negotiations. the provocative initiative of the MSZMP brought about a strong sense of solidarity among the organizations of the EKA.

who urged opposition between the two blocs. the Communist Party did not want to enter into such bilateral talks which could be interpreted as a confrontation between the representatives of power and society. nor did it wish to guarantee that all of the agreements made at the negotiations would be passed by the legislature. one of the sources of conflict lay in the different approaches to the problem of legitimacy. the role of the negotiations in respect of law-making. some of the members of the Opposition Roundtable were behaving at the April 7th meeting as if they had simply not clarified their position a week earlier and as if the MSZMP had met their requirements. with the task. were negotiations cancelled. the Alliance of Free Democrats and Fidesz still insisted that their conditions should be met in advance. Frailty in the unity of the opposition showed itself not only in the emerging conflict within the Smallholders’ Party when one of the wings of the party was willing to start separate talks with the Communist Party.3s The MSZMP was still hoping that it would be able to disrupt the unity of the opposition in time. They considered the Free Democrats. and the bilateral nature of the talks.34However. and that this was why they did not want to appear to be too conciliatory. . even if they were convinced that their support amongst the electorate exceeded that of the ruling party by a wide margin. the Communist Party might feel itself empowered to have its own constitutional concept passed by Parliament. Naturally. Gyorgy Fejti pointed out at a session of the Political Committee on April 19th. since it was priniarily they who had thwarted the success of the ideas of the Communist Party regarding the roundtable talks. that the opposition politicians. The representative of the MDF also leaned towards concessions because he feared that. At the same time they themselves could not claim to be legitimate before free elections. The Opposition Roundtable entrusted two scholars of constitutional law. their position prevailed and no organizations of the Opposition Roundtable appeared at the meeting organized by the MSZMP. Finally.14 The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy f their response.~~ The proposal of the opposition thwarted the plans of the MSZMP on several points since it effectively comprised the Free Democrats’ concept as described above. LAszl6 S6lyom and the Free Democrat Piter Tolgyessy. the opposition organizations challenged the legitimacy of the rule of the Communist Party and of the Parliament convoked after the elections of 1985.37However. 1989. In early April it seemed that these hopes were not totally unfounded. It was Tolgyessy who had drafted the section of the SZDSZ program on the transformation of the constitutional system. Nevertheless. the “evil spirit” of the opposition. At the time of the preparatory talks. the MSZMP had to accept the opposition’s proposal for preparatory talks. At the preparatory talks both endeavored to find solutions which would make a clean sweep legally and p~litically. These conditions were mainly concerned with the process of drafting a new constitution. were a€raid of being isolated inside their own organizations. with whom the party had been holding informal talks.36 The failure of the first round of negotiations did not make the MSZMP reconsider its previous policies.

They pointed out that it was the hard-liners identified with Khroly Gr6sz and his followers who were urging an early election. whilst. The Hungarian Democratic Forum urged on several occasions. since they expected to prevail over the orthodox wing. it was especially important to establish the legitimacy of the negotiations. ~ ’ However. the opposition set a target of creating conditions for-and the legal bases of-a constitutional state and relegated everything else to the authority of the new parliament. and the participants of the negotiations.4oThe Opposition Roundtable was divided over this issue from the beginning. The MDF declared in its statement that it would support such a transitional government which would enact the political program of the MSZMP’s reform wing and which would undertake to hand over power to a government enjoying the support of the new Parliament in December. on the other hand. . Members of the EKA debated whether it would be a good idea to establish separate relations with the various wings of the ruling party and whether it would be worthwhile to hold separate talks with the reformers. Imre Pozsgay and the other reformers wished to have an extraordinary congress before elections. This basic lack of legitimacy accentuated the need for publicity for the negotiations and for “social control”-the transparency and acceptability of the process. It was important both to conclude the talks as rapidly as possible and to hold elections at the earliest possible date-for the sake of generating legitimacy. At the same time they wanted to ensure that those conditions would be created with as few compromises as possible. thus helping to promote divisions inside the ruling party. in autumn. believed that an early election would do more harm than good. The members of the Political Committee hoped that they would be able to make an agreement with the historical parties and perhaps with the MDF. The problem of the internal division of the Communist Party came into the foreground with the strengthening of the reform wing and the rapid development of the reform movement. 1989. 1989. but Gyorgy Fejti’s team. In order to do that. and in this way prepare a coalition to be formed after the e l e ~ t i o n . the agenda. in opposition to them. The arguments of the representatives of member organizations were often focused on the relationship with the reform forces of the Communist Party. which initiated the establishment of a political reconciliation forum. both publicly and in the Opposition Roundtable sessions in April. despite the fact that the preparatory talks with the opposition had not been concluded. that elections be held ahead of time. They were holding clandestine background talks with leaders of the opposition and were trying to disrupt the unity of the opposition by isolating the radical SZDSZ and Fidesz.39 The Free Democrats. The reform communists’ offensive gained momentum inside the MSZMP. The decision spelled out suggestions concerning the structure. insisted on the same strategy. the communist leadership made another tactical mistake when it accepted the Political Committee’s proposal at the May 8th session of the Central Committee. which had been empowered to hold the talks.Zoltbn R e p : Unity and Division 15 In the absence of legitimate political forces.

Nevertheless. They thought that the best solution for the opposition would be to negotiate with Pozsgay’s reform wing. Fejti still believed that his party had failed because the militant. the latter might have been able to change the nature of the talks on transition. This latter position ultimately prevailed in the debates. The question again arose during a debate on a proposal to put the talks on hold until the reformers had taken over the running of negotiations inside the Communist Party. However. some opposition politicians doubted the reality of such changes and did not really sense a turning point despite the strengthening offensive of the reformers. which became more and more independent of the party and which promised more and more radical reforms. However. the opposition representatives indicated to the leading reformers that “they would not be opposed” to their joining the talks. and of the other martyrs was fixed for June 16th.“3 At the same time. not as the partner of the Communist Party. Imre Nagy. which meant that the original negotiating strategy of the Opposition Roundtable was maintained. The ceremonial reburial of the executed Prime Minister of the 1956 Revolution.16 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy The resolution urging this initiative provoked the Opposition Roundtable once again. the debate over the potential partners on the governing side was revived among the opposition members. whereas others urged that the Opposition Roundtable be an active participant in shaping the balance of power within the Communist Party even at the price of building a special relationship with the reformers. Finally the Opposition Roundtable declared the unilateral initiative of the Communist Party an attempt to break off negotiations and rejected it. offered better prospects of an agreement than the delegation close to First Secretary Kiroly G r 6 ~ zIf ~ ~ power-center had been transferred from party to govern. and they did not wish to create uncertainties in respect of the front line between power and opposition. the negotiating position of the Communist Party further deteriorated. One of the symptoms of the power struggle inside the Communist Party was an informal suggestion-which became public-that the EKA should hold talks on the transition. The growing prominence of two ministers of state (Imre Pozsgay and Rezso Nyers) in the Nimeth government. argued that it would be worthwhile to support a victory of the reformers over the orthodox forces. above all the Free Democrats and Fidesz. However. The Communist Party was pressed to conclude an agreement concerning the start of . it did not see the situation as hopeless and planned new clandestine background talks with certain opposition parties. independent of this initiative. the ment. In this way the MSZMP failed once more to force the opposition to retreat or to disrupt the unity of the Opposition Roundtable as a result of its ultimatum-like initiative. rigid position of the Free Democrats had prevailed in the sessions of the Opposition Roundtable. but the former had to fight their struggle themselves inside the MSZMP: The aforementioned representatives were also opposed to holding talks with the government since supreme power was still in the hands of the Communist Party. but as that of government. The representatives of the opponents of such a special relationship.

Clandestine talks had not produced the expected results. With regard to preparatory talks.Zoltan Riyp: Unity and Division 17 the actual talks by this event since an imminent mass demonstration was threatening further deterioration in its position. According to this idea. He argued that the views of the reform communists which were similar to those of the opposition rested on totally different bases. and the verbal agreements were all renounced by the representatives of the Democratic Forum. Both sides held trump cards. the Hungarian People’s Party. as well as the Fidesz leader. The reform movement pressurized the leaders of the MSZMP to start negotiations on the transition and it urged that reform politicians should be the party’s In this way the Fejti group. The hard-liners were forced on to the defensive. The position of the opposition was strengthened by the fact that the Communist Party was pressed for time. It was. At the May 31st session of the Opposition Roundtable the relationship with reform communism was again raised during the debate on negotiating strategy. although they maintained that they should negotiate only with the official MSZMP delegation. either. found itself between the devil and the deep blue sea. They wished to keep thefourth side for observers who might participate in the debates but who could not vote. The MSZMP suggested four-sided negotiations as a sign of compromise. the third side of the national roundtable would have been made up of organizations which “belonged neither to the MSZMP nor to the Opposition Roundtable” and which would have been invited by the Communist Party. The only hope for Fejti was that the representatives of the “moderate opposition” would conclude during the talks that the Free Democrats and Fidesz only wanted publicity but did not wish to compromise. A demand for an extraordinary party congress grew stronger. They thought that time was not on the side of the communists and that no concession should be made which might be presented as a product of power politics at the session of the Central Committee in late May. 1989 that they had to act swiftly. stood for a welcome to the emergence of the reform circles. the position of the Free Democrats which prevailed in the debates of the Opposition Roundtable. Viktor Orbhn. the debate touched two critical points: the limits of compromise and the deadline for concluding an agreement concerning negotiations proper. otherwise the Communist Party would be made the scapegoat for the failure to establish a national roundtable. not only be- . once again. and the Social Democratic Party. On this occasion it was Viktor Orbhn who represented the most radical viewpoint. which had been entrusted with the preparations.46 Fejti already knew by the session of the Political Committee on May 26th. and the spreading reform movement and the activities of the leading reformers developed links. At this point PCter Tolgyessy and Ivkn Peto.4‘ The hottest debate in the preparatory talks at that time centered on the question of how many sides the table should have. which was why there could be no common platform with them. it was a precondition of a drastic transformation of the party andthrough it-of the whole political system.

they believed that the transformation of the government in May and its distancing itself from the Communist Party were hopeful signs. The MSZMP had to accept the most important elements of the opposition’s policy and. and.18 The Rotrndtable Tulks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f cause of the reburial of Imre Nagy on June 16th. In this way it prevented the Communist Party from driving its ideas through Parliament by bypassing negotiations. negotiations could then be started suitably after the Imre Nagy reburial. The success of the tactical maneuvers of the Opposition Roundtable was endangered by the fact that the secret service had passed accurate information to the communist leadership about what had happened at their sessions. in addition. On the other hand. It transpired in the concluding phase of the preparatory talks that even Fidesz did not insist rigidly on its anti-compromise position. it had to commit itself openly to a democratic. the Opposition Roundtable rejected this idea in concert and it was never raised again. but also because of President George Bush’s impending visit. that the Third Side was not empowered to veto any agreement concluded between the Opposition Roundtable and the MSZMP. and by the decision of the International Monetary Fund to suspend credit. moreover. had the talks not been started immediately. However. It was also he who adopted an intransigent position on possible compromises regarding participants in the negotiations and their competence. After the opposition had ascertained that the MSZMP was unwilling to compromise on certain questions. In April the Free Democrats had suggested that a government of experts be set up for the period of transition. It was not able to prevent the satellite organizations of the Communist Party from receiving formally equal status as the “Third Side” at the National Roundtable. The SZDSZ seemed to waver briefly when it showed a willingness to respond positively to the government’s proposal for separate talks.. The agreement also declared the principle of consensus and contained political guarantees regarding the validation of future agreements and the peaceful nature of the t r a n ~ i t i o n . although Mikl6s Nkmeth had rejected the proposal. the MSZMP was able to blackmail the Opposition Roundtable by having the so-called cardinal laws necessary for transforming the political system passed by Parliament without consultation. The Opposition Roundtable could be satisfied with the June 10th agreement concluding the preliminary talks. ~ ~ . it attempted to neutralize the unfavorable parts of the agreement as far as possible. Viktor Orbhn was most opposed to signing anything before the burial since he thought that this would bring about a radical change in the political situation. In this situation several members of the opposition believed that it would be wise to accept a June 10th deadline for the preparatory period. constitutional state. However. but it managed to have the idea accepted that each side should have one single vote and. The opposition succeeded in ensuring that the declared goal of the negotiations was the creation of legal preconditions for the transition and that constitutional changes should not precede the agreement. the opposition could not prevent the MSZMP from placing economic questions on the agenda of the negotiations.

The internal struggles manifested themselves in the transformation of the structure of the leadership also. since Gorbachev had declared reforms an internal issue for Hungary. The catastrophic results achieved by the Polish Communists at the “partly free” elections which followed the compromise concluded at their roundtable talks gave a warning also. Experts within the opposition knew that outside help was indispensable. gradually declined. they accelerated the process and the reformers’ position within the Communist Party became stronger. and it was rather vague also about publicity. an important decision of the Central Committee named Imre Pozsgay as the Communist Party’s candidate for the Presidency. . The growing pressure exerted by the reform circles was demonstrated by the fact that the party leadership could not avoid a demand to organize the congress earlier than planned. as negotiations proper began. The hard-liners attacked Pozsgay for initiating the Movement for a Democratic which attempted to establish contacts among politicians who belonged to different parties. Conflicts Within and Without In mid-June 1989. though the Opposition Roundtable rejected the creation of this position before free elections. an event which marked the beginning of a new phase in the history of the peaceful transition. the MSZMP was still in possession of all formal power.5’ The leaders of the Communist Party also had to battle with mutinies by parliamentary representatives since the agreement concluded with the opposition questioned the legitimacy of Parliament and curtailed its authority. if it were to stabilize the position of the reforming Communist Party. Moreover. on the contrary. Outside circumstances also made the position of the MSZMP more difficult.5’ Those who wished to slow down the reform process could not expect real help from the Soviet Union. whilst only vaguely hinting at the necessity of preserving socialism. but its position was becoming weaker and weaker. these things could not prevent the convening of the opening session of the National Roundtable talks three days later. The reforms did not slow down erosion.“ Regarding the roundtable talks. who did not agree with the radical changes but who did not have enough power to prevent them. The West supported the Polish and Hungarian reforms-Bush’s visit to these two countries in July signified as muchbut it expected substantial reforms in political and economic fields alike as a precondition of actual assistance in the grave economic-financial crisis. However.48The influence of First Secretary Kiiroly Grbsz. The bloodbath in Tienanmen Square afforded an opportunity to attack all communist regimes. either. but such assistance seemed politically unfavorable. the opposition continued to attack certain parliamentary representatives by using a legal opportunity for the revocation of a mandate by electors.Zolthn Ripp: Univ and Division 19 The signed agreement did not yet encompass the more concrete topics of the negotiations and the definition of the structure of the talks.

the radical wing of the opposition did not take up an uncompromising position during the continuing preparatory talks. it was impossible to come to an agreement on economic matters because the . attacked the radical activities of Fidesz before the reburial of Imre Nagy. it wished to give economic questions equal weight to political ones.20 The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy f Despite being in a tight corner. firstly. It also had definite ideas on the matter of the three-level negotiating structure. Therefore. The representatives of the Communist Party interpreted this in a way which would permit anything not incorporated into the topics of the talks to be decided freely by Parliament. ~ ~ Nevertheless. Bhlint Magyar justified the inclusion of the question of the office of President of the Republic in the negotiating topics by pointing out that this was the only way to withdraw the bill from the agenda of the session of Parliament in late June. They wished to control the process of change in area of property ownership. The Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Society. the MSZMP successfilly represented its interests in the next and very important phase of the talks. It became clear even a few days after the beginning of the National Roundtable talks on June 13th that the members of the Opposition Roundtable were not still united regarding the policy to be pursued vis-u-vis the Communist Party and the means of pressure to be put on the other side. Biilint Magyar remarked how relative was the validity of the considerations of ReaZpoZitik which had been mentioned by the moderate o p p ~ s i t i o n . although the opposition had already rejected this proposal. The skilful tactics of the MSZMP boxed the opposition into a corner. It was at the insistence of the opposition that a clause had been inserted into the basic agreement which provided that bills within the authority of the National Roundtable but lacking consensus should not be introduced into Parliament. Moreover.” that the agreements concluded in the various questions should be linked together. The delegation of the Communist Party tried to incorporate into the discussions the creation of the office of President of the Republic and the Constitutional Court. which was to define the agenda of the National Roundtable and the structure of negotiations. supported by the other parties. Whilst speaking about the history of the democratic opposition. that the issues of creating the office of President of the Republic and the Constitutional Court would be incorporated into the topics for negotiation. This seemed to be the only way for them to influence the laws affecting the institutional system of the economy and the government’s role therein. The attempts of the opposition in this area were primarily negative. in addition. At that time it seemed that this compromise did not mean a requirement to agree because there was no suggestion whatsoever that the issues should be discussed as a “package. Bhlint Magyar gave an account of the agreements concluded there to the Opposition Roundtable and it was decided. The delegation of the Opposition Roundtable had to accept the formal equalization of economic issues for similar reasons. changes which threatened that the government would make irreversible decisions for the period following elections. whilst the Young Democrats (with the help of the SZDSZ) rejected such criticism as intervention in their internal affairs.

The opposition not only wished to place responsibility for the crisis on the Communist Party.ZoifhnRipp: Unity and Division 21 economic interests and the economic political goals of the three sides were irreconcilable. the opposition had had heated debates with the Third Side rather than with the ideas of the government in the first p l a ~ e . and not on constitutional principles. The opposition also realized the rationality of the suggestion. Regarding an urgent cure for the crisis and economic liberalization. the introduction of an intermediate level between the plenary sessions and the talks of the working committees dealing with broader topics. the electoral system. activities of the parties. than the debate over the relationship with the various wings or individuals of the Communist Party recommenced. One of the most important questions of the debate was: to what extent should the opposition take relations within the bastions of power into account and to what extent could the opposition influence them? The clash between the different strategies appeared as a dilemma between politics of principle and ReaZpoZitik in the debates of the Opposition Roundtable. but these differences became marked in only a few questionsalthough it is true that they were very important from the point of view of power. At the same time it was in the opposition's interest to prevent the collapse of the economy since it would have to take into account the legacy of the next government. it also expected that the West's support of the reforms would be coupled with coercion to implement a political transition as well. These contradictions forecast failure for the economic talks. that is. The debate centered primarily on the degree of acceptable compromise and-in relation to this-the balance of political power. freedom of information. 'Nonetheless. This situation gave rise to heated debate from the beginning until the Opposition Roundtable succeeded in making these intermediate sessions public after mid-August. it had only the status of working committee. Peter Tolgyessy. . there were sharp divi~ sions of opinion among the various organizations of the Opposition Roundtable and the Third Side also. In most cases the representatives of the Hungarian Democratic Forum sided with him. The MSZMP succeeded in persuading the Opposition Roundtable to accept the three-level negotiating stmcttire. and this program was promoted consistently by one of the key players in the talks. whilst the basic agreement provided that only plenary sessions should be public. and guarantees against violent resolutions start to work. but this meant that the publicity of the talks would be endangered. The debate appeared hidden inside minor constitutional issues or intermingled with them. No sooner did the actual talks get under way and the various specialized committees dealing with modifications to the Constitution. whilst the real political debates over the questions which the working committees could not solve were intended to be settled on the intermediate negotiating level. The Free Democrats presented the most detailed and coherent program for creating the bases of liberal democracy. The relationship with the MSZMP divided the opposition from the beginning of the talks. The plenary sessions were designed only to approve agreements formally. Although political debate might be undertaken at this intermediate level. criminal law.

what he had in mind was the idea that the Communist Party would hardly accept a deal under which it was certain to lose power. that no obstacle should be placed to Pozsgay’s early election as President. The motion was seconded by the BZSBT. However. speaking for the SZDSZ. and so the principled position should not be yielded at all. The representative of the Independent Smallholders’ Party thought that the recommendation should be deliberated upon and invoked the example of the Polish transition. The Hungarian People’s Party (MNP) put forward a suggestion at a session of the Opposition Roundtable and justified the motion . the historical parties inside the opposition protested.22 The Roirndtable Talks of 1989: Tlie Genesis of Hungarian Democracy The most heated debate during negotiations concerned the establishment and duties of the office of President of the Republic. a turning point came on July 21st. at the July 6th session. a debate which revealed the differences between the strategies of the various opposition organizations. The MSZMP had realized. P6ter Tolgyessy. He did not exclude the possibility of a power deal but stressed that any deal concerning positions could be made only in the knowledge of the election results. after losing the July by-elections. therefore. However. then the MSZMP might take advantage of its popular politician’s success. willing to accept the compromise proposal of the MDF. and it was even thought possible that some opposition organizations would find in Pozsgay their own presidential candidate. issues related to suffrage came to the fore and the major fault-line between the organizations of the Opposition Roundtable was revealed in the course of debate on these questions. Jhnos Kis pointed out that the need for stability during the transition period did not justify the early election of a president. For two weeks it seemed that the question of the relationship with the MSZMP would not cause friction within the opposition. During the next session.55 The SZDSZ. He suggested that the Speaker of the Parliament should fill the position of head of state during the transition-but with limited authority. it was. The views adopted on this question were related to the division of power and ideas relating to a coalition following the elections. The representative of the party argued that the opposition would not be able to run a potential rival and that if the election of the President preceded parliamentary elections only by a short time. spoke sharply against the Christian Democrats’ proposal and even questioned their being opposition members. It was these differences concerning the head of state which showed most clearly the fault lines among the organizations of the Opposition Roundtable. and so Pozsgay himself should not be included in the debate. Jozsef Antall in the name of the Forum emphasized that a question of principle was under consideration.56The debate then closed with the acceptance of the motion of the Hungarian Democratic Forum. that its original idea regarding elections would amount to political suicide. The Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP)-which was admitted into the Opposition Roundtable in early June-first introduced the motion. Fidesz and MDF were all strongly opposed to the proposal.

According to the Free Democrats.s8 The proposal of the People’s Party coincided not only with the question of a speedy conclusion to the talks. at the same time. they detected signs of a turn towards hardline politics also. who was skeptical about the success of the negotiations. whilst Bhlint Magyar pointed out that the real issue was the possibility of Pozsgay’s election as President. A heated debate immediately broke out on the topic. and. no new political situation had emerged and concerns over political backsliding were baseless. Imre Pozsgay and Gyorgy Fejti were the key players in conducting the talks and their views determined the MSZMP’s position. the debate was adjourned at the suggestion of the MDF with the resolution that they would adhere to the former common position of the opposition but would not make a final decision regarding the President of the Republic in the committee which dealt with the drafting of the Constitution.s9 At the end of July. but also with the matter of holding elections ahead of time with the agreement of the Communist Party leadership. which had already been decided. Fejti. the Christian Democrats at once drew the conclusion that hard-line communists had taken advantage of the absence of . the tripartite talks should end by mid-August and the President of the Republic should be elected before the parliamentary elections. the communists might stand up from the table claiming that it was not they who had caused the failure. The delegates of the MSZMP in the working committee dealing with party law unexpectedly drew back from the agreements concluded up to that point. This became evident in the July 24th session of the Political Committee also when the state of the roundtable talks was on the agenda. for their sake. Kiiroly Gr6sz suggested that the delegation should insist on its position on questions of party law and the law on suffrage. wanted to box the opposition into a corner. rejecting talks on the drawing up of accounts for the property of the MSZMP and their distribution. but they also doubted whether there was a valid resolution of the Opposition Roundtable rejecting the election of the President before free elections. and if there was no agreement. Party Chairman Rezso Nyers believed that the question of the President of the Republic was equally important. The Christian Democrats not only supported the idea.Zoltcin @ip: Unity and Division 23 with the emergence of a political crisis and the danger of political back~liding. The members of the Opposition Roundtable interpreted the change in different ways. whilst it might be more flexible on the issue of the President of the Republic. Fidesz and the SZDSZ did not even want to hear of any re-discussion of the issue. and so they could only talk about the question of which party wanted it before free elections. Ivhn Pet0 declared that communist manipulation could be detected behind the suggestion. He believed that a deadline should be set to the agreement because this was the only way to force the opposition to retreat. whilst he warned against an over-rigid and ultimatum-like manner at the talks. as well as on the banning of party organizations from the work-place. Eventually. the opposition felt that the communists wished to speed up the talks. For instance.’~ The People’s Party proposed that parliamentary elections be brought forward to December and that.

24 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy Pozsgay and that this only proved that the reform wing should be strengthened. however. The Young Democrats came to a diametrically opposed conclusion-namely. there was no need for these institutions during the transition period.“ It seemed that the opposition had solidly maintained its original. they should balance the differences with concessions in various other fields and conclude a comprehensive agreement in this way. Since Gyorgy Fejti took a rigid position even at the intermediate-level talks in late July. He was obviously aware of the divisions in the Opposition Roundtable on this matter. instead. but that. it might even leave the negotiating table.60 Soon the technique of negotiating a package deal became a crucial question.62 . the negotiations on party law were terminated in the committeethat is. was still distant at the end of July. made a statement to the effect that the government had not withdrawn its bills for ever and that. not settled finally. One of the members of the committee which was dealing with the issue relating to the Constitution. united position since the organizations wishing to adhere to that position still enjoyed a majority. This achievement. The question was. Now Fejti raised the idea for the first time that they should resolve the impasse by means of apackage deal-that is. This was a very slow process but finally they exceeded their original goals. In practice. The MSZMP tried to bring pressure to bear on the other side in a rather different way also. The opposition wished to have its own concept accepted and insisted that each and every paragraph in the Constitution referring to state socialism should be deleted. warned that they should not debate who were the “good guys and bad guys” in the Communist Party. what happened was exactly what the leaders of the Communist Party had feared: the chance of agreement was delayed. the debate was merely adjourned. the Deputy Minister of Justice. it was not worth making concessions. The background of this declaration was that the delegates of the Opposition Roundtable had started to review each paragraph of the existing constitution and did not consider the government’s draft as the starting point. a new constitution was born. in the name of the Free Democrats. that personal guarantees could not be relied upon: if Pozsgay could be replaced at any time and the views of the MSZMP changed. they should make it clear that there would be no agreement on this basis. however. For the time being he received an official answer: according to the opposition. Gyorgy Fejti tried to obtain an answer to the question whether the opposition was finally willing to discuss the issue of the office of President of the Republic and the establishment of a Constitutional Court. Jiinos Kis. although not on paper. if negotiations dragged on.

if they could not agree.~~ Very soon important events took place at the Opposition Roundtable session also.” He thought that aspect of the opposition’s strategy detrimental which did not find favor with the reform wing of the Communist Party as a separate factor. it should recommend the establishment of a Constitutional Court. The separate talks with some of the organizations of the Opposition Roundtable were still going on in the background.64Various elements of the package approached the ideas of the ’ . According to this. but more effective were Imre Pozsgay’s personal contacts with opposition politicians. J6zsef Antall submitted a package from the Hungarian Democratic Forum which attempted to summarize the different opposition ideas and mould them into a compromise. the MDF wanted a President of the Republic who would have moderately strong authority. the Political Committee of the MSZMP had an exhaustive debate on the state of the roundtable talks and the policy to be pursued. The Political Committee made some highly important decisions after long debate: the negotiating delegation should come to an agreement on the questions of party law and the law on suffrage. He also discussed the issue of potential coalition partners and stated that there would be no coalition offer before the elections. The resolution rejected the opposition’s demand that party organizations leave all workplaces and that the workers’ militia (the party’s own armed force) be immediately disbanded rather than merely tran~formed. it should insist on the creation of the office of President of the Republic and the direct election of the head of state. who would be closely controlled and who would be elected not before parliamentary elections and directly by the people. He thought it possible to come to an agreement with some parties even if the talks with the whole Opposition Roundtable failed. With regard to the conflict within the opposition over the question of a Head of State. which had already become public. so that they would be able to present it at the National Roundtable talks.Zoltan Ripp: Unity and Division 25 Agreement and Breach On August lSth. then they should conclude a pact with one part of the opposition and the Third Side. He proposed that they should insist on the position of President of the Republic and that they should offer the opposition seats in the Constitutional Court in exchange. Pozsgay gave the Political Conunittee an account of the proposal under preparation by the Democratic Forum. Pozsgay deemed it important to “break the unity of the opposition based on blackmail. Fejti was also of the opinion that. He considered it impossible that they would be able to make an agreement with the Free Democrats and Fidesz. 1989. but he also indicated that the MSZMP might select potential partners. The majority of the communist leaders-Grbsz and Pozsgay also-hoped that the National Roundtable talks could be concluded quickly. Fejti was skeptical-he thought that the opposition was facing an endurance test and that it was not decided what course events would take. but he believed that if an agreement could be made with the Democratic Forum then the Smallholders’ Party would also change sides.

or the disbanding of the workers' militia. indispensable for the transition. The Forum attached greater importance to events inside the Communist Party than did its debating partners and attempted to exert influence on those events through the roundtable discussions. and that the questions on which there was still no agreement could be discussed further. whilst the SZDSZ. The MNP. To make Pozsgay the President of the Republic might have been part of a deal in the interest of peaceful transition. though Pozsgay would have been willing to do so. There was. Its most important aspect. who thought the acceptance of a package a possible form of deal. J6zsef Antall argued that the only chance of an agreement was to make a deal on all of the questions. The Young Democrat Lasz16 Kov6r even asked Antall to what extent the Forum had agreed the package with the MSZMP since it was unrealistic if its acceptance could be surmised. There was also some fear that the parliamentary representatives would mutiny if the roundtable talks dragged on too long and finally the cardinal laws necessary for the transition could not be passed by Parliament. the direct election of the head of state-whilst on other points there were still major differences. the banning of party organizations from the work-place. This form precluded a detailed agreement on the issues essential to the transition and made possible only a comprehensive agreement which incorporated the solution of all of the questions under debate. Trust among the organizations of the Opposition Roundtable declined drastically after mid-August. The resistance of the hard-liners manifested itself several times during the talks. the MSZDP. however.Gs It was an open secret that there were regular talks between Pozsgay and the politicians on one side of the Opposition Roundtable. It also included the creation of the office of President of the Republic before the elections. accepted. the BZSBT. and the KDNP sided with the MDF. Fidesz. since it offered something to the communists when the opposition did not wish to make any concessions at all." The different positions of the two camps of the Opposition Roundtable rested on different analyses of the situation. was that it followed the same logic as Gyorgy Fejti. However. the KDNP. They pointed to the connections between the Forum's proposal and the negotiating strategy of the communists and demanded that they should try to come to an agreement whilst retaining their principles. but it was not a foregone conclusion. The reformers were likely to win as the Communist Party was preparing for its congress. therefore. the Free Democrats. The Free Democrat Ivan Pet0 declared that the proposal was not a compromise plan at all. although the opposition had not been willing to discuss this issue at first. The MSZMP did not make any compromise regarding the property of the party.26 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy MSZMP-for instance. logic in opposition support for the . Fidesz and the Social Democrats believed that it would be imperative to have the Party Law and the Electoral Law. The debate over Antall's proposal both rearranged and aggravated the fault lines in the Opposition Roundtable. but the Democratic Forum did not dare to make a statement to this effect and insisted on constitutional arguments. and the representatives of the independent trade unions were opposed to the suggestion.

therefore the election of Jaruzelski as President . The formation of the Mazowiecki Government showed that a seemingly logical compromise might lose its validity very quickly. they considered as important those which pointed towards radical changes in the whole region. if the hard-liners prevailed. They preferred to concentrate on the dynamics of development and concluded that it was not worthwhile making a shortlived deal at the expense of giving up their principles. if the reformers won at the congress in early October. they were not sure that the Brezhnev Doctrine belonged to the past and that the Soviet Union would give the green light to the changes in Hungary. They thought that if the Opposition Roundtable as a whole insisted on these principles. One of the driving forces behind their radicalization was their attempt to prevent a long-term alliance between the so-called national wing of the opposition and the reformers led by Pozsgay. then the MSZMP might be forced to retreat and only the deadlines set by them would be discarded.Zoltun Ripp: Unity and Division 27 Pozsgay wing in the form of acceptable compromises. They thought that. with the help of Pozsgay as President. and. not only not to conclude an agreement with the party but also to weaken its position. therefore. the concessions would be even more unjustifiable. the situation were essentially different. In opposition to the presumed separate deal. if only because their organizational strength and popular support were lagging behind those of the Communist Party and the Democratic Forum. They were adamantly opposed to giving the MSZMP an important position in the form of the office of President of the Republic. the reform communists also wanted to have a share of power in the new system. as members of a government coalition with their radically transformed party. they considered it important. firstly. they represented the concept of total political transformation. Both the Free Democrats’ and Fidesz’s approach to. and analysis of. It was also an open secret that they considered the Democratic Forum as one of their potential partners. The Free Democrats were aware of the erosion of the MSZMP and wished to weaken its position even more. and that. They did not think it important to hold elections by the end of the year. later. The radical wing of the opposition thought it a precondition for a real political transition that the Communist Party should be excluded from power. They believed that it was not the opposition’s task to support the reformers from outside with concessions given at the talks. they could make an agreement with them then with better conditions. Naturally. which called into question the entire reason for prearranged positions in the roundtable talks. according to which the assertion of their principles established at the beginning of the talks was a precondition for free elections.67The leaders of the Forum were also worried about the international situation. They endeavored to give as many people as possible the courage to cut the umbilical cord which attached them to the communist regime and so they regarded the termination of party organizations at the work-place and the disbanding of the workers’ militia as crucial questions. Concerning events abroad. The communists had suffered a crushing defeat in the elections in Poland.

Imre Pozsgay declared. Dissolution of the Opposition Roundtable seemed to be inevitable during the debate on several occasions since the Christian Democrats. Although the MDF withdrew its package. the Smallholders and the representatives of the People's Party preferred the direct election of the President before parliamentary elections. The strategy of the two opposition groups had diverged terminally by the time of the intensive phase of talks in mid-August. and so they were treating the partial agreements which had already been concluded as parts of a package and would introduce them into Parliament only after their final accept a n ~ e . This stated that the parties would consider whether it was acceptable to them that Parliament should elect a President of the Republic after free elections and-meanwhile-that the Speaker of Parliament should fill this office. it also wished to have this ambition legitimized by the people and was counting on the support of part of the opposition. which had already been approved at intermediate level. it was not only the issue of the President which gave rise to conflict between the two sides. but the front lines had hardened their positions on some crucial matters. whilst the Free Democrats. There was no hope that the delegation of the MSZMP would accept the proposal of the Opposition Roundtable regarding the temporary filling of the office until sometime after the parliamentary elections. in which the question of the President of the Republic was the center of discussion. the Young Democrats. A temporary agreement was made only after a long debate full of turning points and accusations. ten-hour session. mostly because of internal conditions within the party. They wanted to make the public realize that the Brezhnev Doctrine was obsolete and that is why they urged Moscow to denounce the interventions in Hungary in 1956 and in Czechoslovakia in 1968. The MDF argued that the direct election of the President would settle the dispute because no-one could challenge the decision of the people. Moreover. the representative of the SZDSZ pointed out that the Communist Party did not oidy want to acquire the office of President. The .28 The Roundtable Talky of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy was not an example to be followed in Hungary. the Opposition Roundtable held a dramatic. and the Social Democrats vetoed the proposal. in the name of the MSZMP delegation. The crisis which emerged with the flight of East Germans to Hungary-which happened exactly at the crucial phase of the roundtable talksagain proved that the Hungarian government preferred the West to its former allies. J6zsef Antall protested against the allegation that he and his followers would support Pozsgay 's election. The MSZMP showed no flexibility on these questions. 'They set mid-September as the deadline for reaching an agreement. By way of contradiction. that they were only interested in a comprehensive agreement. but supporters of the direct election of the President did not name their own common candidate who might have stood some chance against the popular reform communist politician. ~ On August 29th 1989.G8 The Free Democrats believed that the necessity of recovering from the economic-financial crisis would speed up the process of orienting the country towards the West. Several questions had been settled by the committees of the tripartite talks.

They wanted to prevent a further softening of the views of the opposition. and. Pozsgay was forced to withdraw the promised concessions after the CC meeting of September 1st. In reality the differences of views inside the Opposition Roundtable had not changed at all. In order to conclude the talks quickly. were necessitated by the critical state of the economy because strong restrictive measures were preconditions of a hopedfor agreement with the International Monetary Fund. but the radical wing of the Opposition Roundtable adamantly insisted on its position of principle in a few questions.” Prime Minister Mikl6s NCmeth believed that elections ahead of time. declared that their position was final and there was no place to go from there. In order to avoid this. in the name of Fidesz. The fault line inside the opposition appeared not only in the matter of the President of the Republic. the negotiating position of the party had to be approved by the Central Committee. The leaders of the MSZMP knew that time was not on their side. and Viktor Orbin. a decision concerning the acceptance or rejection of the compromises could not be delayed any longer at the Opposition Roundtable session. their success was questionable because the MSZMP had decided earlier that it would be willing to settle only for a comprehensive agreement at the National Roundtable. Pozsgay suggested a splitting of the opposition with the help of their “tactical allies. the delegation of the MSZMP was not willing to make any compromise concerning the property of the party and party organizations in the work-place. After Antall’s proposal PCter Tolgyessy. one week before the planned signing of the comprehensive agreement. there might not be one force available which could influence Parliament to ensure that accepted agreements would be enacted into law. Therefore. Tolgyessy even indirectly accused the Forum of recommending acceptance of the communists’ views on the questions under de- . However. but the debate over acceptable and non-acceptable compromises became more and more heated also. in December. Some argued in favor of a speedy agreement and concessions in the interests of achieving this by saying that.Zoltan Ripp: Unity and Division 29 reformers were preparing for a crucial conference in which they wanted to create a totally new party and the issue of a negotiated transition was put on the backburner. in addition. on behalf of the SZDSZ. there was hope for a compromise regarding the election of President.7*Imre Pozsgay informed the members of the Political Committee on September 5th that. On September 1lth. The problem of the internal condition of the Communist Party came to the fore again at the September 4th session of the Opposition Roundtable. this body gave a green light only to those proposals which did not involve a retreat on crucial questions. However. after the expected split of the MSZMP. on the basis of information gained from certain circles of the opposition.70Communist Party leaders were genuinely concerned about the possibility of collapse of Parliament. they deemed it necessary to introduce the essential Bills of Transition at the September session. The fight among the various groups of the Communist Party could not be continued at the National Roundtable and because of this internal instability. in contrast to other questions under debate.

even after the dramatic session of the Opposition Roundtable on September the 15th several arguments were put forward both for and against. They did not accept the argument of the MDF that the communists were willing to conclude an agreement only in the form of a package. rigorously sticking to the principles of democracy. It was not only distrust which motivated them. In such an alliance. could not possibly accept a constitutional solution which threatened to lead development astray in the first and decisive phase of the political transition. The deadlock was not broken and so what they could agree on at this Opposition Roundtable session was only the creation of the office of President of the Republic.7sThe delegates of the MSZMP also hoped that the radical wing of the opposition would change its mind. This became clear at the next. on the one side there would be the reform forces of the old system. As the representatives of the radical side attempted to prove that too much flexibility would be counterproductive even from a tactical stand-point. They had strong reasons to assume that the good relations between Pozsgay and the leaders of the Forum might result in an alliance for a longer period of time. the strongest party of the opposition and its minor allies. The Free Democrats. It is true that. but they did not budge from the position which was identified by the peripheral conditions of the agreement with the MSZMP. They trusted Pozsgay and saw no danger or any harm to themselves if the people chose him as President in a direct election. particularly hectic. the method and date of the election. . they were opposed to a presidential system which might have evolved in case direct elections were introduced as a matter of principle. the MDF and its allies thought that the new compromise could be accepted in the interest of a successful peaceful transition and that with such they could establish the bases of democratic development. were left unde~ided. However. They did not give up hope of being able to convince the radical wing of the opposition by emphasizing this point until the very end. Moreover. what was even more important was that they did not want to risk those historic achievements which the Opposition Roundtable had accomplished in creating foundations for a democratic system. The Free Democrats and the organizations sharing their position had reached the limit of concessions which could be made in the interest of a successful conclusion to the talks and the preservation of the unity of the opposition. on the other. session of the Opposition Roundtable on September 15th.~~ A breach was unavoidable. their hope being based on the fact that radicals were participating in the work of the sub-committee which was preparing the crucial laws. since the agreement on the start of talks had produced exactly the opposite.30 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy batee7* they had made their positions of principle clear on several occasions. They thought that such a Grand Coalition would marginalize the liberals and prevent liberal-directed development. However. as well as the duration of the term of the President. both sides tried to suggest compromise solutioiis so that the achievements of the talks would not be in vain. supported by a directly-elected president who would enjoy strong legitimacy and.74 In contrast to this opinion.

he was referring to his party’s power of veto. September the 18th the Opposition Roundtable first held a discussion. despite the bad omens. He declared that the op- . The signing ceremony of the agreement was televised live.Zoltbn Ripp: Unity and Division 31 they could not resolve the basic dilemma. refused to sign it. that the talks could be concluded in the form of a package in accordance with their original plans and that.76 Nothing indicated at the National Roundtable negotiations what was in the offing. threateningly. it was not enough for them to make their dissent public in a clause. Tolgyessy pointed out that they had the right to kill the pact with their veto. since the MSZMP would have no-one to make an agreement with. the Free Democrats had not played all their trump-cards since they did not announce before the concluding plenary session of the National Roundtable that they would initiate a referendum on the four essential questions remaining open. The leaders of the MSZMP. and a political struggle started among the members of the Opposition Roundtable. Fidesz and the Social Democrats joined the SZDSZ. The Free Democrats announced then the form they had chosen for indicating their dissent. Fidesz. Jbzsef Antall. that the Forum would make a separate statement also. However. It now transpired that. at worst. Clearly. At first. Viktor Orbin went further and stated. when he announced that the Free Democrats would not sign any agreement which contained a provision for a President to be elected directly by the people. if an announcement should be made at any time before the plenary session. which was revived time and again. who represented the other side declared. and the League. It was not only the announcement itself but also its manner which created consternation. resignedly. in front of the whole world. Jbzsef Antall concluded that there was nothing left to do at the current session of the Opposition Roundtable except to declare that the opposition could not achieve a united position. the radical wing of the opposition would make a separate statement on some questions. they would refuse to sign the agreement and had drafted a statement justifiing their decision. On the day assigned for signing the agreement. that. Nevertheless. expected. However. but that they did not want to prevent any other members of the Opposition Roundtable from signing it. Pkter Tolgyessy attacked the representatives of the MSZMP in an even harsher voice than he had done during the talks. whilst the Social Democrats accepted it with the provision that they did not agree with the election of the President of the Republic before parliamentary elections. his party would make a declaration which would prevent the Opposition Roundtable from signing anything. Intensive efforts were made for the preparation of an agreement until the very last minute. especially Imre Pozsgay. Tolgyessy asked that their differences should not be made public before the plenary session which ended the talks. three organizations of the Opposition Roundtable. Those who intended to refuse to sign an agreement were also present at the drafting of the essential Bills of the Transition. the SZDSZ. It became obvious that the remnants of opposition unity had been destroyed by the differences. It was Peter Tolgyessy who put an end to the hopeless debate. this is not what happened.

the removal of obstacles in the way of a peaceful transition to democracy. Finally Tolgyessy stated that the Free Democrats did not belittle the achievements-which was exactly why they did not veto the agreement-but that they could not assume responsibility for the possibility that the development might lead to a presidential system and not to a democratic transition. but he also adopted a similarly harsh tone when criticizing the radical opposition. The signatories to the agreement . only to a limited extent since the leadership of the MSZMP had rejected any substantial compromises. party property and party organizations at work-place. did not see any guarantees that the elections would be truly free. with the three further questions serving only as aids to this deceit. the opposition. with regard to the issues of the workers’ militia and party organizations in the work-place. they themselves could not possibly take a more radical position. whereas such an initiative (i. on which there was broad social consensus. Gyorgy Szabad and J6zsef Antall were forced to emphasize that. but also among the various opposition organizations. but it provided the only escape from a situation in which those who had rejected the agreement might have found themselves. but that they would like to see the disputed questions decided in a referendum. and so it. who had been visibly shocked by the announcement. The signing of the agreement then took place in a less than ceremonial What followed belonged to a new phase of the transition which witnessed changes in relations not only between the opposition and the ruling party. The Communist Party had only itself to blame for providing an opportunity to connect the question of the election of the President--on which public opinion was deeply divided-with those of the workers’ militia.32 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy position had been able to fulfil its task. oppose the reform communist candidate (also indirectly). With regard to these latter issues. if they had had to explain why they were opposed to the President of the Republic being elected directly by the people. also used strong words in rejecting such a belittlement of the achievements of the negotiations. the parties of the Opposition Roundtable were in agreement and the only controversial question was whether they could sign the agreement at the cost of delaying a decision and risking that the MSZMP would dig its heels in permanently. The imposition of a referendum carried its own risks. the referendum) produced an immediate attacking move and was appropriate enough to make the many who had been watching the talks passively take sides. The referendum offered the only opportunity for the people themselves to legitimize the election of the President by Parliament (in an indirect way) and. Imre Pozsgay. as well as the impolite rude language used. but that they considered the agreement even more important. Laszl6 KovCr on behalf of Fidesz struck a similarly harsh note. It soon transpired that the question referring to the election of the President was worded rather misleadingly. at the same time. That part of the opposition which had decided to sign the agreement was put on the defensive. He also announced that they would not prevent the implementation of the agreement.e.

the opponents of the agreement hoped-and voiced this hope in a separate statement-that. therefore. they also recognized that they exerted considerable influence on equal opportunity and. The SZDSZ did not treat the MSZMP as a monolithic bloc earlier. 1989. The Free Democrats and their allies quickly collected the signatures necessary for the referendum and then the campaign acquired an increasingly strong anticommunist tone. which was formed on October 7th. moreover. This was the only way for them to ensure that the referendum campaign would be victorious and to establish the conditions for later election victory. to keep as much of their organizational strength and material superiority as possible. In the spring of 1989. their immediate goal was already total political transition. but at the same time they hoped that their transformed party would remain an element in government after the elections also. At the time of the agreement which brought the National Roundtable talks to a conclusion it could not be seen what changes would occur-and how quickly-with the collapse of the East European regimes. They knew that they should accept the demands of the liberal opposition on the basis of the principles of parliamentary democracy. the government would introduce a bill into Parliament which would be in accordance with the opposition’s position. from acceptance as a legitimate participant in the political transition. However. It was to be expected that a radical anticommunist phase of the political transition would start with the conclusion of the agreement guaranteeing peaceful transition. after the MSZMP’s congress in early October. which had been founded by the reformers and labelled as the successor party.were planning to disband the Communist Party and to establish a new party. on the future balance of political power. On the other hand. They thought it a precondition of total political transition that. much more vehemently than they had the Communist Party proper during negotiations. therefore.78 The reform politicians of the MSZMP . which was founded on the ruins of the Communist Party. before the congress-no matter how much they had committed themselves to a democratic transitionthey could not handle the problem. therefore. In the autumn. and they attempted. although it insisted on holding negotiations only with the official party leaders.Zoltan Ripp: Uniy and Division 33 thought that the compromise already accepted was realistic and. They attacked the Socialist Party. at the time when they declined to sign the agreement. that the questions which remained open were not necessarily relevant to the guaranteeing of a peaceful transition and legal conditions for free elections. the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP). they had warned those who were planning to split the Communist Party that they should give up the attempt. not only would the orthodox communist party be ousted . However. In order to achieve this they wished to prevent the Socialist Party. The Free Democrats thought that the function of the reform movement was to put pressure on the leadership and to make it possible for the MSZMP to implement the negotiated political transition from within. The defeat of the principle of democratic legitimization had serious consequences for the successor party.

but he did not have any formal party office. The Socialist Party recommended to its followers that they answer three of'the four questions affirmatively at the referendum. Even if it were true that compromise was acceptable at the time of signing the document. It had long-standing consequences in that the parties rejecting the agreement opened the radical. but also that the reform communist-socialist successor party would be compelled to hand over power. Considering contemporary power relations. which resulted in a more balanced power structure within the opposition. but he had to retain the support of the leaders who maintained close ties with Pozsgay. Support for the socialists plunged. accounting for party property. He himself also established a reasonable relationship with Pozsgay during the informal talks held in the summer. anticommunist phase of the political transition in . It was also a new challenge for the MDF to have to face the appearance of the two liberal parties. and then with the Socialist Party became more and more problematic. if only because it felt that time would vindicate its own prediction. the N h e t h government would push the abolition of the workers' militia and of party organizations in the work-place through Parliament. this hairsbreadth success fundamentally changed the political landscape. J6zsef Antall had been playing a leading role as one of the representatives of the MDF at the roundtable talks. namely that. but there was only a razor-thin margin on the question of the election of the President. The member organizations of the Opposition Roundtable which had signed the agreement. after the foundation of the Socialist Party. the relationship of the Forum with the MSZMP.*' At the referendum of November 26th more than 95% of the electorate voted in favor of disbanding the workers' militia. it was a foregone conclusion within the inner circle of the MDF leadership that he would be nominated party president at the national convention in October 1989. in practice meant the prevention of a coalition with the MDF. The struggle during the referendum campaign was not only between representatives of the opposition and power.34 The Roundtabk Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Himgarian Democracy from power. The MDF found itself in a difficult position after signing the agreement which concluded the negotiations. it was opposed only to the issue of the election of the President. there was no doubt also that this consideration quickly became outmoded.~~ from this precarious position by calling for a boycott of the referendum. The relationship came even more into balance after the MSZDP and then the FKGP also entered the referendum campaign. In fact. In parallel with this increasing competition inside the opposition. The national meeting of the MDF on October the 22nd and 23rd left the unambiguous feeling that the Forum was closer to the MSZP than to the liberal o p p ~ s i t i o nThis feeling was reinforced when the MDF tried to escape . this. The MDF reacted to the anticommunist radicalism of the referendum campaign by edging closer to the socialists. and especially the leaders of the Democratic Forum. were closely connected to Imre Pozsgay. However. and de-politicizing the work-place. The suspicion that such an alliance might be in the offing was well-founded.

On March 25th. Since. each of the opposition forces violently attacked the socialists. two weeks later. by Anna S. pp. 2 Patrick O’Neil.” to some extent. the Hungarian Democratic Forum. by adjusting itself to the radical anticommunist campaign. Beforehand. However.) However. the MDF received fewer than 4% more votes than the SZDSZ.) 4 Ervin Csimadia. This is why any subsequent assessment of the transition must be characterized by ambivalence. 29th September 1989. The MSZP with almost 11% of popular support and 33 seats in Parliament. 1998). the statement of the Central Committee issued concerning the session of September 27th.Zoltdn Ripp: Uniy and Division 35 parallel with establishing the essential legal preconditions for a peaceful transition. the MDF won 165. (Budapest: Magyar OrszQgosLevCltAr. in the first round of free elections. After the elections J6zsef Antall formed a coalition government with the participation of the MDF. 1989 declared the establishment of the New March Front. pp. 1999. Fidesz 22. and the Christian Democratic People’s Party 2 1 seats. which had been waging a bloody war during the campaign. 3 The Political Committee of the MSZMP called upon Rezsii Nyers to give up the organization of the movement in its resolution of March 22nd. A magyur deinokratiktis ellenzkk (1968-1 988): Monografia [The Hungarian Deinocratic Opposition (1968-1988): Monograph] (Budapest: T-Twins 1995). the SZDSZ 94. In this new situation the MDF fought its battle with its increasingly serious rival. during the campaign. Kosztricz et al. the FKGP 44. an agreement was concluded as a part of the negotiated transition: the MDF and the SZDSZ. No. 9. . when the majority of seats was decided in the single-member constituencies. was relegated to the role of a small. whilst the referendum bore the marks of a violation of the agreement. kvi jegyzskonyvei [The Minutes of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party in the Year 19891. 1988. 1993). concluded a pact which provided for modifications to the constitution complementing. whilst those who initiated the referendum secured the elimination of uncomfortable compromises. the relationship with the MSZP was almost wholly identified with the position taken on the question of the totality of the political transition and its quality. vol. Revohtionfiont Within: The Hungorinit Socialist Workers’Party and the Collapse of Coiniiiziiiism. which it won in spite of a strident campaign waged against it. the Smallholders’ Party and the Christian Democrats.82 To summarize. isolated opposition party. (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. ed. 1990. however. However. 438439. one can agree with the conclusion that the signatories to the agreement guaranteed the incorporation into law of the achievements of the National Roundtable. what had failed at the roundtable talks. 1. (Translated by Tarn& Magyarics) Notes 1 A hfagvar Szociulista Mimkaspart Kozponti Bizottsbganak 1989. the agreement bore the imprint of a separate deal. p.” (Nkpszabadwig. 63. (Beszkf6. 852-872. the Free Democrats. and “other alternative organizations” as “remarkable and something which needs further analysis.

1988 when the MDF called upon its followers to stay away ftom the demonstration when it heard the news that it had been banned. 1989. 1989. 12 J h o s Kis. A FIDESZ a magvarpolitikaban 1989-1991 [With a Clean Slate. 1-2. No. pp. 26 Nepszobadscig. 1992. 5-6. and they wanted to seat the representatives of the society and government opposite each other at the negotiating table.36 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy 5 Miklos Haraszti. 27 The Political Committee of the MSZMP was discussing the general political situation at its session on 2Ist March 1989. 1989). 1988.) 7 The programme of the Hungarian Democratic Forum (Hire!. Hitel. 14 The 4th March 1989 Position of the Caretaker Body of the SZDSZ. 22 The guiding principles of the temporary leadership of the Independent Smallholders. Nos. 749-791. 1989. ErzsCbet Ripp. Tiszta lappal. pp. (Hitel. November 20. 16 Magyar Nemzet. in Besztlo hszkiadbs. pp. March 6 . 1. 1989. FIDESZ in the Hungarian Politics. March 16. 1989. delivered a report on the position of the opposition parties and the policy related to them. in A demokracia alternativcii hazcinkban [The Alternatives of Democracy in Hungary] (Budapest: Kossuth. 54-56. kotet [The Script of the Regime Change: Roundtable Talks in 1989. in Andrhs Boz6ki (editor-in-chief). 1989. vol. March 6. [The Program of Regime Change. 6 The deed of foundation of the Hungarian Democratic Forum. pp. Janos Kis. Vol. 9 Its most characteristic example was the anniversary of the 1956 Revolution on October 23rd. 10. and ZoltAn Ripp (eds. September 3. 1989. Fejti did not think it likely that the Free Democrats would be able to rally the other parties around themselves. 1989. 13 A rendszenxiltcis programmja. vol. The latter believed that there was a need for negotiations because neither side was legitimate. 19 See the related documents in Andras Boz6ki (ed.” Magyar Orszagos Leveltar (hereafter: MOL) M-KS- .] Budapest: SZDSZ. 18 The demand was drafted by Imre Kbnya and he made it known at the general assembly of the SZDSZ. 1. pp. but he considered the concept of the Alliance of Free Democrats to be dangerous. pp. 1-2. 50-52). 50-51. 1989. ibid. 110-1 13. Melinda Kalmk. Budapest: FIDESZ. 25 Rezso Nyers was speaking about the progressive traditions of the Social Democratic Party in a televised interview on December 19. 23 Nkjwzuhadshg. Ferenc Koszeg.). 3. pp. Lakitelek. 20 Political program statement. 2 (Budapest: AB-BeszClo.1989. who had been authorized to hold talks. p. 10 The Founding Proclamation of the Network of Free Initiatives. 102. 1999.). he lost his life during the German occupation as a participant in the resistant movement. pp. and Jinos Kis: “What Should We Be Afraid of?” Beszdo &szkiadas. 1988. 40-41. 46-47. “Mit kCpvisel a Beszdo?” [What Does the Besztlo Represent?] Szabad Demokratcik. ibid. Magyar Nernzet. 17 “An Open Letter to Our Friends in Hungary”. 17-18. Gyorgy Fejti. 1988. pp. No. Agricultural Laborers and Civil Party for the elaboration of the party program. 1 1 The Programme Concept of the SZDSZ Szabad Demokrafdk. BCla RCvCsz. 21 Endre Bajcsy-Zsilinszky was a politician in the Smallholders’ Party before 1945. 3.1 Budapest: Magveto. 2 17-220. A rendszewcibrjs forgatdkonyve: Kerekaszral-turgyalusok I9S9-ben I . Ottilia Solt: Social Contract: The Conditions o Politif cal Setrlement. 15 Report of the meeting: Will There Be a Constructive Opposition? Nkpszabadscig. 1989-19911. 24 Nkpszabudscig. pp. 1988. Mhrta Elbert. 22-30. March 6.. Szabad Dentokratuk. 8 The minutes of the meeting. Nos. 1992). March 16. but the MSZMP was in need of legitimizing talks to a greater degree. NO. 1989. Accepted by the congress of FIDESZ. unless the MSZMP was pursuing “a foolish policy.67-76. pp. 57. He thought that the independent trade unions might be willing to establish a permanent political reconciliation forum. March 7. Nos. 1989.

Hungarian People’s Party. in an interview wt the political scientist Lkzlb ih Lengyel. 1999). 7. Lhszlb Bruszt: “Negotiated Revolution in Hungary” Social Research. Vol. 34 The statement of the Opposition Roundtable on 30th March 1989. Gyargy Fejti assumed that the Forum was “biding its time”. Independent Smallholders’ Party. 1989. Kirhly and Andrhs Bozbki (eds.1989.): Roundtable Talh and the Breakdown of Communism. pp. (Later. 52-53. 28 For earlier accounts of the Opposition Roundtable see: Anna Richter (ed. MOL MKS-288. (Role Play) Budapest: SzhzadvCg. Jdzsef Sipos (eds. Spring 1993. 38 The negotiating principles of the Opposition Roundtable were summarized in a proposal which was accepted at the session of 19th April 1989 and sent in a letter to the MSZMP CC. pp. 365-387. in A rendszewriltcis forgatdkiinyve.-Some documents of the MSZMP are published in Csaba BCkCs-Malcolm Byrne (eds. At the session of the Political Committee on March 21st 1989.): Ellenztki Kerekasztal: Portr&vdzIutok (Opposition Roundtable: Portraits).). Rendszervciltdk a Baloldulon [The Promoters of Political Transition on the Left: Reformers and Reform Circles. BCla K. I. 41 The Minutes of the session of the MSZMP CC Political Committee on May 2. 29 The eight organizations were as follows: Hungarian Democratic Forum. 69-98. vol... 1989. 44 The standpoint of the meeting of the reform circles in Szeged. 1988-19891. 33 Bilint Magyar’s remarks at the session of the Opposition Roundtable of 30th March 1989. . 2. 63-72. 7. the Democratic League of Independent Trade Unions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Rudolf L. 1995. 1. Federation of Young Democrats. 3 1 Minutes of the founding session of the Opposition Roundtable. pp. vol.) 30 Jdzsef Debreczeni.. in A Magyar Szocialista Munkctsphrt Kozponti Bizottscigbnak 1989. (Budapest: Osiris.Zoltcin Ripp: Unity and Division 37 288. in A rendszewdtcis forgatdk6nyve. 5/1058. pp. 90-93. Vol. f. 1996. vol. Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Friendship Society. 1989-1990. pp. the Christian Democratic People’s Party joined the EKA. pp. 1999. and the session of the MSZMP CC on May 8.. in A rendszeivriltdsforgatdkonyve. It was later reinforced by Gyargy Fejti’s contribution to the debate over the draft of the Party Law at the session of the MSZMP’s CC on May 8. 1989. p.): Alkotmdnyo.7 forradalorn [Coytitutional Revolution] in Bozbki et al. TokCs: Hungary’s Negotiated Revolution. Budapest: Kossuth. 2. May 8. 40 Bdint Magyar gave voice to this opinion. 1990. in A rendszewriltcis forgatdkonyve. 86-87. ibid. pp. Alliance of Free Democrats. 1.. Vol. ibid. 1... h ijegw6kLinyvei. 1990. ErzsCbet Szalai: Szerepprdba. Social Democratic Party of Hungary. pp. pp. No. 35 The statement of the expert of the MSZMP on 6th April 1989. 201-21 1. 777-778. in June 1989. 5/1063). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1999. April 20. Manuscript for the international conference held on June 10-12.. ibid. Andris Saj6: “Roundtable Talks in Hungary” in Jon Elster (ed.. 32 The position of the MDF was not in connection with the negotiating plans of the MSZMP. 1996. 94-1 16. 2000. 57. Y1058. A minisztevelnok: Antall Jdzsef ks a rendszewaltozds [The Prime Minister: J6zsef Antall and the Political Transition]. 146-148. 1998. 233-292. Vol. MOL M-KS-288. 1. 5/1062. No. Vol. 854. Budapest: Uj Mandhtum. in Attila Agh.): A rendszewciltdsforgatdkonyve. f. f. vol. 1.). f. Budapest: &let. Boulder: Social Science Monographs distributed by the Columbia University Press. 39 Magyar Nemzet. (Budapest: National Security Archive-HideghhbortWWneti Kutatokozpont-1956-0s IntCzet. 37 The Minutes of the 19th April 1989 session of the Political Committee of the MSZMP. 42 The proposal was made public in an irregular way. pp. J6zsef GCczi. (eds. Andrhs Bozdki: “Hungary’s Road to Systemic Change: The Opposition Roundtable” East European Politics and Societies. with a suggestion that h e Pozsgay agreed with it (MagyarNemzet. 1989 (MOL M-KS288. 36 The Minutes of the session on 7th April 1989 of the Opposition Roundtable and its letter to the MSZMP.): Political Transition in Hungary. in A rendszewaltcisforgatdkonyve..): Lawful Revolution in Hungaty. 2000. Andrhs Bozdki (ed. 77-80. 1989-94. 43 The debate and decision of the session of the Opposition Roundtable on May 10.1989).

60 The session of the National Roundtable talks on July 27. MOL M-KS-288. p. SO The resolution of the session of the Central Committee on June 23-24. 1091-1 183. Budapest: DKMKA. two days before the session of the CC which made a decision.38 The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f 45 A rendvzewaltbs forgatcikon. 290-295. 940. 65 The session of the Opposition Roundtable on August 23. 1. 1989. Vol. and Miklos NCmeth... 1989. 2 . 330-34 1. 296-298. 395. 1989 that a “new front” had been opened because. 476. 1989. 46 The resolution of the MSZMP CC on May 29.. Vol. Vol. They expected increasing social tensions in domestic politics and referred to the combination of communist parliamentary representatives with an aim of dissolving the National Assembly. ibid. pp. 1. f. 1989. Vol. and Fidesz voted down the viewpoint of the Hungarian People’s Party. 1989. 511068). 5 in this volume. in A Magyar Szocialista Munkbspbrf Kozponti Bizottsdgbnak 1989. 647-653. 1998. 1989. 511075. 62 At the session of the Opposition Roundtable on July 27. Vol. Ibid. p. A rendszervblrbs forgatdkiinyve. Imre Pozsgay. pp. Imre Pozsgay: “Sdljegyzetek a rendszervBltBs vClt vagy valosigos titkaihoz” [Marginalia to the Alleged or Real Secrets of the Political Transition] in SBndor KurtBn. 2. the name of the Political Committee was changed and was expanded to include 21 members. 1184-1225. p. 55 A rendsservaltris. pp. 63 MOL M-KS-288.. 2. 2. pp. in A rendszewultdsforgatbkonyve.. pp. 223-225. 61 Ibid. 36.yve. the SZDSZ. the Christian Democratic Party. 66 Imre Pozsgay later recalled that he had had regular contacts with the leaders of the MDF during the negotiations. kvi jegyzfikonyvei. pp. 53 The session of the Opposition Roundtable on June 15. p. notably the National Council of the Trade Unions (SZOT) was more an obstacle to the agreement than the opposition. pp. 57 According to the Hungarian People’s Party. 5/1075. f. 252-275. A Magyar Szocialista Munkbspdrt Kozponti Bizottsbganak 1989.). 55. 1989 set October as the date of the special congress. and the pressure exerted by the orthodox communist countries. See Document No. 1989. p. 51 Gyorgy Szabad repeatedly made this position clear in the letter of intent of the Opposition Roundtable at the plenary session of the National Roundtable talks on June 21. At the same time. MOL M-KS-288. 641. 56 Ibid. Magyarorszhg dvfizedkbnyve 1988-1998 [Hungary’s Decade Book 1988-19981. 1989 under the leadership of Rezso Nyers. Vol. (MOL M-KS288. 47 The text of the agreement is Document No. kvi jegyzG-onwei. 1989. The Social Democratic Party did not participate in the sessions at that time because of internal conflicts.Vol. 1989. 478497. the Third Side. 58 Ibid. kvi jegvzh’kon-yvei. A Magyar Szocialista Munkaspbrt Kozponti Bizottscigbnak 1989. the deterioration of the foreign political conditions was marked by strikes and ethnic tensions in the Soviet Union. 3. whilst the other members were First Secretary Kkoly Grosz. at the economic talks. 2 in this volume. 52 BBlint Magyar made a remark to Ambassador Mark Palmer referring to this situation when the American diplomat visited the Opposition Roundtable. pp. . 2. 64 The text of the package submitted on August 17. f. p. but he denied that they had made a deal. 2. 48 The MSZMP CC elected a four-member party presidium at the session of June 23-24. Vol. the Independent Smallholders’ Party.forgatdkonyve. 59 The Minutes of the session of the MSZMP Political Executive Committee on July 24. f. pp. in A rendszei-rdtdsforgatdkunyve. ibid. the MDF. 511072. 49 The Minutes ofthe session of the MSZMP Political Committee on June 13. Vol. 54 KBroly Grosz also pointed out at the session of the MSZMP Political Executive Committee on August 15. and the Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Society. PCter Sandor and LBsz16 Vass (eds.

and 5/1077. pp. “1989: A vig esztendii” [A Merry Year] Besze‘lb’. Vol. 1989. see Document No. Vol. Vol. 421-423. ibid. pp. 5. but beside him so that the people would be able to choose between good and better. who was elected president. 4. f.. reconciliation in the other three open issues could be continued. 1989. Vol. 72 The session of the Opposition Roundtable on September 1 1 . 10. 81 Ibid. They believed that. pp. 73 The session of the National Roundtable talks on September 1 1 . 4. in A rendszervciltds forgatdkonyve. . and September 5. pp.November 24. pp. No. 6 in this volume. pp. pp. 1989.1989. 4. 235. forgatdkonyve. “1989: A vig esztendo” [A Merry Year] Besze‘lb’. which was handed to the Soviet Ambassador to Budapest on August 18. 70 The remarks made at the session of the Opposition Roundtable on September 4. 1989. 5/1076. in A rendszendtrjs forgatdkonyve. 380-390. 56-77. 78 The statement of the parties which signed the agreement made on September 18. Vol. 3. 1989. 69 The session of the National Roundtable talks on August 25. 82 Janos Kis. 1989. if the proposal for legitimizing the president with a direct election were abandoned.. 1999. 74 Janos Kis. if they could agree in this question. July 4. 39. 317-320. Ne‘pszabadsbg. p. 38-39. p. in A rendszervdltasforgatdkonyve. Vol. 43. 75 Janos Kis wrote that they had wanted to make a compromise even at the last minute. 4. p. 68 The letter of the SZDSZ to Mikhail Gorbachev. No. pp. 10. 5 12-5 13. declared: “there cannot be a stable coalition serving the interests of the nation without the MSZP now or in the future. 79 Jozsef Antall.Zoltbn Ripp: Unity and Division 39 67 Imre Pozsgay made a statement on this and the Hungarian press published his interview in Der Spiegel in MagVar Nemzet. 644-654. 1989. 1989. Ibid. 1989. in A rendszervultasforgatdkonyve. in A rendszervdtasforgatdkonyve. They suggested to the MDF that they would sign the agreement. 76 A rend~zervbltus 77 The plenary session of the National Roundtable talks on September 18. 71 The Minutes of the sessions of the MSZMP Political Committee on August 3 1. 80 The viewpoint of the presidium of the Hungarian Democratic Forum on November 13.” Istvan Csurka commented on the election of Lajos Fur as the MDF’s candidate for the President of the Republic that he was not chosen against Pozsgay. 1989. MOL M-KS-288. 1999. 274-275..

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were merely accumulating debt and-as a result of declining living standards-an increase in social tension.. Mihiily Jass6. and whose course the local communist parties would have to control as far as possible. the experts of both teams agreed that the economic and political situation in both Hungary and Poland had deteriorated dramatically and that. Nonetheless. seeing that the empire was already on the decline. the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party (MSZMP) and the Polish United Worker’s Party (PZPR) would have no choice bqt to legalize the opposition and to involve some part of it in the exercise of power in some way. in any event. the communist systems had exhausted their economic reserves. Among these scenarios. they hoped that socialism had become so deeply rooted in East- ..we neither wanted nor want to reorganize or to accomplish pluralism. 1989 meeting of the MSZMP Politburo Parliamentary or Presidential Socialism By the beginning of the 1980s. developments were heading towards a multiparty system. since these two countries were already the furthest advanced toward the implementation of change. “reforms”and did so only at the end of the decade. as a result. completed in February 1989. among others.. In October 1988 the Soviet party leadership decided to establish a committee to evaluate the current situation and to develop proposals to co-ordinate the necessary measures for handling the crisis.. worked out various scenarios attempting to predict the events which were soon expected to unfold in the countries of the socialist camp. at a point when a change from the old system to something new seemed inevitable. The International Committee commissioned. At the beginning of 1989 Soviet leaders hired advisers who. They were in no doubt that. they were rather reluctant to introduce changes-or. in the phraseology of the time. those which analyzed the prospects for Hungary and Poland were of primary importance. the Department of International Relations (DIR) of the CPSU CC and the Bogomolov Institute to provide strategic-political forecasts for the Coinmittee. but rather to find a way of dealing with it . at the February 7th. but with respect to pluralism.From ‘Model Change’ to Regime Change: The Metamorphosis of the MSZMP’s Tactics in the Democratic Transition Melinda Kalmbr .’ In their reports.

In Poland the Central Committee of the PZPR-after negotiating and maneuvering . centralized power. in the words of the Hungarian party leaders at home. “the situation might develop in quite unexpected directions. and which would lead to a mixed economic system and to the involvement. In Hungary.” In evaluating the political conditions at the beginning of 1989. of some part of the opposition in the exercise of power. in the first half of 1989. The more pessimistic forecast. For this reason. the report said. the possibility of being forced to re-introduce martial law could not be excluded. predicted that the influence of the conservative forces in the party would grow. that this would significantly reduce the MSZMP’s chances in the forthcoming elections and that one result of this would be to yield the initiator role to the opposition. A basic precondition of even the most optimistic scenario was to permit opposition organizations to appear as legal negotiators on the political scene. In the pessimistic scenario envisaged by the DIR of the CPSU Central Committee these changes would occur in the form of a reactive process. eventually drifting to the periphery of political life. As for Hungary. based on strong. guaranteeing these countries’ further avoidance of foreign policy hostile to the Soviet Union.” The optimistic scenario produced by the Bogomolov Institute had a similar assessment of the possibility of achieving agreement for managing the crisis in Poland. even within the framework of a multi-party system. the experts from the Soviet leadership would welcome a form of “parliamentary or presidential socialism” in both Poland and Hungary. in which the party would be forced to make more and more concessions. the January 10th-11 th session of the Hungarian Parliament passed the Law of Public Meetings and Assemblies. This process would “urge the opposition to make increasingly heavy demands. Instead. and that it would then gradually form a coalition with the social democratic movement. however. they believed that the transition would most likely be gradual-or. paving the way for society to abandon socialism. the institute’s experts believed that the most likely outcome was that the MSZMP’s reformist wing would become stronger within the leadership. however. “organic. Polish society had already become tired of the constant crisis. Consequently. which made it possible to establish political parties. also considered it conceivable that roundtable talks might come to a deadlock. on the other hand. Consequently.42 The Rormdtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy Central European societies that a rapid transition into something entirely different was not to be expected. and that a protracted crisis would emerge. the most important task of the PZPR and MSZMP was to prepare for a partial and “controlled” division of power and to win the opposition’s consent to this in negotiations. and thus the PZPR could elaborate a “constructive co-operation” with the opposition. a new model. which would take place under the initiation and direction of the communist party. To this effect. the DIR of the CPSU CC believed that organic development could primarily be relied upon in Poland. The pessimistic version. based on mutual negotiations and agreement.” The optimal scenario for the Soviets entailed “smooth” democratization.

due to the need to carry out a number of pressing and essentially unpopular tasks in economic management. To this effect. somewhat Dodonaean and vague attempt to achieve this. the economic stabilization program would bring some results. In a first. the party meeting announced that it envisaged an inevitable establishment of socialist market economy within the social framework of socialist pluralism based on “the leading role of the party. One-party Pluralism or a Multi-party System The MSZMP’s journey from the declaration of pluralism to the recognition of the multi-party system was by no means spectacular. whilst at the same time trying to maintain social stability and a sense of societal satisfaction. they did not appear to pose any danger for the system in the short term. in any event. in December 1987 they recognized that it was impossible to wait until the next scheduled party congress and they decided. In other words. Although the leadership of the MSZMP did take some steps towards political reform-as was shown later by the amendment of the constitution and the bills under preparation-they also hoped that in the meantime. 1988 party conference were rather cautious and did not seriously attempt to anticipate events. over-ambitious.” Underlying this vague statement was an obvious attempt to play for time. but. the declarations made by this May. 1989.Mehnda Kalmrjr: From ‘Model Change’ to Regime Change 43 with the opposition for half a year-published its position on the issues of political and trade union pluralism on January 16th-l7th. with the help of these modified or new laws. under the current circumstances. in harmony with a similar Soviet decision. These cautious steps notwithstanding. With the removal of legal obstacles in both countries. then the MSZMP could emerge from the general crisis with no significant loss of prestige and without having to introduce a real division of power. Not only did the growth and stabilization predicted at the Congress fail to materialize. if this could be combined with delayed and limited political reform. it was quite clear that the MSZMP had no other choice but to experiment with some kind of a division of power. in the second half of 1987 even the highest-ranking leaders of the party came to recognize openly that the system was in a state of total and general crisis. and both parties could begin to implement their optimal and most optimistic scenarios. as a result of continuingly misguided economic policy. and that more radical and serious changes and reforms were required to maintain the socialist structure. As a result. and that. Therefore-in spite of the fact that work on the modernization of the constitution and the intro- . the asynchronism between economic and political reform could be maintained in the longer term.*thereby acknowledging Solidarity as a legal organization. what they hoped for was that. The policy statement of the 1985 Congress of the MSZMP promised solutions which were optimistic for that period and. to hold a special party meeting3 Despite the replacement of Kadar and the reorganization of the Politburo. however. roundtable negotiations could be held with the participation of the newly legalized organizations.

seemingly unexpected. since the MSZMP itself also wished to evaluate the issue accurately. and economic processes. the members of the Politburo came to the conclusion that their official position should be that there was no Pozsgay issue. Almost immediately the debate on the issue was transformed into a debate not only on the past. the party leadership commissioned four teams to analyze political. The first obvious turn in MSZMP policy occurred as the result of an “incident” within the party itself. When the MSZMP Politburo dealt with the Pozsgay issue at a January 3 1st special session ‘and at a normal session on February the 7th it became clear that the party leaders did not want to risk openly criticizing Imre Pozsgay for his perverse behavior. Imre Pozsgay violated this unwritten rule of procedure when he announced during an interview with the radio program 168 Ora (168 Hours) that the committee regarded 1956 as “a people’s uprising”. nominal division of power within a one-party system. The events which took place in foreign and home policy during the first few months of 1989. indirectly. . so that no one would know what the party knew but only what the party wanted them to know. It is most likely that they were afraid that in the “charisma vacuum” following the fall of Khdar. or. Until February 1989 the party leadership held the spoken and unspoken conviction that. social. 1989. in June 1988. Perhaps the January Pozsgay announcement was just a pretext on the part of some of the more “initiative-minded” leaders of the MSZMP. Therefore. They discussed in detail what choreography and rhetoric would be appropriate to make the-by now rather unpredictable-Central Committee accept and understand their position on the issue. in the historically near future pluralism would mean no more than some kind of corporate. and it was for this same reason that. brought about sudden and ever-increasing changes in Hungarian home policy. which made it possible for party leaders to publicize their views without first requesting permission-made public the position of the “historic sub-committee” working for the Central Committee. These internal analyses. however. reactions in the Politburo. many party members viewed Pozsgay as such a central figure. at least. but on the inevitability of a radical change of views. The problem lay not in the content of Pozsgay’s views. forced the party leadership to reconsider their position and to attempt a more straightforward answer to the challenges faced by the socialist camp. Expert analyses usually had to undergo political screening first. however. relating to 1956. since they feared that such a move would reveal that the party no longer had any genuine center. and to provide an evaluation of the past also.44 The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f duction of the party law was already underway-until the spring of 1989 the MSZMP had n o concrete or final ideas concerning the target of the political transition. but it is a fact that this announcement provoked and catalyzed various developments within the party and thus. On January 28th. were never intended to be made public in their original form. This announcement evoked unexpected. made at the end of 1988. when Imre Pozsgay-capitalizing on the MSZMP’s Central Committee resolution.

Politburo meeting Imre Pozsgay described the period just past-one of scarcely ten months-as one in which there had been some hope for pluralism within a one-party system. According to party leader KBroly Grbsz. the first stage was to last until December 1990. in place since May. what should we do now with this one-party system [or] multi-party system. in accordance with their own conscience. and if we decide that we do not want to endorse it. [. what was striking in the course of events was not this incident. the various platforms had been given a chance to manifest themselves openly within the party. in the transitional period which was to follow.’ head of the. Imre Nagy..K. to be frank.League of Communist Youth (KISZ). 1989. In accordance with the generally-accepted Soviet scenario for the whole of Eastern Europe. as far as he was concerned. He.Melinda Kalmar: From ‘Model Change’ to Regime Change 45 However. The pressure of those external “streams” which had begun to be organized at that time. was already thinking in terms of a new trend-a new discourse.] And someday we will have to do it anyway”. but rather another which occurred at the January 3 1st Politburo meeting when Rezso Nyers suddenly---out of the blue and in the heat of discussion-declared that. estimated to last perhaps five years. whether they can or cannot endorse it politically. he would not object to having a multi-party system. Events have overtaken us by now.. [. then we don’t. we should also somehow take the whole problem. the essence of the concrete problem. the Pozsgay issue-M.]4 This unexpected proposal was quickly followed by a political declaration. a long transition period was planned-or at least one lasting much longer than that which soon took place in fact did. and this declaration was then made at the 1989 February 10th-1 lth meeting of the Central Committee.. Therefore. who belonged to the younger generation. as it wereaimed at transforming society. I do. At the February 7th Politburo meeting the agenda dealing with current political issues and the reform of the political system treated as a fact-a reality-the party’s acceptance in principle of the declaration of a multi-party system. 1988. But let’s discuss this issue. even if you do not agree with it. there were divisions within the party based on generational differences. was so strong that this chance had been lost for ever. This view met with the support of the whole body. I do not see any other possibility than to recognize the multi-party system. to the Central Committee. Long Transition-a New Model The time of the wait-and-see policy. some form of multi-party system had to be established which could guarantee the MSZMP’s leading role. As for the stages of the transition. was therefore over. At the February 7th. and then everyone should decide for themselves. I’d endorse it. that is. believed rather that the end of the first . which was the scheduled time for the next party congress..]. during the period in question. however. So what we need here is that together with this [that is. provided that. therefore.

when the next parliamentary elections would take place. in April. . ” ~ hint The did not produce a lively response and the body continued to think in terms of legal and political solutions. were the PZPR to achieve poor results in the elections. whilst the seats in the Sejm would be decided well before the election by means of a process of negotiation and compromise. by personal consultations with the leaders of the PZPR in Poland: firstly. by the secretary of the Central Committee. however. here political means must be [ u ~ e d ] . (This prediction of the Hungarian experts stood the test of time. however. A further guarantee of a less drastic. the leading social role of the party could be guaranteed primarily through the electoral law. For the Polish leaders one guarantee of this long transition would be the two-chamber parliament which could stabilize the balance of forces. this could corrode the agreement concerning the elections to the Sejm on both political and moral grounds. the modernized constitution should also establish the hegemony of the MSZMP. In the notes prepared from these technical exchanges. These views were partly supported and partly amended in the spring of 1989 by the outcome of the Polish roundtable talks and. which was at that time still considered viable. but this proposal was rejected by the more realistic members. A dressrehearsal for a free electoral contest would take place in the senate. very early in the proceedings. however. It was only Kiroly Gr6sz who mentioned the use of non-political instruments.. With all this in mind. in order to implement this schedule. further. that the second phase of transition would last until the 1995 general elections. later. referring to the possibility that he would consider other means also: “[. in March. Members of the body agreed. By that time the Hungarian party leadership had already had a number of full-time specialists dealing with the issues of the political transition. expressed their doubts concerning the viability of following the Polish scenario in Hungary. transition would be the introduction of a strong presidential institution. despite . in February. Andrhs Tbth. that as a kind of a legal guarantee. In the course of exchanging ideas it transpired that the Polish party leaders also predicted the “deep reform” of the political system to be a long-lasting process. in the course of at least five years of transition. the MSZMP’s views on necessary political reform were that. the Hungarian specialists nevertheless believed that. who said that this would only exhibit the party’s lack of confidence and would not in fact be able to guarantee anything.] there is a power which is capable and willing to take up arms in order to prevent any political transition. and.46 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy stage would be in the summer of 1990. and that. 1989. Although the leaders of the PZPR hoped that their opposition was not ready to fight the elections. and not too rapid. the institution of the presidency. Some believed. One does not need to resort to arms. in order to change a governmental structure. Gyorgy Fejti and Andrhs Tbth considered a preliminary agreement and a division of seats to be rather risky. and theywith undoubtedly keen insight-had. in which social consensus and political stability were both regarded as equally important. Gyorgy Fejti together with the CC’s “expert”. by Imre Pozsgay. legal and political guarantees should be developed. and a two-chamber parliamentary system.

instead of an open division of seats and the separation of Parliament into two chambers. 1989 meeting. was thinking in terms of different solutions to the problem of guaranteeing its long-term political role. therefore. Earlier.Melinda Kalmar: From ‘Model Change ’ to Regime Change 47 the fact that the results of the June elections took not only the Polish communist party by surprise. however-although leaving the issue entirely open-only proposed the establishment of the institution of president with “medium” power^. In September. As far as institutional and legal guarantees were concerned. On the contrary. this was still considered to be the most promising route towards establishing a new model based on consensus. gradually advanced toward the concept of “parliamentary socialism” the exemplar for which was to be the coalition period between 1945 and 1948. 1988 to the spring of 1989. but also the opposition itself. This scenario would have been similar to a rewound film and for this reason. one based on competitive elections and the other on compromise. In the MSZMP’s plans the elections were also to have been preceded by negotiation and compromise. and even in February. Rejection of a two-chamber system. but the concept held by the leadership and by the party’s legal experts working on modifications to the constitution underwent a fundamental change in the period from September. The leaders of the party hoped that this-according to their plans-essentially communist-led coalition would remind the re-emerging historic parties of a precedent in Hungarian history: a special division of power in the coalition period between 1945 and 1948. instead of introducing a “presidential socialism”.* They did not exclude the possibility. that perhaps two different electoral laws could be elaborated: one for the first transitional phase-for the period of compromise-and another for the later phase when truly competitive elections could take place. however. 1988 it was still possible to conceive the establishment of a presidential system “possibly to the extent” that the posts of State President and Prime Minister would be concentrated in the hands of one person. a plan for a two-chamber parliament was also considered. quasi-coalition form based on compromise. the MSZMP offered part of the opposition an informal. in the first half of 1989 the MSZMP entertained very high hopes that its proposal would find support in the opposition. increasingly diverging from the Polish solution. The draft of the constitution completed by the end of January.) The MSZMP. The only thing which was not yet clear was the “technology” through which a durable compromise could be achieved. . as it was now regarded as foreign to Hungarian tradition as well as both unjustifiable and inadequate in relation to the size of the country. but this was quickly rejected by a majority of Politburo members at the May 26th. albeit in a way different from that of the PZPR. in anticipation of semi-free elections.^ In this way the Hungarian party leadership. However. Legal and Administrative Committee. did not mean that the Hungarian party had given up on the compromise scenario. a presidential system in general was discussed at the meeting of the MSZMP CC International. 1989. the introduction of the presidential institution was given primary importance by the Hungarian party leaders also. however.

Acceptance of the socialist way of social development.and Multi-lateral Negotiations As early as the beginning of 1989 it became urgent that the Hungarian party leadership. and that there would be some other parties with whom they could cooperate after the elections on some issues. if the right negotiating strategy were followed. stated that the party was ready to conduct biand multi-lateral negotiations. following the example of the Polish talks begun on February 6th. should also initiate similar “consultations” with the opposition organizations. Section 2 of Paragraph 6 of the draft made public in April and May of 1989 stated that the budget subsidies for the parties forming electoral alliances should be determined “on the basis of their . although not in the form which the New March Front (UMF) had proposed”-and which the party leadership had rejected several times-but in a form which gave a clear and dominant role to the MSZMP. they could achieve agreement on some kind of a popular-democratic quasi-coalition before the general elections. whilst striving for the simultaneous dissolution of the two military blocs. the MSZMP would come out of the inevitable political transition with no heavy loss of prestige and power. or for what [program] we would request a coalition. as forrnulated in the position plan prepared for the 1989 February 10th/l lth meeting of the MSZMP Central Committee. resolution: 1. 2. In the spring of 1989 the MSZMP hoped that there would be parties with whom. 3. concerning how the “responsibility of governing” could be shared in the first phase of the planned transition. At the February 7th. which were at that time labeled as “alternative. almost as a symbol of national unity and solidarity.” These conditions were summarized by the party leadership in the Central Committee’s previously mentioned February. Certain paragraphs of the party law then under preparation were also formulated in the spirit of such considerations.”’ Within the framework of multi-lateral talks there was some discussion regarding the establishment of a national consensus board. The MSZMP considered these multilateral negotiations to be a forum for consultation which would provide what might be termed a “legitimizing umbrella” for the transition as it proceeded. These bilateral negotiations were mostly aimed at finding potential coalition partners who were ready to accept the leading role of the MSZMP and the conditions which were labeled as the MSZMP’s platform. would serve a double strategy for the MSZMP. At the same time there was consensus in the leadership that several inter-party negotiations should also be conducted. This strategy. 1989. both solutions would guarantee that. Respect for the international alliance obligations of the country. it was also outlined.” In the hopes of the party leaders. meeting of the Politburo this was worded by Mikl6s NCmeth in the following way: “We would start talking about what the platform is. in the long run.” These negotiations. Acceptance of the prevailing constitution and laws. primarily with the re-emerging historic parties.48 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f Bi. and one topic on the proposed agenda was precisely “the discussion of the issues concerning co-operation. 1989.

Moreover. and themes of the planned meetings. when it transpired that the opposition organizations were not only able to show their strength in mass demonstrations. whose function would be consultative and whose participants would be chosen by the MSZMP.” The potential success of the planned bilateral negotiations was thus jeopardized. 1989. At the beginning of March semi-official. if other parties were to be allowed to exist. then it was quite viable to believe that both the newly formed “proto-parties” and the historic parties would be willing to discuss the issues related to the drafts of the party bill and the electoral bill. One was the unexpected collaboration and negotiating tactics of the opposition. since. they still considered the next step to be that of convening a representative meeting. and they had further conditions to be met as to the competence. bilateral negotiations were opened in this spirit and they continued throughout the period of the trilateral talks. in addition to the constant pressure of economic processes. in the months to come an increas- . but the MSZMP was now forced to think in terms of co-operation after the elections instead of reaching a coalition agreement beforehand and they attempted. which was to pave the way for future wider negotiations.+onlywilling to negotiate collectively. Consequently. the hopes attached to the bilateral talks were ultimately dashed.Melinda Kalmar: From ‘Model Change * to Regime Change 49 concordant ~tatement. without the Federation of Young Democrats (Fidesz). Nonetheless. whilst the other was dissension in the party leadership and the open attitude and actions of its own internal opposition. two different facets of home policy influenced the expectations of the MSZMP concerning a slow “evolutionary” transition. as they did on March 15th. form. since the participating organizations of the EKA were no longer in a position to conduct open negotiations with the MSZMP. therefore.”’~ this draft the MSZMP wished to demonstrate that In among its reform plans it took seriously such legally guaranteed monetary incentives for potential coalition partners-in return for an appropriate trade-off. the dissolution of the party. The first serious shock-wave struck the leadership of the MSZMP at the end of March or at the beginning of April. One very clear sign of this was that. at the beginning of April the Opposition Roundtable (EKA)14 refused to attend a meeting organized by the MSZMP. or. Short-lived Negotiations In the weeks following the announcement of a multi-party system in February. Informal bilateral talks were going on in the background nonetheless. the MSZMP drew the important preliminary conclusions: that. as it was often put more succinctly. to prepare the political conditions for this eventuality. in its press statement the EKA made it clear that those organizations which had been members of the EKA since March 22nd were.13 However. but that they were also determined to join forcespartly giving up their independence for a time-in order to appear as a united negotiating partner against the MSZMP.

for the opposition roundtable is not a stable entity.]. And it will build some confidence too. take steps and give signals which will unwind this bloc. The bilateral exploratory talks concerning a coalition were adversely affected not only by the opposition alliance. . the reform circles in the party had their first conference in the middle of April in Kecskemet. that the EKA. firm. the historic parties-M. whilst the opposition was only willing to negotiate within the frameworks which they themselves had set. fully controlled those EKA member organizations wanting to break out of this situation which had been a burden upon them from the beginning. What can we offer them? Here we have to reckon with the parties again [that is. would prove to be a transitional. the more we can profit from it. for even now it can be seen that such a roundtable negotiation works against the sovereignty of the organizations as well as against them taking an independent position. meeting of the Politburo. At the April 19th Politburo meeting Rezso Nyers referred to this new item on the agenda as a potential tool for building confidence: Now. if we had time to wait patiently.16 This swept the MSZMP inevitably towards an extraordinary party congress. and especially the radical wing of the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ). Gyorgy Fejti made the following comment about the EKA: I believe that we can organize this series of negotiations if we stay calm. but also by the fact that. we have to give them something for their infrastructure anyway. Information reaching the MSZMP leadership-the source of which was not identified in the minutes of the meetings-implied that Fidesz. It was a serious political trauma for the MSZMP leaders that. we should offer them something. consisting as it did of different parties and proto-parties. and also flexible. we must. or hoped.50 Tlie Roundtable Talk of 1989: The Genesis of Hitngarian Democracy ingly frequent topic of the meetings was the question of infrastructure for the newly formed political parties. well. rather. So. and eventually to the break-up of the party. At the beginning of 1989 the majority of the party leadership believed. Henceforth the attention of the party leadership was so much engaged by its internal problems-and by the fear that the previously planned long transition could only be accomplished by keeping the party together by any means available-that items dealing with internal party matters dominated the agenda in meetings of various senior bodies and issues concerning the opposition were generally discussed at the end of these meetings. We should be very careful not to take any steps which will bring them closer together. in the spring the party began to break up into smaller or larger platforms. as items under “Any Other Business” reached in the late evening. short-lived alliance which might fall apart as the result of unbridgeable internal conflicts and without outside intervention. I consider it to be a good tool that we have up our sleeves.K. their differences of opinion would gain the upper hand. where the differences of opinion within the party were openly discussed. and the earlier we give it to them. 1989. When describing the situation at the April 19th.

when it transpired that both the MSZMP and the EKA were insisting on their own negotiating strategy. was not only the cohesive power of the opposition but also the potential independent political role of the EKA organizations in the first phase of the planned long transition. if it could not.17 A Stalemate Situation The first time on which the reality of the “flash-talks” concept was questioned was in April and May. and was still insisting that. Therefore. The MSZMP leaders viewed these organizations as being still rather weak. Most of all they insisted that the institutions of the Presidency and of the Constitutional Court be accepted within the framework of the constitutional modifications. none of which issues were the organizations in the EKA willing to negotiate. since in Hungary it was the political parties who were sitting at the negotiating table. Imre Pozsgay stressed that it was important to draw the attention of opposition members unwilling to negotiate to this point. the issues related to equal opportunity in the media. The government would then submit slightly modified bills and everything would neatly follow its set course. however.Melindu Kalmhr: From ‘Model Change’ to Regime Change 51 What the leaders of the MSZMP underestimated. the leaders of the MSZMP still hoped that the transition would be comfortably long and negotiations with the opposition short (concluded by the end of May). economic and social issues should also be included in the agenda of the discussions. and they thought that agreements achieved with these parties would not bind them to anything. in addition to the Party Bill and the Electoral Bill. in the worst case-as the most pessimistic Soviet scenarios had predicted-might also sweep the party as a whole from the scene. At the April 19th 1989. lacking a realistic program for government both currently and in the short-term. they wanted to discuss the amendments necessary for the Law of Public Meetings and Assemblies. Instead of the Party Bill. Consequently the main concern for MSZMP in 1989 was time-that is. This hope of the MSZMP was supported by their belief that their position in respect of possible compromise looked much more favorable and promising than that in Poland. the question of whether it could keep the economic crisis and the controlled political transition within the desired course. meeting of the Politburo. In the meantime the MSZMP had still not given up the idea of arranging for a representative form of negotiations. by using its own political experience it could stay on its feet in the race against the opposition. The EKA continued to press for bilateral negotiations and only wanted to discuss issues and conditions relating to a constitutional transition. then a too-rapid transition and radical changes in political and social conditions might destabilize the country and. In the spring of 1989. if the party had sufficient time. and having even less experience in running a government. however. . itself leading to democratic elections. and guarantees against forcible restoration.

the question of the “shape of the table” did not belong here. In order to break out of this deadlock. The MSZMP was understandably embarrassed by this war in the media and would have preferred to continue the political reconciliation of interests in the less sensational arena of the negotiating table. dual publicity is a thing of the past. Such issues involve the army. The MSZMP was all the more interested in such a scenario because it was trying to avoid any responsibility for either interrupting the negotiations which had recently started. Taking everything into consideration. by the way-that they themselves have achieved everything that Solidarity was able to achieve over the course of a long series of negotiations. they have access to the mass media. in which it openly questioned the legislative legitimacy of Parliament. the MSZMP is divided. which. which it considered to be one of the preconditions for a successful transition. through all the issues which were blocking the start of negotiations. That is. by late-April or early-May a stalemate had developed. it would by now agree to bilateral nego- . To this effect they decided that they would be flexible on most of the issues. was one of the EKA’s ambitions also. Such accusations would jeopardize the MSZMP’s role as initiator. and they came to the conclusion that the preparatory phase should be concluded and genuine talks started as soon as possible. one by one. perhaps. The party was also afraid that the EKA would view its own position as much better than that which the Polish opposition had been able to achieve and would. the Ministry of the Interior. deliberately play for time. which at that time over there were simply swept off the negotiating table. Even worse for the MSZMP was the fact that the EKA was using the press to publicize its position. and they saythis is a fact. they are already legal.52 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy Therefore. However. So some organizations believe that time is working for them. they went. Although the MSZMP was already willing to make concessions with regard to the representative forum which they preferred. At the April 19th and May 2nd Politburo meetings the leadership of the party-now apparently accepting that it had to face a well-organized and difficult negotiating partner-deliberated whether it would be possible to find some flexible negotiating tactics which would enable them to continue open talks with the opposition which would not simply be informal meetings but would ultimately represent a national consensus. and what’s more. continuing them at the highest level of leadership. or for being the cause of their eventual failure. and shift the responsibility upon us for the slow-down or failure of the negotiations. with each side sticking rigidly to its own position. At the April 19th Politburo meeting Gyorgy Fejti’s comments on the prospects for the negotiations reflected this assumption. they have managed to influence public opinion significantly on issues which are still taboo in Poland. and the nomenclature. Miityiis Szuros suggested that they should no longer be engaged in trying to loosen the ties of the EKA but should raise the level of the negotiations. saying that some within the EKA believed that the talks were more urgent for MSZMP than for them: Here we can see comparisons being made with the Polish roundtable talks. therefore it seems useful to discredit the negotiating delegation. or-as some part of the party leadership suggested-would be destructive. incidentally. it will be forced to make further concessions.

the MSZMP also had to determine for itself what it wanted to achieve and what it expected from the new situation. that in the .” At the beginning of May the MSZMP and the EKA organizations. conducted bilateral talks almost daily to resolve the situation. after weighing this information. as a minimum program. they expected their negotiating partners-especially the Social Democrats. but then later. certain representatives of the historic parties themselves initiated these meetings. and that the unbending resistance of the Free Democrats was jeopardizing not only the success of the preparatory phase but the negotiations as a whole and-in consequence-much-desired. since the opposition obviously wanted as much publicity as possible. 1989. within this. in the middle of May. through their representatives.. the Smallholders’ Party (FKGP) and the Hungarian Democratic Forum-to distance themselves from the SZDSZ’s position and to come to the negotiating table as “sovereign partners.” For the MSZMP. but also the People’s Party (MNP). at the beginning of May. and their respective representatives. During the enforced break caused by the deadlock the MSZMP tried to discover what the negotiating partners expected from the transition and what their negotiating ambitions were. and later the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) also. however. future social consensus. The other important point in the negotiations for the OR would be the issue of the media.*’ Competitive Elections In describing the power relationships established by May. at the same time. to make joint efforts to drag the preparatory talks out of this deadlock. the SZDSZ. they first requested the negotiating partners to help the EKA find its way back towards the direction of compromise and consensus. As to the question of what the MSZMP wanted to achieve. and. in the issue of political infrastructure. Therefore. proposing trilateral and quadrilateral negotiations to be conducted between the MSZMP and the historic parties. The MSZMP was still convinced that the EKA was controlled by the most radical party. and so they would mainly be interested in the Party Bill.Melinda Kalmhr: From ‘Model Change’ to Regime Change 53 tiations in which the MSZMP would be on one side and all the organizations of the EKA on the other.. and. at the May 2nd Politburo meeting Gyorgy Fejti laid down. while the opposition was not yet in a position to have such confidence. so that they could run their organizations under reasonable conditions. Imre Pozsgay said that the MSZMP could still consider itself to be firmly in the saddle. when the MSZMP resumed intensive bilateral negotiations. According to the documents of the MSZMP’s leading bodies. The answer to the first question seemed to be much simpler: the MSZMP knew that the parties and organizations of the opposition wanted to win as many seats as possible at the elections. the main goal of the background bilateral talks was to inspire the historic parties.

There is still an extremely slim chance. what can we want? We can no longer push for a preliminary coalition.23 . the most important objective was to restore the shaken legitimacy of Parliament by broadening the social base of legislation. . during discussion of the Party Bill. Although the MSZMP had previously declared its endorsement of the concept of free elections. Finally. which would otherwise be very easy to prepare technically. or should. So competitive elections.] the situation is different. On the other hand. for the reason that such an election. and to consider the possibility of early elections. MSZMP expected that. maybe it would have worked. If we had started earlier. for the validity of such an agreement could be questioned at any time.54 The Rotrndtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f course of negotiations. In my view. however. to be more precise. Gyorgy Fejti. as far as elections were concerned. He openly objected to this idea: Some raised the issue of whether we should aim for elections based on preliminary agreement or on the free competition of the parties. would not solve the basic problems. We have to accept this thesis. whilst by May this meant genuinely free elections based on the free competition of the parties involved. Some members mentioned the possibility that the MSZMP might still follow the Polish example and try to make a preliminary coalition agreement with the opposition. it is still a reasonable evaluation of the situation to say that neither the political conditions nor the internal situation is ripe for an election based on the classical competition of the parties involved. that we could. or. the issue of the Electoral Bill then under preparation was raised. based on preliminary coalition agreements?would take place. it accepted the idea of competitive elect ions.. with all of us in the balance. develop an election system based fundamentally on preliminary agreements between the parties. a government based on a broad consensus could be formed with those who would be willing to enter into coalition. now it does not. At this time the party leadership-in the interest of exploiting its still-extant but slim advantage-was willing to accderate the pace of transition? contrary to its intentions at the beginning of the year. This was first stated by Rezso Nyers at the May 2nd Politburo meeting: Now what can we expect. who was the political official in charge of the bills in the highest party leadership-and who thus took part himself in the preparation of these bills-did not forget his earlier worries concerning the Polish solution. unfortunately [. At the May 8th MSZMP Central Committee meeting. following the general election. the opposition was expected to commit itself not to exacerbate social tensions in return for a MSZMP guarantee that there would be no attempt to restore the political situation by force. the interpretation of this idea had changed in a matter of merely two months?2 In March this had still meant that quasi-free elections. however.21 In this context-considering the pros and cons in relation to the approaching elections and to co-operation with potential partners-the MSZMP came to an important conclusion which determined the fate of the transition fundamentally: notwithstanding the Polish example.

The party leadership believed the party’s electoral target should be 40-45% of the vote. Everybody wants to be weighed in the balance. and so it was hard to know whether they were supported by the party’s leadership. with the MSZMP. if the EKA learned of such background talks. some members of the Central Committee now began to talk about the escalation of demands. its views on potential coalition partners underwent significant modification. in any case. feared that these selective negotiations might prove to be a trap for MSZMP. for that is what they see to be in their best interest. it was quite clear to the MSZMP that.Melindu Kolmcir: From ‘Model Change ’ to Regime Change 55 Upon seeing the pressure of current circumstances and. nor.. as a result of internal conflict. as a result. Meanwhile.] The way it is with these parties now-and we should understand their position-is that we will see only after the elections. the MSZMP . who controlled the Opposition Roundtable. Gyorgy Fejti voiced the objection that. in spite of the fact that. A few members of the party expressed concern regarding the priority given to the historic parties in this respect.. which would be sufficient for a coalition agreement. He believed that. At the May 2nd Politburo meeting Gyorgy Fejti informed members that the lesson learned from the bilateral negotiations was that a coalition agreement with the historic parties was only viable after the elections: For some time the historic parties have played with the idea that it might perhaps be worth forming an alliance with MSZMP for the elections. which were struggling with constant internal conflicts. after a real assessment of power relationships and the possible consequences of a competitive election. it would mean losing the possibility ofthe broad national negotiations only just under p r e p a r a t i ~ n . He called the attention of the meeting to the contradiction that it was the Alliance of Free Democrats who had the most resolute ideas concerning the negotiations and that it was they. [. So everything depends on how many votes the MSZMP will be able to collect. the changes in the MSZMP’s conception of the transition. So now there is no one who wants to form a nation-wide electoral alliance. least of all. The Parliamentary Palette The exploratory talks concerning coalition remained on the agenda. Today this idea is dead. ~ ~ Imre Pozsgay-summarizing the conceptual turn concerning potential coalitions-described what the MSZMP considered to be the desirable composition of Parliament. however. by May. instead of striving for coalition with the historic parties. however. In this way the chances of implementing a transition initiated and controlled by the party were still further diminished. MikI6s Nemeth. all of the parties making up the EKA were eager to be “weighed in the balance” of a competitive election and that for this reason they were not interested in coalition-neither among themselves. for. these parties were often represented by people who were rivals within their party. therefore. what it can raise.

for. Time was not on the MSZMP’s side. was concerned. The announcements made by the EKA demonstrated that the legitimacy of Parliament could hardly be maintained until the next election. however. ‘Here I am to take it’. would be headed by Imre Pozsgay and Rezso Nyers. There are arguments for and against. however. who was playing a leading role in the preliminary harmonization talks. the MSZMP suggested to the government that they should issue a statement-obviously in addition to the necessary steps to be taken by the Ministry of the Interior-to call upon the whole of society for the spirit of national reconciliation.2s Agreement on Starting Negotiations By the end of May. at the May 26th Politburo meeting. that this might not be enough to ease tensions in the country. in respect of the MDF. Gyorgy Fejti came forward with a proposal entirely different from their earlier position as far as the most important issue. The leadership of the party could see. the presence of the secretary-general would not prove to be a trap for the MSZMP. 1989. The delegations. as far as the SZDSZ was concerned-in Pozsgay’s view-they would be a constructive opposition. “Another thing we have to consider is whether comrade Gr6sz should also be involved in this. They were able to break out of the deadlock when. that concerning the form of negotiations. the MSZMP decided that an early election was now a necessity. but the participation of Kiiroly Gr6sz might perhaps be reserved for the plenary sessions. In anticipation of these events.” and as a fourth side. The Committee for Historical Justice (TIB) and the family of Imre Nagy changed their earlier position: they were no longer content to have a ceremony in the cemetery. if a failure should occur. by observers. and that. and. His second proposal was that. an isosceles-I can already see the table”-said Fejti. proposed “trilateral-plus-one” negotiations. The concerns of the MSZMP were further enhanced by the fact that the June 16th date for the re-interment of Imre Nagy and his fellow martyrs was now quite near. was not feasible without prior agreement with the opposition parties. but also requested that they be laid to rest in state in Heroes’ Square. with the MSZMP and EKA complemented by “independent participants.” The other members of the body also agreed with this basic principle and so . in case of failure. some kind of-not yet precisely defined-tolerance was needed. and so it wanted above all to start negotiations with the opposition in the first half of June. This. “A triangle. continued the secretary of the CC. in which experts from the MSZMP and from the Government would participate. in any event. the MSZMP considered the stalemate to be very serious.56 The Roiindtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy should seek coalition with the Social Democrats. I don’t think that the secretary-general should assume this responsibility. The secretary of the CC. so that. they should raise the level of the negotiations: they should appoint members of the negotiating delegation. that. as a result.

however. If real negotiations failed to begin in the first two weeks. As it later transpired. all the more so since they hoped that. It was precisely this promise which the MSZMP would later wish to retract during the course of negotiations. which was conducting a rather rigid policy as an opposition alliance. the June agreement had one weak point from the MSZMP’s perspective: whilst it promised that legislation would not precede political agreement. the experts signed the agreement declaring the opening of the real negotiations. you should not be there. it failed to define or determine an end-point for negotiations.27 The Politburo accepted this new approach to the negotiations. Yet the MSZMP still viewed negotiations concerning long-term coalition plans as a strategic goal of primary importance. but until there is one. they agreed that the CC would be given only the most necessary pieces of information: “Let us agree that we should not say anything concrete to the CC. had already taken place at the beginning of June. you will be there. Above all. MSZMP would evaluate another possibility. In this case. followed. of “lower value politically”: the proposal that the government should make public all fundamental laws-several of which had already been made public-and guarantee that the comments made by the various organizations. they wanted to conceal this tactic of playing for time from the CC.A4elinda Kalmar: From ‘Model Change’ to Regime Change 57 they decided that-although the presence of the secretary-general was indispensable for raising the level. eventually. they might perhaps be able to detach them-and perhaps the MDF also-from the OR. Therefore-with a view to the special interests of the bilateral talks-the Politburo decided that the new proposal for negotiations would be sent to the EKA only when these inter-party meetings. was made public. and soon afterwards. which might also be acceptable to the EKA. and the stakes. in order to guard against the loss of prestige. In order to avoid this. on June 9th. conducted with the participation of Grbsz. and then later when agreement had been reached. it would “depreciate” KBroly Gr6sz’s forthcoming talks with the three historic parties: the Social Democrats. . the EKA received the MSZMP’s new proposal favorably. would be submitted to Parliament. even if they press us hard”-said Rezso Nyers. but it was also afraid that if the MSZMP’s new proposal concerning trilateral negotiations. of the negotiations-he himself should only appear at the opening session. on June loth. for they believed that everything was “leaked” from there. the Smallholders’ Party. lengthy process of negotiations in which it had to make unforeseen compromises. and the People’s Party. there is a chance of an agreement. As expected. This “mistake” involved the MSZMP in an unwanted. which was precisely what they did not want. the proposal would become meaningless. however. either separately or as part of the proposal made by the Opposition Roundtable.”26 At the May 26th Politburo meeting Gyorgy Fejti also said that they should call the attention of the opposition to an important provision: the MSZMP’s offer was only valid until the end of the first week of June. by keeping in constant contact with these parties. In the words of Rezso Nyers: “If. concluding the conspiracy. by the members of the negotiating delegations.

One clear warning sign was the outcome of the June elections in Poland. and Ribiinszky programs. The government. the Bill on the Institution of the Presidency. not only was the unity of the MSZMP not restored. were rather slim. however. Kiiroly Gr6sz. as well as Prime Minister Mikl6s Nkmeth himself. (The agenda of the meeting included. Now the MSZMP wished to speed up negotiations. the Electoral Bill. in which the PZPR performed worse than expected. and that the opposition should be informed that the government’s friendly gesture of withdrawing the fundamental laws from Parliament in June did not mean that the negotiations could go on indefinitely. the divisions among the four people in the newly established supreme body. were threatening to call for the House’s dissolution. This is because the MSZMP was convinced that the . established as successor to the Political Committee (Politburo) in June 1989. One month later. the Movement for a Democratic Hungary. wholeheartedly supported the idea of bringing forward the elections. The 2 1-member Political Executive Committee. as a result of Parliament’s dubious legitimacy. certain groups of representatives in the House. and. and in the first round the opposition candidates joined forces and inflicted a defeat on the communist candidates. The elections could not be held in November even if negotiations were completed within a month and the Party could submit to the House the laws it considered fundamental: the Party Bill. mid-term elections were held in Hungary. in July 1989. In the meantime. a Bill on the Constitutional Court. maximally. The chances of this. however. but the party instead became still further fragmented.) This further increased tensions already present in the party leadership. Another factor deepening the crisis in the MSZMP was that. Imre Pozsgay. for they believed that some unpopular measures were indispensable for the stabilization of the economy and for the acquisition of new loans from the West. since some of these directly involved the highest levels of the party. the members of the Political Executive Committee agreed that the elections should be held as soon as possible. but they wanted to introduce these measures only after the elections.58 The Roundtable Tufks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy Acceleration By the middle of the summer of 1989 the chances of the MSZMP in the forthcoming elections had deteriorated dramatically. amongst others. caused an abrupt about-turn in their position concerning their negotiating strategy. not because it underestimated the strength of the opposition-as they had earlier-but rather because they wanted to hold the elections as early as 1989. Berecz.” In assessing this domestic situation. and Mikl6s NCmeth-was now clearly irreversible. in the hope of holding the elections in December. especially the county party leaders. had no other choice but to put on the agenda of its July 24th meeting a discussion of the various policies and tendencies inside the party. Nevertheless. the Presidency-Rezso Nyers. the members of the Political Executive Committee believed that. the negotiating process should be expedited by all means possible.29This. All this encouraged the MSZMP to take a very firm position on the issue of early elections.

the Committee left open the issue of the date of the elections. The negotiating delegations were given the specific task of speeding up the process of the trilateral talks. so that Parliament could debate them as soon as possible. If the Committee opted for early elections. the subject of these talks was placed on the agenda under the heading “Miscellaneous” for discussion late in the evening. the MSZMP delegation informed its negotiating partners in a statement that it was unwilling to discuss the issue of MSZMP property in the framework of the trilateral “reconciliation of interests.Aklinda Kalmcjr: Froin ‘Model Change’ to Regime Change 59 EKA wanted to delay agreement and was demonstrating “obstructive b e h a ~ i o r ” ~ ~ in order to hinder early elections. the Political Executive Committee did not decide when the elections would take place. when it had been able to survive thus far. deadline. since it knew that these were mostly in the interests of the MSZMP. on July 26. According to previous practice.3’ Gyorgy Fejti. To this effect they were to press for the elaboration of the Party and Electoral Bills. any disputed item upon which agreement could not be expected-firstly in the matter of the account of MSZMP property-would have to be dropped from the issues to be discussed. as well as the preparation of the Bill on the Institution of the Presidency. there was no other solution: even if it meant risking the failure of the talks. Two days after the meeting of the Political Executive Committee. The speaker of the House had objections to a later. said at the June 24th meeting of the Political Executive Committee that the most important task facing the leadership was to decide finally what it really wanted to achieve. until the next scheduled elections. depending on how Parliament was able to function. it would clearly mean having to accelerate negotiations. Therefore.” Following this the professional expert harmonization talks in Committee I/2 were broken off. agreeing that a proposal would be made later. The Interpretation of Consensus On August 15th the Political Executive Committee of the MSZMP convened for a meeting before resuming the trilateral political talks on August 24th. In this case. asking why Parliament should demonstrate its incapacity by admitting that it could not last for another three months. Horn . The order of discussion was changed by an unexpected demand from Gyula Horn. since both the year-end and the early new year seemed equally suitable. however. Nevertheless. 1989. since these could not only slow down the process towards an agreement but might also block it. because the negotiating delegation would then shape its tactics accordingly. who primarily acted as executor of political decisions as well as-in the absence of Imre Pozsgay at that time-leader of the MSZMP negotiating delegation. March. to be resumed only at intermediate level on August 24th. and doing whatever they could in order to ensure the political and legal conditions necessary for early elections.

. if necessary-and he believed that it would be necessary-and then. a further meeting could be held on August 25th. the EKA was no longer interested in a rapid acceptance of the law on the Presidency. under the heading “current issues of domestic policy. then. the legitimacy of party organizations in the work place. whilst the committee was discussing unimportant issues. The most important obstacle in the way of implementing this schedule was precisely the same as it had been since the signing of the June 10th agreement: the agreement did not set a deadline for the end of negotiations. regarded the introduction of the Presidency as a crucial issue in the process of transition even with the President having only “medium” powers. however. The MSZMP’s leaders. According to this schedule. so that elections could be held at the beginning of December. and it also failed to state clearly that all three negotiating partners must come to agreement on all fundamental issues before signing the concluding statement. whilst the remaining issues would be postponed. life was “flying by”. This was not too promising for the MSZMP. since it still cherished some hopes concerning early elections. was the rather optimistic schedule of events outlined by the MSZMP in the middle of August with respect to the negotiations. Therefore they were hoping. since after passing the Electoral Law and the Party Law. This was how the issue was included in the agenda as the first item. and on August 26th the negotiations would be concluded. that behind-thescenes discussions with some of the EKA organizations would result not only in the acceptance of the Institution of the Presidency but also in the election of the MSZMP’s nominee. and the institution o€ the presidency. Now it was evident to the MSZMP that the SZDSZ and Fidesz were not willing to come to any compromise on the most hotly debated issues: the issue of party property. Even in Gyorgy Fejti’s most pessimistic estimate. inasmuch as the Electoral Law under preparation provided that elections had to be declared within 60 days. finally. as President. until the very end of the Roundtable Talks.” Nevertheless. by this time the outcome of the negotiations had become very important indeed for the MSZMP. a intermediate level meeting would be held. Imre Pozsgay. after August 21st the negotiating partners would hold preparatory talks at expert level. The most important condition for elections in December. however. The best solution would have been to have Parliament debate those bills which the MSZMP considered to be fundamental at the end of September or at the beginning of October at the latest. in August the Political Executive Committee tried to find a way to shorten the negotiations and to revise the most important element of the agreement made in June. Therefore.60 The Roiindtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f said that. the one guaranteeing that legislation would not precede political agreement. One possible solution proposed for interpreting the consensus needed to conclude the agreement was that those bills upon which agreement had already been achieved should be submitted to Parliament. on August 24th. on September the 1st the Central Committee could review the outcome of the negotiations and the agreement could be signed on September 2nd.

in addition to the two fundamental laws. Rezso Nyers suggested that it would be good to come to an agreement on the Party Bill. in this order.” Quiet Diplomacy In the meantime. but. not only with the parties of the EKA but also with representatives of the Third Side. then the MSZMP would submit the latter “out of its position of strength. or firstly we have to remove the Institution of the Presidency fiom it. then it would try to talk some of the participating organizations into making separate agreements. whilst in spring the MSZMP had wanted to persuade the participating parties in the EKA to try to conciliate the other EKA organizations. none of the participating organizations intend to destroy the Opposition Roundtable: that is clear. quiet diplomacy was being conducted behind the scenes. the MSZMP did not exclude the possibility that in case agreement with the EKA as a united negotiating partner failed. the Bill on the Institution of the Presidency. and the Christian Democratic People’s Party. whilst. these three organizations are all ready to establish the legal preconditions of the elections. both at the same time. which can be declared at any time. they refuse to sign them. and this is blocking the method of negotiation which we accepted as a compromise. Fejti argued as follows: I have to say that we are conducting separate negotiations with these parties.Melinda Kaltnar: From ‘Model Change’ to Regime Change 61 The second proposal was that those bills which had been accepted by all the three sides would be submitted to the House as drafl texts. However. we have left the time of the elections open. this time the main goal of the background talks was to facilitate the conclusion of the trilateral negotiations as soon as possible. although we are taking minutes of these meetings. with the remainder of the issues. Nevertheless. The trouble is that. for the time being. no agreement can be made without it: that is also clear. although. So. the Endre Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Friendship Society. This had to be done in a way which would produce agreement on the Institution of the Presidency. Gyorgy Fejti said that the MSZMP was “quite close” to making an agreement with three organizations: the Hungarian Democratic Forum. and in the optimal case. if this did not succeed. it is sure that the Alliance of Free Democrats and the Federations of Young Democrats will not change their position and so the Opposition Roundtable is now facing a possible rupture. so that they would be willing to sit down at the negotiating table. Now. and we have to make an attempt to modify the Constitution-either the whole package. but these organizations share our view that by any means possible. alternative texts would be distributed among the Members of the House. indicating which version was proposed by the MSZMP. So. Summarizing the lessons of the background talks. . even if others have a different opinion. the Electoral Law and the Party law must be passed in the September session of Parliament. Reporting on these exploratory talks at the August 15th Political Executive Committee meeting. in the worst case. This former would have to be separated from the rest of the constitutional issues in order to hold presidential and genera1 elections as early as December 1989-if possible. As a subalternative to this proposal. the Electoral Bill. So.

it had also changed its view on a fundamental issue concerning the electoral system: the ratio of individual and party list seats. according to the agreement. by seeing how much was at stake in the negotiations. and the position President was indi~pensable. Special Deals Despite the planned schedule and quiet diplomacy. they had refused to account for Party property or to leave the work-place. They believed that they no longer exercised any influence over the course of events. were also conducting separate talks with the MSZMP.62 The Roirndtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy Gyorgy Fejti believed that if. The MSZMP could exhibit great flexibility in discussing the Electoral Bill. and especially Imre Pozsgay. and. partly because. then the People’s Party will surely change sides. after the mid-term elections. whose members. when. because they were currently hesitating. Still. Moreover. the most serious internal conflict which the MSZMP had to face over the course of the negotiations related to the Party Law. but rather for the amendment of the Law of Assembly. The negotiating partners also managed to reach an agreement on the basic principles of the Party Law after the EKA abandoned its original proposal that there was no need for a separate Party Law.~‘ . some accused Imre Pozsgay of making unfavorable deals in return for the position of Pre~ident?~ given that earlier they had agreed not to make concessions concerning the fundamental issues. and many thought that the negotiating delegation. eleven more intermediate level political meetings began on August 24th. the negotiations did not come to an end by August 26th. despite patient. Gyorgy Fejti said that. more generally. at the August 3 1st special meeting of the Political Executive Committee. at the August 28th trilateral meeting. quiet diplomacy. enjoyed too much power. the party failed to come to an agreement-because the SZDSZ and the Fidesz adhered to their intentions to obstruct the submission of the bills-then the MSZMP should try to reach an agreement with only some of the negotiating partners-with the above-mentioned three organizations and with the Third Side. and perhaps the Smallholders’ Party will too. not only those who had received the most votes could run in the second round-as proposed by the EKA-but all who had received 15% of the votes cast. reported the secretary of the CC. One success it could record was that.”33 A Long Endgame. that is. Even the members of the Central Committee and those members of the party who were not aware of any inside information were frightened by this possibility. As for the MNP. they would change sides: ‘‘[If] we can come to an agreement with the Hungarian Democratic Forum. Moreover. Imre Pozsgay promised-without prior agreement-that the party would leave the work-place.

and proved to be a partial failure as far as the most important political issue was concerned-the Presidency-due to the unbending attitude of the SZDSZ and the Fidesz. more accurately-all three sides put great effort. the “pessimistic version” came into being. concerning the accountability of the Party and of the other former social organizations for their property. Nor could the opposition feel fully content with the results.37 In reality. This was done with less success than expected for the MSZMP. which the MSZMP regarded as long and drawn-out. the “scenario” would have meant what it normally means: a series of actions to be carried out. even at . and it withdrew its promise to leave the work-place. At the same time both-or. and partly because of the unexpectedly rapid organization of the opposition and their persistent negotiating attitude. which essentially meant reforming the earlier system and a quasi-division of power. The most important defect of these negotiations on political transition was that no satisfactory solution was found. since the MSZMP did not commit itself to dissolving the worker’s militia. serious resolve. This was partly due to internal divisions. and with more success-at least in the short run-for the opposition. These concessions went far beyond the change of model so strongly desired by the party even at the time of the negotiations. Instead. ended on September 18th. could still be implemented. however. At the June 23rd Central Committee meeting. a series of stories to be presented. the leadership of the MSZMP still entertained some hopes that they could escape the general political. ~ the beginning of September. something which could only forewarn of a series of inevitable events. economic. it was not possible to implement the optimistic scenario predicted by the Soviets. As a result of this. and another one had taken its place. the most important goal. 1989. and by the time that the negotiations had come to an end. At the beginning of the summer of 1989. and moral crisis by a change of model. that what the Polish lesson demonstrated was that there was no way of establishing a viable government or a viable coalition without the participation of the communist party. partly as a result of assessing the real processes in the country. the socialist system had peacefully passed away. Prime Minister Mikl6s NCmeth was still trying to convince himself and the members of the CC that a change o model was needed in order to avoid f a regime change or political transition-a demand which at that time was attributed only to the most radical o p p o ~ i t i o n It~was also he who believed. however. either in the course of negotiations or later. (Translated by Agota Rbvbsz) . and often demonstrated admirable self-restraint and tolerance. Although at all times the MSZMP attempted to maintain its role as leader and initiator-or at least to keep up this appearance-it was forced to make constant concessions.Melinda Kalmar: From ‘Model Change’ to Regime Change 63 Scenarios The negotiations. and considerable expertise into this enterprise. that of the peaceful transition of the system. In this sense.

Document Nos. to be published by Uj Mandatum publisher in Budapest. Rezso Nyers and Pal Ivhyi all argued for a two-chamber parliament. 1989.) 5 Not to be confused with Imre Nagy. Yet the draft of the bill made public on June 5. Prime Minister of the 1956 revolution. In: KilCnyi GCza (ed.1958. see Andrzej Paczkowski: Fkl kvszcizad Lengyelorsaig tortknetkb61. the MSZMP Central Committee published a statement of position entitled “On some current issues concerning the reform of the political system” in the daily paper Nkpzabadsag. Miklbs Voros (eds. Social Change and Political Succession.o. ivi jegyz6konyvei. 2 On the Polish transition. 1999. Musgrove. 8 The Minister of Justice prepared a draft..): A Magyar Szocialista Munkrispbrt Kozponti Bizottsagdnak 1989. p h e 1989 minutes of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party. 1989 and prepared by the Ministry of the Interior with the contribution of the Ministry of Justice. pp. Budapest: Hungarian National Archives. 1996. Poland 1986-1989: The f End o the System [A Compendium of Declassified Documents and Chronology of Events]. Minister of Justice K i l m h Kulcsbr. Karola Vagyi NCmethnC. pp. 1956 Institute. The reform of the political system and the concept of division of power as well as the issue of a presidential system were discussed at the February 1989 meeting of the MSZMP CC’s International. 1956-1 990. the George Washington University. Conception of Regulation.or two-chamber parliament. Gyorgy Varga T. Budapest. Institute of Political Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences. the George Washington University. January 30. ” [A compendium of Declassified Documents Prepared for a] Critical Oral History Conference organised by the National Security Archive. Hungarian National Archives (henceforth: HNA) MOL M-KS-288-62/1. 372-378. Zoltin Ripp.C.): Rendszervaltozus Magyarorszzcigon. e.i alkotmanyanak megaikotcisdra 1988-1990. 408-439. who was executed by the Kadar regime on June 16.] (henceforth: Az MSZMP KB 1989. 1989. February 1989. J h o s Lakos. The Cold War International History Project.] National Security Archive. 3 On the MSZMP’s policy before 1988. (eds. September 20. 4 Minutes of the January 3 1. Economic Reform. pp. Laszlb Sobs. The Constitution of Hungary. 1991. 196-198. May 1-3. In: The End o Cold War in Europe. Excerpts published in: Csaba BCkCs. Kbroly Grbsz. dated April 10. 1993. Washington. 1999. An attempt to write the new Constitution of Hungary] Budapest: Allamtudomanyi Kutatbkozpont. 9 Based on a draft prepared by the Politburo. Document No. The minutes of the Politburo and the above-mentioned draft are to be found in: HNA M-KS-288-5/1062 o. 1988. 11 (manuscript. 7 Conception of the Revision of the Constitution. and 1066 o. . 23 and 24. Georgia. 1989 MSZMP Politburo meeting. f 1989.) [Documents on the Preparation of a Constitution. Institut Studibw Politycznych Polskej Akademii Nauk. 1997. Document No.) Egy alkotmanyeloktszitks dokiimentumai (Kistrlet Magvarorszag zi. “New Thinking and New Evidence. 1989-1 990 [Political Transition in Hungary 1989-1990. Melinda Kalmir. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. This was then discussed by the MSZMP Politburo at its April 19 and May 26 meetings. 6 Minutes of the February 7. see Rudolf TokCs: Hungary’s Negotiated Revolution. 1. 1998. Kosztricz. Memorandum written for Jakovlev by the Bogomolov Institute on the Eastern European changes and their impact on the Soviet Union.64 Notes The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f 1 Memorandum written for Jakovlev by the Department of International Relations of the CPSU. See also the publications of the conference held between October 20-24 in WarsawMiedszyn under the title “Poland 1986-1989: The End of the System” [Polska 1986-1989: Koniec System-v.1989. 19391989 p a l f a Century of Polish History 1939-19891 Budapest: The 1956 Institute. In: Anna S. Cold War History Research Center. D. Ibid. concerning a one. Dokzimenty. the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. no longer contained the proposal Concerning an upper house. February 16. Legal and Administrative Committee. 1. 1989 MSZMP Politburo meeting. Malcolm Byme (editor-in-chief). 17. kvi jegyz6konyvei) Vol. The National Security Archive.] The National Security Archive. 1999. Cvi jegyzokondvvei)Vol. e. Published in: Az MSZMP KB 1989. Documents. e.

pp. 1993. pp. 12 The draft of the party bill was first published in the daily paper Magyar Hirlap on April 19. What an idea . which was responsible for the draft of the party bill.. Gyorgy Fejti commented on the planned coalition ideas as follows: “I would consider it a maximal program if these negotiations took place in the form of a roundtable. Andras Bozbki. This is visible in Rezso Nyers’s comment. 2.’’ See: Melinda Kalmar-BCla RCvCsz (eds.1 Budapest: Magveto. Vols. The Roundtable Talks in 1989. 1990. No. Minutes of the April 19. Section 2 of Paragraph 6 then appeared as: “Parties which do not receive 1 per cent of the votes of all those casting their ballots in the elections are not entitled to any state subsidies. Incidentally. 1999-2000. No. 32. 1996. Excerpts published in: Political Transition in Hungary 1989-90. Vol. 2. Zolth Ripp (eds. Erzstbet Ripp. 2000. pp. Budapest: Magveto. 1996. 1999. On February 2.. Budapest: Uj Mandatum. Lasz16 Bruszt: “Negotiated Revolution in Hungary” Social Research. in which all the political and societal organisations in the country would be represented. given at the April 19. Andras Bozdki: “Hungary’s Road to Systemic Change: The Opposition Roundtable” East European Politics and Societies. Vol. 1989 meeting. 5-8. 1999. or on a platform concerning some questions which might later provide the basis for long-lasting cooperation. This is totally absurd. at the proposal of the EKA. Melinda Kalmhr. The consideration of the UMF’s proposal was obviously problematic for the MSZMP since among the founders of the movement were several party members. Melinda Kalmar.): Roirndtable Talks and the Breakdown o Communism. Vol. Vols 1-8.): A rendszervdltcis forgatbkonyve: Kerekasztaltdrgyalisok 1989-ben. 276-308. and 1l h .1 Vols. 1. BCla RkvCsz. including Central Committee and Politburo member Rezso Nyers.365-87. The modified version appeared in the May 18. BCla RCvCsz. I see some willingness in this respect. kiiret. Chicago: f University of Chicago Press. 11 At the April 19. and then on May 17. Zolthn Ripp (eds. 1988 as an intellectual-political movement based on a “peoples front” tradition. 1989 meeting of the MSZMP Politburo. 7. Document No. But I would not refuse it resentfully. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Documents 8 h . In its January 11. 204-209. 14 On the formation and history of the Opposition Roundtable see h a Richter: Ellenztki Kerekasztal: Portrkvirzlatok. [and] if we could reach an agreement on electoral cooperation with some organizations. 1989. 1-4. I/2. 6. [The Script of the Regime Change: Roundtable Talks in 1989. the People’s Party. 13 When working committee No. 69-98. 1. 6.1. not everyone in the MSZMP leadership took the conditions imposed by the EKA seriously. 1990. 1-8. and the Smallholders’ Party. Budapest: Uj Mandatum. 1989 declaration it proposed the elaboration of a “democracy package” and the forming of a National Committee. the Social Democratic Party. the passage mentioned in the text was omitted from the draft and replaced by another-with more legal than political implications. Vol. Marta Elbert. 1989 meeting of the Politburo. with full representation of those involved. 57. 28. 1989.): A rendszewailtas forgatbkonyve. I would simply ignore it. [Opposition Roundtable: Portraits] Budapest: Otlet. 1989 issue of Mugyar Nemzet. Mtet. Marta Elbert. 1. that is. should the February 10 Central Committee meeting not consider their proposal. Kerekasztal-targyaldsok 1989-ben. k&et [The Script of the Regime Change. Nkpszabadsug published an article saying that the draft had been revised after social debate. 1989. [The Script of the Regime Change: The Roundtable Talks in 1989. mostly in the case of the historic parties.. discussed the relationship between the state budget and the principles of financing the newly formed parties at its July 21.Melinda Kalmcir: From ‘Model Change’ to Regime Change 65 10 The New March Front was established in March. 1989 MSZMP Politburo meeting. pp. the UMF would initiate the establishment of the National Committee without the MSZMP. the representatives of the UMF declared to journalists in the Parliament building that. which can hardly be regarded as well-considered: “We should not accept conditions that they want to impose on us. Rudolf TokCs: Hungary’s Negotiuted Relvolirtion. Document No. including the possibility of a coalition after the elections. Vol. or a chance of it. and not in a bilateral form. 15 For the statements of the EKA see Andras Boz6ki (editor-in-chief). vested with authority and working publicly.): A rendszervdltds forgathk2inyve: Kerekasztaltdrgvalusok 1989-ben. And& Sajd: “Roundtable Talks in Hungary” in Jon Elster (ed. ErzsCbet Ripp.

like children. Instead. well. 1989 Politburo meeting.or 4-sided negotiations.I So it is acceptable that these organizations harmonize their positions and nominate representatives to negotiate with the MSZMP. a very concrete and resolute plan for ourselves as to what we will propose. but then they define themselves as oppositional from the very beginning [. Thus. . a childish thing to do anyway. 19 “Comrade Nyers has noted that the historic parties made some indirect references to the need for such 3. Jbzsef Giczi. Let’s put it this way. I very seriously raise the proposal that we should conduct detailed negotiations with those organizations with whom our bilateral relations are. 1989 MSZMP Politburo meeting.. Minutes of the May 2.e. and that they did not wish to play the role which the SZDSZ made very clear to us at the first meeting: sitting in the dock and listening to them give us a lecture.” Minutes of the April 19. Minutes of the May 16. Document No.. it is quite clear to me that the strong dominance of the Alliance of Free Democrats invariably determines the position of the EKA [. 20 “From the reactions.I So. then it is just hopeless to believe that we can reach any compromise after starting the negotiations. HNA M-KS-288. This is possible. S/ 1062. Excerpts published in: Political Transition in Hzmngary 19891990.. or at least so far have been. and where the line is drawn that shows how far the negotiations can go. but sticking with what we have firmly-I believe we ought to. We cannot rule this out: on the contrary. of negotiations as both a sovereign organization and as a block [.. That is why the form of the table is problematic. The two together won’t work. and the Hungarian Democratic Forum.and make them understand that we can only get out of this deadlock situation together if they somehow circumvent the extremely negative position of the Free Democrats. after having looked into it. So we just take no notice of it. HNA M-KS-288. 1989 MSZMP Politburo meeting. we are ready to do so.” Gyorgy Fejti speaking at the May 16. [. in a concrete way. 1989 meeting of the MSZMP Politburo. it gives us a possibility to talk about how we can resolve this stalemate situation. so that no one may accuse us of engaging in tactics intended to break up the Opposition Roundtable by any means. those people who impose these conditions on us. which we decided should be conducted this week if possible. well balanced-with the Social Democrats. 1989 MSZMP Politburo meeting.] every bargaining position upon which the negotiations depend is on our side..therefore we. Refortnerek 6s reformkorok. 1988-1989..] I would like to conclude by saying that these bilateral talks. a sovereign negotiating partner.’’ Ibid. 51 1062.0. Those who cannot are still not outside the law provided they register as a party. on the side of the govemment-because that’s how they define it..” Gyorgy Fejti speaking at the May 2. but it has the precondition that should the organizations choose to do this. Anyone who can be kept within this boundary may turn out to be a potential coalition partner. 1999. having dealt with the matter thoroughly. 1988-1989 [Creators of the Political Transition on the Left.. we could carry out a very successhl series of negotiations by the end of May. and we have to treat them. Reformers and Reform Circles. have to prepare a very concrete plan now.. that it’s on the government’s side. Budapest: Kossuth. after making thorough preparations-and not even hiding what we have up our sleeves. but today it is clear that if it continues to work composed of the same members and with the same attitude as before. and what we will do when. the Smallholders’ Party.66 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy to impose conditions! This is childish.. Jbzsef Sipos (eds.I But then weighing all this. I would like the Politburo to see this matter clearly.e. 36. and it would be useful if these organizations recognized their interest in participating as. the People’s Party. then those organizations to which we have offered a sovereign negotiating position must give up this possibility. although this form does not actually compensate for [anything]. at most. before we agree to start a new cycle of talks. Gyorgy Fejti summarized the position of the MSZMP on . with the intention of reconciliation.] Two things cannot be done at the same time: to participate at a series this issue as follows: “I. we put forward our own proposals. It was no accident that our Polish friends-under more pressure that we are now-did not make any concessions on this. 17 “[. Selected Documents]. 1989 Politburo meeting. 0. 18 At the April 19.): Rendszewdfdk a baloldalon. . 16 The documents of the reform circles are published in: Attila Agh.” Minutes of the MSZMP April 19.

they (the communists) are working again with the good old salami tactics. If we manage to reach a good agreement with the Social Democrats. 23 Minutes of the May 8. especially given that the government intends to submit these bills to the 1989 September session of Parliament.Melinda KalmLir: From ‘Model Change’ to Regime Change 67 1989 MSZMP Politburo meeting. 21 Among the organizations of the EKA. while the draft of the bill modifying the Constitution appeared in Magyar Hirlap and Muour Nemzet on May 10. 26 Comments made by Rezso Nyers and Gy6rgy Fejti at the May 26. Vol. 1989. 1989 Political Executive Committee meeting.) In contrast. see footnote 9. Excerpts published in: Political Transition in Himngary 1989-1990. then this would become unworthy of us. Excerpts are published in: Political Transition in Hungary 1989-1990. And this would make the so-called free elections look serious. even at the next elections. 28 The information material elaborating the main directions and tools of economic policy in 19901992 was discussed at the same meeting of the Political Executive Committee. Having learned the lessons of the mid-term elections. p. Whether we should seek contact. HNA M-KS-288-5/1072 o. But if we have to deal with parties like the People’s Party. 30 According to the minutes taken at the first meeting of the goodwill committee on July 21. NPpszubadsLig. and we should be talking about things. because it believes that the work in the working committees I/l.with fragmentary parties drowning in comedy. I don’t know whether I am right or not. had clearly argued for holding the elections in the fall of 1989. For the party bill. as well.” (For the minutes of the committee. 6 . but I can see some strategy in keeping the Opposition Roundtable together. 1989. 3G. 27 The Bill on the Constitutional Court was published in Mugyur Hirlap on May 6. Since they initiated it and it’s not certain that it’s a secret. or the Smallholders’ Party. 49. Document No. Document No. with their spitehl dealings inside their own party and with organisations concerned with monuments and the like. Ibid. while we sit down with them we should also be sitting down with the others. LLfree elections [and] the possibility of a coalition in government” are all mentioned as part of modernizing the system of political institutions. although earlier these parties. and to accept the SZDSZ as a constructive opposition-even as a constructive opposition with bourgeois democratic views-then I believe the parliamentary political palette is largely drawn. A trap in the sense that the Opposition Roundtable might kick them out in the sense of that. Report by Kkoly Gr6sz at the July 24. 1989. 1989 Politburo meeting. 837. 22 In March 1989. these local party organizations woke up and started preparations for the general elections. 1989 Politburo meeting. see A rendszervaltasforgatdkonyve Vol. as a coalition partner. 1993. 1989.on July 24. 1989 MSZMP CC meeting. the MSZMP issued a communique entitled “What does the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party intend to achieve?” In this document.” Imre Pozsgay’s comment at the May 2. March 1. to win the tolerance of the MDF. 46. e. 1/2 and 1/3-work which is of primary importance according to the resolution of the committee responsible for the political transition-is not proceeding at the desired pace. who were counting on their historic advantage. a constitutional multiparty system. Document No.” Comments by Miklds Nemeth at the May 2. 1. but don’t let it turn into a trapthat’s what I want to call your attention to. the Op- . 29 Local party organizations also agreed with the idea of early elections. In: Minutes o the Central Committee of the f Hungarian Socialist Worker’sParty 1989. Excerpts published in: Political Transition in Hungary 19891990. even in a bilateral manner. 24 “In the sense that we should sit down with the historic parties. I believe these things should be reconsidered at the negotiations. and this was later accepted by the historic parties also. the MSZMP representative stated: “[The] MSZMP has requested the convening of the goodwill committee. and they join them accidentally (sic). the SZDSZ and the Fidesz were not interested in having early elections. or with strong organizations which could help stabilize the country. 1989. So I would also take some counter-steps. Document No. 110. I agree. 1989 Politburo meeting. 25 “We also have to decide what is in our interest. well.

I say it may not count otherwise. and therefore during the transitional period. because at that point we could still leave the negotiating table by saying it was not our fault that no agreement has been reached. . when negotiations are finished. Magyar Nemzet. July 18. these small party resort . they will tour all the cities and villages of the country.] Undoubtedly.] maybe they are decent people. but for now. a good chance. the organizations in the EKA were by no means united on this issue. you know. let’s give them up too. Document No. 105. so then hunting. 32 Gyorgy Fejti outlined the course of action as follows: “If possible. and the Christian Democratic Party than the chance that they are planning confrontation. And what is behind this is not whether they like us or not. if the MSZMP breaks up. Rezso Nyers made his position very clear at the earlier meeting of the Political Executive Committee on August 15.. the problem is with the leadership of the Militia. which are currently numerous. in the first place. Document No. 3 1 As for early elections. And that they have a summer resort doesn’t please the people. I consider our acceptance of such a position to be entirely impossible before the elections. the chance for a good. the Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Society. Well.. in which he accused the opposition of obstruction.68 The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f position Roundtable objected to a statement made by Mikl6s NCmeth at the meeting of the executive presidency of the National Council of the Patriotic People’s Front. 1989 MSZMP Political Executive Committee meeting. they are no big deal. 1989. In: Political Transition in Hungary 1989-1990. The later we come forward with our demand for early elections. [. is what can spoil anybody. but I say. the party should maintain the Worker’s Militia at all costs. They will only retreat if there is a final deadline. by this we risk the success of the negotiations. yes. Now. We have to do everything we can to help him become the president. well.” Excerpt from the minutes of the August 15. 34 Rezso Nyers warned h e Pozsgay with the following words: “The individual has to. Just to mention one example: when discussing the party bill. we should reduce the number of potential conflict points. in a Western country people couldn’t care less. 35 In addition to this. not in this period. These resort places. “As for the Worker’s Militia. everyone notices this. lay his life down for his community to some extent. but here. there is this resort center of the Worker’s Militia at Lake Balaton. since the historic parties and the MDF would have liked to see elections take place as early as 1989. I know their kind very well. We will reform the Worker’s Militia afterwards. This was a constant theme on the agenda of the bilateral talks with the MSZMP. comment by Gyorgy Fejti. this is also like a red rag to a bull in the eyes of the public. But my view is that comrade Pozsgay can only become state president with the help of the unified support of the MSZMP-it still won’t be sure. HNA M-KS-288-5/1072 6. the greater such a danger will be.. 1989 Political Executive Committee meeting. and then there are these tiny little resort places. [. 93.” Comment by Rezso Nyers at the August 31. 1989. See:“Elaboration of the Hungarian model is the guarantee of progress”. but that their political interests lie closer to ours than to those of the Alliance of Free Democrats. but power.I Yes. And this leadership. easy life. That’s what we have in our country.. they will be enthusiastic. e. At this time I’m not able to say when they are going to back down on this point. then we can have ardent spirits. these hunting lodges do exist. and demanded that it be put down in the minutes. intellectual reformers-I’m one of them too. and there is a chance that they might be interrupted.” Excerpts from the comment by Gyorgy Fejti at the July 24. 1989 MSZMP Political Executive Committee meeting. 33 “I believe I am not far from the truth if I say that today there is a better chance for separate compromises with the HDF. well these are so small. then let’s do it. that they would not endorse the submission of the bill without having the MSZMP give a full account of its property and without adding to the agenda the issue of redistributing party property. I’m saying this to comrade Pozsgay. this will not make comrade Pozsgay president. nothing should be given up. but this way he has a chance. I know who they are-well. when he said that the armed forces of the country must be left intact.. In: Political Transition in Hungary 1989-1990. And they also like hunting. But I beg of you. There are some plans over there to turn into a limited liability company. I say hands off the Worker’s Militia! No. But if it is only a question of this. If that will improve our moral position. the opposition insisted at every meeting. [.

Vol. maybe this will solve the problem. or PZPR participation. Vol. Mikl6s NCmeth said at the September 1. 37 With respect to the lessons of the Polish experience. 1119. 1447. 36 “We want to change the model because having announced democratic socialism. e‘vijegyzokonyvei. because-as shown by the Polish struggle-no government can be established without communist participation.” In: Az MSZMP KB 1989. p. Document No. and why we have to change the model.” Comment by Rezso Nyers at the August 15. Ibid. .Melindu Kulmcir: From ‘Model Change’ to Regime Change 69 places in the country. 2. it cannot be a partner in implementing it. however much the MDF and others insist that they are capable of governing and that they will be able to do it. 2. Well. and it’s not possible in Hungary either. That’s why we’re changing. 1989 MSZMP Central Committee meeting: “It would not be good if we were taken by surprise.” In: Az hfSZh4PKB 1989. 1989 Political Executive Committee meeting. p. 93. Pvi jegvzokonyvei. so that we can avoid political transition. the MSZMP does not endorse any political transition.

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At all events. which played no particularly significant role in their lives. Some became members of the new political elite and formed the “crkme de la crkme” of the new political class.The Making of a Political Elite: Participants in the Hungarian Roundtable Talks of 1989 Andrds Bozdki and Gergely Karticsony This chapter seeks to explain the political motivations and actions of the participants in the Roundtable talks on the basis of their antecedents. We are aware of the fact that an analysis of juvenile socialization and prior biography is. There are political actions which are deducible from previous decisions characteristic and decisive of someone’s biography. to some extent. What may justifjr our enterprise is our subject: the exceptional historical moment of political transition. and perhaps unexpectedly even for themselves. they spent weeks or months together. their first opportunity to flex their political muscle and show their . in the absence of other guiding principles. unable to provide a full explanation of political behavior in a given situation. concept-building and political discussions-as a short excursion. This exceptional period saw an increase in the value of prior historical experience and of the symbolic political patterns. the less significant is the role played by political innovation based on experience derived from home and from the broader juvenile community. which brought to the surface new rival groups and. Presumably. even in retrospect. a new political class. led the new political actors in a period termed “constitutional politics” by Dahrendorf‘. discussing a fundamental transformation of Hungary’s institutional system. challenges which broke the bonds of their previous lives. which. For the young it was a trial game. some returned to their original professions. their ways parted. others enjoyed it as a transient opportunity to bring the spotlight on themselves. on its own. but there are others which are not. 1989 proved to be an exceptional year for a change of elite: whilst some used it as a springboard to political power. and when that moment was over and the change of regime had taken place. found themselves at a historic moment at the negotiating table? Depending upon how deeply involved they were in the negotiations. previously unknown. Others considered the whole period-the negotiations themselves. had followed different ways of life before they met and suddenly. The participants in the negotiated revolution of 1989 arrived from several different directions. the more “routinized” the way in which institutionalized democratic politics function. others turned to the economy and the business sector. There were people who changed their lives fundamentally as they had to face new.

They had been established before communist rule and were reorganized after its loosening in the form of civic organizations and. similarly to the institutional transformation in its narrower sense. Finally.1948 National Peasants’ Party. the earlier deportees. In the following. of the political actors who appeared in the given political vacuum were effected more strongly than usual by historically influenced cultural values and traditions “brought from home”. in their broadest sense. which. e. were allowed to withdraw quietly from the scene. For the losers under the Kiidiir regime. The competition to possess the traditions and to make others accept them. i. We shall make the assumption that the political behavior and manifestations. What. and to find the identity of the new democracy was part of the constitutional revolution in 1989. in contrast with the other opposition organizations. we can undertake in this essay is to sketch the rough outlines of their social background.g.e. the members of the upper economic and political strata of the Kidfir regime. i.72 The Roirndtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy potential. the Social Democratic Party of Hungary (MSZDP). After all. Four of these parties participated in the National Roundtable Talks: the Independent Smallholders’ Party (FKGP). that they had never been legally abolished and thus had a right to renew their activities as parties.e. as the legal successor of the pre. therefore. those who participated in the 1956 revolution or the dissidents. . an opportunity to realize their dreams of the last few decades and to fulfil their careers before finally leaving the stage. defined themselves as parties and referred often to the principle of legal continuity. their task in 1989 was not to adapt themselves to an already functioning democratic political system through adopting its own. These organizations. it provided political satisfaction. A comprehensive analysis of the composition of the political actors and their groupings would require the scale and dimensions of a separate volume. the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) and the Hungarian People’s Party (MNP). In the concluding part of our essay. the winners. finally. For the older it was their swan-song. The Opposition Roundtable Historical Parties The so-called historical political parties were characteristic phenomena of the Hungarian democratic transition. we shall address the connections between the change of the elite and the dynamic of the political transformation. the publicly vilified. but to create a new regime together with its own “new traditions”. we shall first examine the participants from the parties making up the Opposition Roundtable (EKA)3. traditions. A detailed analysis of the social and political background of the 573 participants has not yet been carried out although most of the relevant data are now available. as reborn parties. existing. after which we shall proceed to analyze those of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (MSZMP).

We must. The history of the Independent Smallholders ’ Purty. The new beginning meant. The latter participated. whilst those members who had been working on the Communist take-over spent decades posturing in various representative. a suspicion which was probably not completely unfounded.A. who had survived the involuntarily apolitical decades without major confrontations and in intermediate level positions. which lost its importance completely within a few years. and their political strategy was. Bozdki-G. Its main leaders emigrated. also. For them. of course. it only acquired a truly important political role in the aftermath of World War II. The party united several different political lines stretching from the clerical right to the national left. They had still been young when they had joined the party apparatus and. The historical parties built bridges between the two distant phases of democratic development not only in cultural and ideological terms but also in terms of organization and through personal biographies. they were not radical. to many. the Patriotic People’s Front (HNF). to create a modern identity already suggest a negative answer. and a “restoration” of an interrupted democratic development which had started decades before. which enabled former functionaries of the Smallholders’ Party to maintain relations with one another‘. After the communist dictatorship the establishment of the new democracy was both a subsequent verification of the democratic traditions of Hungarian political culture and modem Hungarian history. Karacsony: The Making o a Political Elite f 73 The historical perspective played an important role in the whole of the political transition. In the re-organization of the party a prominent part was taken by the one-time third line of the party. first of all. they were to experience the break-up of the party and an interruption of their political career. The political transformation did not necessarily mean to them the establishment of democratic rules. the democratic transformation in the field of thought and vision meant a move not only in the direction of the fbture but also of the past. when. In this respect. loaded with internal tensions. ask how strong these “bridges” were since they had to span long decades and radical social changes. it was perceived as an opportunity to continue their disrupted political careers within the framework of a reorganized party. among others. but politically insignificant. others were pushed into the background. in the first free parliamentary elections in 1945. However. belonging to the FKGP became the most important element of their social identity. more importantly. a few years later. it received most of the votes of an electorate fearing a communist takeover. goes back to the period preceding the first World War. the completion of the “old beginning”4. offices. in the most important Communist satellite organization. At any rate. it is beyond doubt that the Communists used its inner divisions to wreck the party. even in the absence of the other op- . In Hungary. which represented the interests of the land-owning peasantry. directed towards the earliest possible restoration of the party as an organization.. The unsuccessful attempts of the historical parties. The latter have been assumed by many to have joined the party on the instructions of the Communist Party. waiting for an occasion to revive the party. and were happy to bargain with the MSZMP.

and also that many of the latter realized that their party career should be based on an unconditional loyalty to the old generation. in terms of political content. After a perhaps more vicissitudinous past than that of the latter. For all that their real and imaginary interests were attached to a regime change and their values differed fundamentally from the already declining dominant ideology. they were sometimes more moderate. After unification with the Communist Party in 1948. Tivadar Partay and others) were persuaded to re-establish the party at the end of 1988 by a group of middle-aged. After long detours. As. therefore. they attracted attention much more by their organizational skills than by their theoretical wellpreparedness. the party’s active participation in the Opposition Roundtable. By that time. the ways of the former Social Democrats diverged radically. Here. above .74 The Roundtuhle Talks of1 989: The Genesis o Himgarian Democracy f position parties. in whom the members had confidence. The cautious veterans (Vince Voros. Some of those who made a career within the state party became unconditional apologists for the Communist terror. however. whilst. Those who had come from the more peripheral circles (Imre Boross. The members of this group came from bourgeois intellectual families. others. they had managed to build up ordinary careers by the 1980s. They were. Jdzsef TorgyAn and others) were aware of the intellectual backwardness of the party and could not accept that the old men of the party would hand over the party leadership to themselves. they engaged themselves with great intensity in the work of various opposition and semi-opposition organizations. consequently. Others. in spite of all their active work. They also knew that only united action by the opposition would provide a chance to negotiate successfully with MSZMP. both their courage and pragmatism induced them to create a radical opposition organization. Confrontation between the two groups accompanied the first years of the party’s history. professional intellectuals. It was later mellowed by the fact that the anticommunists among the veterans supported the political goals of the middle-aged group. This step. In some respects the history of the Social Democratic Party of Hungary had been similar to that of the Smallholders’ Party. but they had felt always that their “class-alien” origin and non-membership of the Communist Party had blocked their advancement. and they urged. it also had been able to become a political factor only as Hungary was regaining her consciousness in the aftermath of the Second World War. more radical in terms of tactics than the other group within the party. they were increasingly squeezed out of the leadership of those organizations which were beginning to take shape. they presented themselves as representatives of a rural party membership who had been deprived of all their belongings. and the representatives of the latter contributed considerably to the fact that the recovery of consciousness was soon followed by a new period of horror. defined itself openly as a political party. who had been de-classed during the 1950s and exposed to renewed persecution after 1956. and ahead of. in contrast with. Nevertheless. the MSZDP was already divided between classical Social Democratic and Communist positions. the Communist take-over.

6 An opportunity was provided by the so-called New March Front (UMF). As they became better acquainted with social democratic politics in Western Europe. made them move also. Whilst the “people’s” social policy enabled tens of thousands of working-class youths to receive university education. Many of the former had in 1988 left the Communist Party. and they claimed their “historical right” to the leadership of the party. Bozdki-G. All of them were born in Social Democrat working-class families and joined the MSZDP as adolescents. The wind of political change. Whilst the old social democrats of working-class origin became “class-aliens” during the “dictatorship of the proletariat”. The members of the “right wing” of the party. were more disturbing for the system than even the representatives of the bourgeois parties. Their peripheral existence was only aggravated by the persecutions which followed their participation in the 1956 revolution.A . the formation of this opposition oriented attitude was not without its problems. the Hungarian Socialist Party or MSZP) played a very important role in introducing the economic reforms of the Communists. an organization called into existence by Rezso Nyers. since they did not belong to the “losers” under the old regime. and for a long time persecuted. In the shadow of this organization a Social Democratic movement was established by old. The majority of the re-organizers of the party in 1989 (Tibor Baranyai. they became political “class-aliens”. They had devoted their entire lives to social democracy and now felt that they had suffered too much during the previous decades to let former MSZDP members seize the party for themselves. however. the re-establishment followed the pressure of the middle-aged groups who were appearing around the old men of the party. in whose political career the most important turning point had been represented by 1948. which set itself to build bridges between the Communist Party and the reformist intelligentsia of the Left7. Similarly to the Smallholders’ Party. although. the members of the new generation made their careers during the consolidation which followed the 1956 revolution. They knew that the state party would be unable to renew itself in the direction of social democracy and that the MSZDP would thus have a chance on the democratic Left. Karacsony: The Making of a Political Elite 75 all Rezso Nyers (the last Secretary of the MSZMP and first President of its postOctober ‘89 successor. The party’s historical wing consisting of its older members were worried by the presence of former MSZMP members within the party. towards which their attitude had been rather ambivalent. Imre Takics and others) were also former Social Democratic functionaries. leading Social Democrats. after 1956. The unification of the parties meant a tragic break in their lives. Most of them were forced to emigrate. In some cases their fear turned almost into paranoia and they tended to regard every enthusiastic young person as a Communist agent. who had rejected its self-surrender. their left-wing identity gradually matured into an oppositional attitude. and several of those who remained in the country were jailed or. However. their anti-communism did not stop them from maintaining good relations with several . hanged. who were consulting continuously with Nyers and were awaiting an opportunity to re-establish the party.

who became members of the Communist Party in the 1970s.76 The Rottndtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy leading Communist politicians. the Hungarian People ’s Party. Their first step in this direction was the establishment of the Veres Peter Society!). which was pacified in a paternalistic fashion by some of the more empathetic representatives of the political leadership. the former members of the Peasants’ Party were not working on the disintegration of the system from inside but were building it from the outside. even if not uninterrupted. state farms. searched for a third way between the allegedly too superficial and individualistic West European societies and the Soviet Union. was established as the legal successor to the National Peasants’ Party which had been founded in 1938. careers. now with extremely right-wing and now extremely left. it was much more a cultural criticism. at the same time. their attitude towards Communist rule was ambivalent: at once both critical and ready for compromise. in their early twenties and at the beginning of their careers. whose very function was to meet the claims of certain groups to participate in public life without allowing them to engage in real political decision-making. above all Imre Pozsgay. Although the cultural impact of the movement was exceptionally strong. one should try to find points outside the sphere of politics at which the system could be made more humane and “livable”. From the 1960s onwards the representatives of this approach were able to enjoy burgeoning. Its populist ideology. which pushed the necessity of developing a rational critical attitude towards the existing political system as a whole into the background. i. The Communist collaborators within the party interpreted this in such a way that the necessary premises of a Communist dictatorship should be accepted and. Their criticism was not formulated in political terms. sociologists or journalists. Their goal was to ensure political representation for the peasantry. Imre Pozsgay. Whilst the party members who refused to obey the Communists had a chance to experience personally the inhumanity of their methods. which they considered excessively collectivist. The NPP was created by middle-class intellectuals. the collaborators learned from their own example that small-scale improvements are worth the odium of being accounted “fellow travel er^". The inner conflicts finally led to the secession of the most influential groups and a total loss of significance for the party. ministerial administrations and in the leadership of the Patriotic People’s Front. its intellectual character prevented it from becoming a significant political player. The broader circle around Pozsgay also included the middle-class intellectuals who shared the leadership of the MNP in 1989 with the former members of the National Peasants’ Party. . Most of them were first-generation intellectuals born in Budapest. began to dissolve. they were engaged in analyzing and organizing local societies. which received support from the Patriotic People’s Front and its leader. the reform Communist politician.e. they thought the time ripe for presenting themselves as an autonomous political force. However. When the system. Another participant in the negotiations. As educators. who formed the circle of nkpi (national populist) writers in the inter-war period. They filled leading positions in agricultural co-operatives.^ Unlike the Communist reformer intellectuals. however.

" The milder political climate of the 1980s made possible the re-establishment of the sub-cultural organizations around the Church. therefore. the older members were against it: they argued that the party was not yet well enough organized and should. Again. However. Their entire life had been attached to the Church and the Christian Socialist organizations around the Church. concentrate on its own . All of them attended Catholic secondary schools and. Bozdki-G. the revivers were supported by the HNF led by Pozsgay. many found refuge there when they were forced to the periphery of society. The members of the younger generation were born after the World War (e. despite the fact that it is the only party in whose case one can talk of genuine historical continuity. However. which had been appearing since the 1970s. Lhsz16 Surjhn. This apparent contradiction is a consequence of the specific.A. By the time. character of the party. sub-cultural. it was clear that Christian democracy did not mean the same thing for everyone: the cover of ideological unity had hidden differing political intentions. learn about the meaning of Christian democracy only from history books and stories told by the older generation. Although the Communist dictatorship annihilated the institutional system of the Catholic Church almost completely (e. The turning point came in 1988 with the establishment of the Mhrton &on Society. it was able to continue to transmit a Weltanschauung which was quite different from the official one. the organizers kept out of the increasingly loud opposition movements. institutional autonomy survived Communist rule-even if at the price of equivocal gestures.g. the Christian Democratic People's Party was the last one to be reorganized. the Opposition Roundtable had already started functioning and so joining it was an obvious step for many within the party. being in a symbolically oppressed position. Kardcsony: The Making of a Political Elite 77 Among the historical parties. The latent solidarity across the different generations seemed to form a potentially solid basis for a renaissance of Christian democracy in Hungary.I2 whose membership no longer consisted exclusively of extremely cautious. one-time party hctionaries but included middle-aged intellectuals responsive to the ideology of Christian Democracy. Gyorgy Giczy) and could." Its refounders endeavored to revive and represent not simply a party but an institutionally autonomous Catholic world. When the KDNP was established. although the representatives of the Catholic Church kept their distance from opposition initiatives. The members of the older generation (such as Shndor Keresztes) had earlier participated in the (temporarily) flourishing political life after the Second World War. despite the recovery of a public life with a Christian spirit. Moreover.g. there were basically two generations represented within the reorganized KDNP. therefore. Before 1948 this world did exist in Hungary. that these latent bonds became manifest. they created strong solidarity bonds among themselves. Once more. it was the relatively young who persuaded the hesitant veterans to declare the reestablishment of the party. however. Consequently. the majority of church schools were nationalized).

the party continued to maintain a very moderate stance. surprise action which would suddenly revive civic society and present the Communists with a fait ac~ompli.14By contrast.13 If one wants to create such a party. “right” or “left” need not be applied to their own party. They believed that the notions of being “opposition”. formulated in 1988. However. whereas Fidesz had been created as a political youth organization. Tlie Democratic League of Independent Trade Unions.78 The Roiindtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy problems. The BZSBT had started as a cultural group aiming at the preservation of traditions and the protection of Hungarian minorities abroad.’‘ Nevertheless.’~ In 1989. and the Federation of Young Democrats The member organizations of the Opposition Roundtable also included three civic organizations: the Democratic League of Independent Trade Unions (FSZDL. much more important to strengthen the party organization and the pillar institutions around it than to transform the political field. however. the founding members of the organization came almost exclusively from these disciplines. in principle. Three Non-party Organizations: The Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Friendship Society. for rapid political transformation would have been just as unfavorable for the re-formation of the CatholicChristian subculture as a political regression. the BZSBT and the League endeavored to mobilize the politically passive social groups through broadening civic society and spreading an evolutionist civic strategy. or. which should aim to create a broad social consensus on the basis of Christian thought and pragmatic political action. when opposition organizations appeared as representatives of Hungarian society against the MSZMP. All three organizations played important roles in laying down the road which led to the negotiations. the League). Their strategy. it is. The socio-cultural background of this group and the biographies of its members were in many ways similar to those of the dissident intellectuals of the democratic . and the Federation of Young Democrats (Fidesz). which had been created in response to the politically motivated intimidation of academic research institutes. the Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Friendship Society (BZSBT). Its most important member organization was the Democratic Trade Union of Academic Employees (TDDSZ). was one of a civic society. The representatives of the younger generation finally succeeded and the party joined the Opposition Roundtable. Since such pressure was exerted mainly upon human and social scientists. the leaders of Fidesz believed in rapid. The Democratic League o Independent Trade Unions was established as a f loose association of alternative trade union movements in late 1988. As for the dynamic of the transition. the strategy of the civic society seemed increasingly mere tactics compared to the new strategy pursued by the opposition forces: the strategy of united confrontation with the holders of political power. this reasoning was both defensible and politically effective. the League had originally been an alternative trade union.

it was quick to realize that the most important item on the agenda was the transformation of the political regime and it adjusted itself to this strategy. brought from home. Despite its best intentions. the League resembled a well-functioning think-tank rather than a trade union. breaking with the propagandistic image of reality they had formerly insisted upon. those members of the democratic opposition who were leading a “free floating” existence. Although nearly all came from intellectual families in Budapest. nor was there a generation gap between them. and artists and journalists trying to widen the circles of public discussion. in several cases. which. The fact that the development of trade union pluralism in Hungary can be attributed to the establishment of an academic trade union is far from being accidental. as much as they could.they often concluded their analyses with recommendations about what should be done: they felt at home in a dialogue which combined scientific. Although its representatives succeeded in preventing the passing of an anti-democratic strike bill proposed by the government. Hungarian society was not responsive to forms of collective interest enforcement. joined by reformist pedagogues. It soon became clear. tried to rely on a “scientifically founded” modernization program. They tried to remain inside the trenches of the academic institutional system but attempted to help. Its activities in the National Roundtable talks were reminiscent only in part of the activities o f a trade union.I9 The Bajcsy-Zsilinszky2’ Friendship Society was established with the assistance of Imre Pozsgay’s Patriotic People’s Front at the beginning of 1986. Karricsony: The hiirkiiig of a Political Elite 79 opposition.A. As reform-economists or sociologists. it actually questioned the most important goals of the system concerning legitimacy.17In fact. that Hungarian social science would fulfil the expectations of the political power only partially. many started their intellectual careers only after some detours. the League. which forced the government to retreat. their active engagement in public life was a reaction to the political attacks against the academic institutional system. The renewed conflict between social scientists and political decision-makers had its roots in the late 1960s. The articulation and representation of community interests became overwhelmingly the task of the intellectuals and this in its turn became indistinguishable from representing the interests of intellectuals. It was then that a new effort of the Communist political ascendancy to gain legitimacy was articulated. it became a supporter of the SZDSZ during the inner polarization process of the Opposition Roundtable. Their cultural capital. was unable to become a real trade union. however. Most of them had been born in the late 1940s or in the early 1950s. charitable and political considerations. Bozciki-G. Although 1988 saw strikes at several points of the country. Since most of the negotiators of the League were also members of the liberal Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ). it remained a lobby group of intellectuals. It was not its social weight but the arguments of its experts. and the experience of the years spent in unskilled jobs or as journalist trainees developed in them a desire to understand intellectually and solve existing social problems. The ’* . Although the League emphasized strongly the importance of the negotiations about economic matters.

Since during most of the negotiations members of the MDF were also representing the Society. Social Democratic or the Communist Parties. controllable and comprehensible only to insiders. the representatives of the BZSBT thought that this element should be the consciousness of national identity. The climax of the society’s activities was its dominant role in organizing a demonstration of several thousand people against the destruction of villages in Transylvania in the summer of 1988. was favorable to the verbally talented. Lhszl6 KovCr and others) were first-generation intellectuals of provincial origin. This group included the Society’s president. The college students and young intellectuals who founded the federation made no secret of their intention to contribute to the creation of a “new Hungary” which would be fundamentally different from the existing one. the leading figures of Fidesz (Viktor Orbhn. it was not surprising that the BZSBT delegation was the closest political partner of the MDF within the Opposition Roundtable. not only to replace the generation ahead of them in the professional field. who had entered the political arena for the first time in 1944-45 in the colors of the Smallholders’. collectivist. The Federation of Young Democrats was established by members of various autonomous university clubs in the spring of 1988. had established close links with the . ready-for-action. and then overshadowed. With few exceptions. but also to ensure that these changes would have political consequences also. who had established a close relationship with Imre Pozsgay in the 1980s and who was also an old friend of J6zsef Antall (later to become president of the Hungarian Democratic Forum. as students. Apart from the risk of expulsion. Khroly Vigh. gifted would-be politicians. The world of university clubs. who had studied at Budapest universities and. they lost any illusions about the new system rather quickly and 1956 found them among the participants in the revolution. Not least because of a different family background from that of the mainstream of their generation. with which it was probably helped by its traditionally good relationship with Pozsgay. the MDF). by their maturing as politicians. This group had had no opportunity to take root in the previous system. middle-class families. It was the first openly political organization to set itself in its foundation charter to break the existing power monopoly of the League of Communist Youth (KISZ) among young. Whilst the League considered social solidarity as the constitutive element of a civic society to be organized in opposition to political power. who were able to exercise a great influence on their peers thanks to their radical behavior” . and many in the Hungarian communities of neighboring countries. The BZSBT was established by members of the inter-war generation.80 The Roundtable Talh of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy Society’s main goal was to revive the national political traditions and draw attention to the problems of the Hungarian minorities beyond the borders of the country. Most were born into bourgeois. these young people had nothing to lose. Ever since the national meeting of university clubs in 1985 they had been making conscious preparations. Their professional development was at first accompanied.

Undoubtedly. Another important group within Fidesz was formed by young intellectuals coming from smaller towns and whose parents belonged to the local elite. They thought that there could be no reconciliation without a break with the past. occasionally populist. whilst the students of working-class origin were anti-elitist and possessed a more radical rhetoric. For others. This company. the reform Communist Prime Minister of the 1956 revolution. the first task was to accomplish this. and ill-disposed towards. by the state party and supported by the moderate opposition. Bozdki-G. as a matter of course. said at the funeral of Imre Nagy. by the polyglot children of the educated middle-classes with an intellectual background spanning several generations. and the university life-style. and. an important. if not determinant. at least. the second generation. demands. Both groups were accepted quickly by the opposition sub-culture in Budapest. They lent a liberal-cosmopolitan character to the movement. Its characteristic radicalism determined Fidesz’s behavior during the Roundtable talks and the political events influencing them. was joined by young. the radical youth of Fidesz respected even more than Imre Nagy those who did not need to become martyrs in order to be justified and who had never served dictatorial ideas in their lives. Most of these. which were totally new. who were attracted. the official establishment of the party state. They were also more suspicious of. by the fresh voice and the alternative character of Fidesz. for them it was life in a metropolis. they travelled the road of social and geographic mobility upwards into the elite circles within 10 to 15 years.A. They did not want to be assimilated into the Budapest elite but rather to surpass it. non-intellectual groups who were most often termed “lumpen” elements by Communist propaganda. Viktor Orbiin. Fidesz was a supporter of opposition unity but dismissed premature negotiations with the MSZMP and the politics of “national reconciliation” as dictated. however. At the same time this group was complemented. .or lower-middle-class background. role was played by young Budapest intellectuals of. dominated by Budapest university students of provincial origin. which is a possible explanation for their subsequent conflicts. as there had been no such break. the university leadership and even the opposition elite in Budapest. The main difference between the two groups was that those with an intellectual background assimilated quickly to this sub-culture. This is why the most charismatic member of the organization. at least symbolically. that the youth respected Nagy for having been able to break with his Communist conviction for the sake o f hjs people. They formulated radically basic democratic. Coming from the countryside. The “Workers’ Group” of Fidesz consisted of low-skilled or unskilled young people from Budapest with a working. Finally. Kardcsony: The Making ofa Political Elite 81 democratic opposition: they invited its members to university clubs or even joined in their oppositional activities. mostly from working-class families. not only against the regime and the Communist Party but also towards the Fidesz leadership. first of all. left the party later. this same journey took several generations.

however. They were the two most influential parties. During the Roundtable talks Fidesz became one of the most important strategic allies of the Alliance of Free Democrats. democratic. radicalism was a radicalism of action rather than of ideas. which in turn became the determinant parties of the emerging Hungarian democracy. The representatives of the two parties were in agreement about the majority of the points for discussions and the most important basic questions. the restrained voice did not mean a surrender of the organization’s radical program or of its transitional strategy emphasizing the necessity of breaking with the past. they are often even dogmatic. This sounds paradoxical since radical movements tend to be less pragmatic and more ideological in all countries. a peaceful transition was a fundamental principle €or Fidesz. which had. Despite their youth. . The Fidesz leaders did not refer to any ideologies against the state ideology (which was crumbling away anyway). Fidesz representatives at the Roundtable talks adopted a much more restrained voice than the organization’s aggressive base might have suggested. The Lending Parties o the Opposition Roundtable: The Hungarian f Democrntic Forum and the Alliance of Free Democrats All contemporary documents and subsequent recollections of the events make it clear that the Hungarian Democratic Forum and the Alliance of Free Democrats were the two leading parties of the Opposition Roundtable. in some respects. Although representatives of Fidesz who were considered “moderate” participated in the talks also. which condemned violence. The aim was later complemented by a demand that the country must continue to function. These movement initiatives transformed into a “forum” (MDF) or a “network” and later an “alliance” (SZDSZ). which had been created by the social movements of the 1980s (complemented by Fidesz. a different character but which took up a similarly distinctive stance). the radical and rational stance of the Fidesz leaders invigorated. also. in fact. Their legal and economic professional socialisation played an important part in all of this. became almost an embodiment of “positive thinking”. They referred to rights as opposed to the existing laws. They had had an opportunity to acquire the skills of logical reasoning and to learn the references and the cardinal points within the constitution which were relevant to the principles of democracy and to the rule of law. The early Fidesz was both radically and pragmatically liberal.82 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hirngariaii Democracy In a disintegrating dictatorship which had lost much of its ideological substance and its penetrating skeptical-cynical intellectual culture. Here. the competence of Fidesz members was questioned by none of the other participants when the negotiating delegations of the working committees were set up?* The goal to be reached during the talks was identical for all Fidesz delegates: they wanted to create conditions in which free elections could be held and to lay down the foundations of a stable. and constitutional state.

Following the long. Thanks to its early establishment. which was at that time much smaller than the Forum. was a successor to the West-oriented. Although both groups had to face the same opponent. 2 ~ one year. unifying. the MDF managed to attract the best and most active members of the provincial intelligentsia eager for change and it was thus able to become the most powerful and well-known movement of the new opposition. the best members of the free intellectual professions and the radical provincial groups dissatisfied with the moderate policies of the MDF. which made it unable to “open up” quickly. it managed to use the Network of Free Initiatives (in short. raised these cultural differences to the level of politics in 1988-89 for the first time. based on the people’s existing characteristics. The Alliance of Free Democrats. could be elaborated only within the fkamework of the Opposition Roundtable. the strategy of a peaceful and democratic transition. Nevertheless. however. Karucsony: The Making o a Political Elite f 83 The two parties differed culturally to a considerable extent.A. the MDF changed its point of view and sought the possibility of reconciling its functioning as a movement and as a party. Both groups represented cultural networks and intellectual circuits present within the Hungarian intelligentsia and. urban intellectual tradition. it was not before October 1989 that the Forum declared itself a party and the movement wing became just one of the decisive currents within the party. this induced them to behave for a long time as merely tactical rather than as truly strategic allies. Bozdki-G. in fact. The Hunguriun Democratic Fortrrn was created in September 1987 as an intellectual movement adopting the legacy of nkpi ~ r i t e r s . Both groups were strong. subsequently. had a mature concept of the transition.25Parallel to this. which. Half a year later. The main reason for this was to be found in their different answers to the modernization dilemma which had been characteristic of Hungarian political culture for many decades. Leaders of the Hungarian Democratic Forum considered the nkpi (national populist) writers’ movement of the 1930s as their most important intellectual predecessor. the democratic opposition was more radical and its leadership better organized. The common strategy. The MDF had a committed membership and enjoyed wide support whilst the SZDSZ. . radical-liberal and social democratic. which had been developed in the West. according to its founding charter. the After loose intellectual association transformed into an organization. acknowledged the inevitability of a multi-party system but said it did not want to become a party. the MSZMP and the political system of the Communist dictatorship. growing out of the democratic opposition of the 1980s. Eventually. The nkpiek (national populists) believed that the best solution to the problems of Hungarian society would be the creation of an original Hungarian way. the Network) and. years of underground activity. the SZDSZ for gathering around itself a large part of the Budapest intelligentsia. in March 1989. It was decisive for the birth of Hungarian democracy that the two most powerful “tribes”23of the opposition were able to sit down at the negotiating table in the spring of 1989 and reach an agreement about questions no longer merely tactical but also strategic. The liberal group advocated the introduction of the patterns of the modern civic democracies.

which was born at the turn of the ‘1970s and ‘80s. politically much less significant.” Although nkpi thought was shaken by the fundamental social changes after the Second World War. Since 1971. The older members of the MDF’s founding group. Similarly to the above. It was Zolthn Bir6 who became the leader of this younger group.” They were born as the ‘1920s turned into the ‘30s and grew up in the period when the old Hungary collapsed and the new Hungary. Bir6 was considered a representative of Pozsgay rather than what he actually became by 1988: the political reorganizer of the populist tradition. generation of populists. Most of these were first-generation intellectuals who had discovered the works of the populist writers during their university years and became “students of the students”. very soon itself turned into a totalitarian dictatorship. increasingly fragmented. antireform forces. and the historian Lajos Fiir. differed not only from those of his peers but also from the majority of the populist group. In the beginning. putting on the agenda the long-tabooed problenis of the Hungarian minorities in the neighboring countries. 1956 found them on the side of the revolution. Hungarian People’s Party. They joined the critics of “fridge socialism” in the 1960s but showed an ambivalent attitude towards the democratic opposition. All these events were antecedents of changes in the composition of the Forum’s leading groups. the MDF. Whereas its founding charter of 1988 was unwilling to accept “either the label of being progovernment or that of being opposition. subsequently. however. maintained an ambivalent attitude towards the Khdhr regime. the. among them the poet Siindor Csobri. Lhszl6 Nkmeth and Pkter Veres. Their romantic criticism of Western modernisation and consumer society unavoidably strengthened the system and often precisely its orthodox. Although some of them fell under the spell of the Communist Party in their youth. However. they also undermined the foundations of the system’s stability by reviving national traditions and. Whilst others were non-party meniber intellectuals who were often employed in positions inferior to their knowledge and education. which was in the beginning sympathetic to the social reformist. nkpi ideology. the Forum had become one of the most important organizations of the EKA. had known personally the great figures of the populist writers. or the compulsion to choose between the two at by March 1989. . The other group of founders belonged to the third.28 The most respected populist writers.84 The RoundtabIe Talks of1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy the political self-definition of the MDF changed also. above all Gyula Illy6s. he represented the populist cause as a cultural affairs politician within the trenches of political power. the “founding fathers” of the MDF were intellectuals educated in the humanities who endeavored to revive the populist ideology of the inter-war period. later turned into a political alliance when the nkpi camp decided to create its own autonomous intellectual movement. it survived in its cultural form in works of literature. the writers Istvhn Csurka and Gyula Fekete.3o Their relationship. he had worked in the apparatus of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and became one of the closest colleagues of Imre Pozsgay when the latter was made minister. however. Bir6’s biography.

They did not yet know that they were giving up their chance to direct the political transition and their own party also. However. participated in the first conference of the opposition. however. which was organized more or less openly and to which the then chief secretary of the HNF. After the establishment of the Opposition Roundtable in March 1989. organized under highly conspiratorial circumstances. this question lost its significance. a year later. was invited besides the wider populist circle. Another event which made the MDF well-known to the public was the demonstration against the plan of the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu to destroy Transylvanian villages. the chances of opposition co-operation vanished temporarily when the publication of the program. At that time. the nipiek had already decided to call a conference on their own. by the spring of 1989 it was the lawyer Lhszl6 S6lyom and the historian Gyorgy Szabad who were playing the decisive roles. Bozdki-G. including the liberal Publicity Club (Nyilvcinosscig Klub). The meeting in Lakitelek showed the new political strategy of the populists: they were trading off being openly oppositional against publicity and the support of Imre P o z ~ g a y . With the aid of the reformers led by Pozsgay.~’ was considered by the populists as a sign of the democratic opposition’s intention to create a fait accompli so that they could rewrite the rules of the game for opposition co-operation. political reform and the situation of the Hungarian minorities in front of a growing public. As a well-known law professor. totalitarian ideologies. which is why they let others represent the MDF in the talks. which addressed the questions of constitutionality. In 1987. it was the leaders of the MDF who were pushing the reform-communist politicians to secure subsequent fundamental changes. LAszl6 Sblyom. who participated in the first EKA session as a representative of the Independent Lawyers’ Forum (FJF). was born into a Catholic. There came a moment when it was impossible to know whether the MDF was a card in the hands of its reform-communist patrons or vice versa.A. they sought contact with the democratic opposition and. he participated in the founding of several civic organizations of very different profiles. they had only loose links to the MDF and their biographies and political views also differed from those of the founders. organized in collaboration with the BZSBT. ~ ~ forum character of the MDF became especially evident The during the debates held at the Jurta Theatre in Budapest from the beginning of 1988. he had never fallen under the spell of “world-redeeming”. Although several prominent members of the nipi intellectuals participated in the initial phase of the EKA sessions and negotiations. Karacsony: The Making o a Political Elite f 85 After the nkpiek had lobbied unsuccessfully in 1984 for a periodical of their own and the espousal of the problems of the Hungarian minorities. the MDF became the most important “alternative” organization. the environmen- . middle-class family who were de-classed in the 1950s. T h a d a l m i Szerz6a‘ks [Social C~ntract]. Imre Pozsgay. His openly demonstrated Jewish descent also distinguished him from the populists. Although Szabad belonged to Csobri’s generation. The then leaders of the Forum perceived this as a loss of prestige but they did not want the MDF to stay out of it.

Although he had participated in the work of the Kovhcs Bkla Political Society. Nevertheless. The communist take-over meant to him more than simply the sinking of his social class: it broke his nascent career into two. At least. the proto-organization of the Christian Democratic People’s Party. it was already J6zsef Antall who was the most important representative of the MDF. Similarly to Sdyom. He did this at the beginning of 1989 when he was already openly engaged in MDF politics. Szabad and many middle-age representatives of the FKGP and the KDNP. he did not join the reborn party. In the Roundtable talks.33 Although he spent his time consciously extending his network of contacts. during the preparatory talks between the EKA and the MSZMP. After participating as a young man in the re-establishment of the FKGP in 1956. the Christian Democratic Mirton Aron Society and the Independent Lawyers’ Forum. Antall knew a great many people. he considered the Smallholders’ Party not only as a potential ally but also as a rival and so he encouraged its old members to prevent the take-over of the party’s leadership by intellectual groups from outside. he was aware of the pitfalls which would await him there and could more easily imagine a political career within the MDF. Antall stood close to the old members of the Smallholders’ Party who were working on the resurrection of their party. which had been interrupted in his youth.34 As a consequence of family tradition and the resulting political contacts. which preceded the re-establishment of the party itself. and the political transformation offered him an opportunity to resume his political career. Nev- . but he still preserved his influence as an advisor to the FKGP party president. When the Christian Democrats finally established their party they actually asked him to become their operative leader but he refused. this is suggested by the fact that Antall strongly supported the expulsion of intellectuals revolting against the gerontocratic rule of the FKGP. he came from the civil-service middle-class of the inter-war period. Antall had wanted to become a politician all his life. When he joined the MDF he knew only Shndor Cso6ri and Gyorgy Szabad among the leaders of the MDF and the Forum seemed to be on the left rather than the right side of the political spectrum. he restrained himself from all forms of “public opinion shaping”. however. Very probably. but no one outside this circle knew him. Antall left public life completely and “survived” the Kid&regime on the periphery of academic life. S6lyom played his most important role in the initial phase of the EKA. As one of his biographers put it. he maintained his contact with the veterans of the Smallholders’ Party so that he would be able to organize the right-wing political camp. However. His father was a politician in the FKGP from the early 1940s and distinguished himself by organizing relief funds for prisoners of war who had fled to Hungary during the Second World War and as Minister of Reconstruction immediately after the War. Antall was also a member of the BZSBT and the Mhrton Aron Society. They had confidence in him because of his father and because his political knowledge was much superior to theirs.86 The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f talist Danube Circle (Duna Kor).

They remained apart from the regime not only politically but also culturally: in their life style and values. relative freedom and even the possibility of latent opposition. they would have to transform themselves from a political vanguard into a wider and looser socio-political association. by the mid-l960s. environmentalists. chance which opened a way or hem into the MDF. it was their accurate intuition concerning the political situation and. which went into decline at the time of their birth. if they wanted to achieve success in democratic politics. occasionally. The Alliance ofFree Democrats was established in November 1988 as a political party which intended to take on the intellectual legacy of the democratic opposition of the 1970s and 1980s. he soared to take the Prime Minister’s seat within a year. Antall believed that the Forum would provide the best frame both for organizing the right-wing camp and. members of religious communities. Although they had not made their voice heard before. they were then able to develop into a wider organization. groups and initiatives of civic society. they were able to embark upon intellectual careers. the members of this group resembled in their social characteristics much more the middle generation of the Smallholders’ Party and the Christian Democratic People’s Party than its populist peers within the MDF. uniting and helping the existing. Those born in the 1940s experienced the collapse of the country in the war and the dismissal of their parents from their jobs. It was there that they established their careers and strengthened their party identity. As with Antall. thanks to his network built up over decades. As. Similarly to Antall. came to the fore during the roundtable talks. The Network’s goal was to act as a typical “umbrella organization” and help the process of democratic transformation by covering. which provided the most important springboard for him. It was his performance in the National Roundtable talks. By accepting similar values. who formed the professional hinterland of the MDF. Kardcsony: The Making o a Political Elite f 87 ertheless. the . This first opportunity for this was provided by the Network of Free Initiatives. It was perhaps not accidental that most of them worked as lawyers: many of them came from old lawyer families and this traditional profession provided them with a decent living. but individually weak. Virtually all of them came from the civil-servant middle-class. the “new boys”. simultaneously. The inner circles of the democratic opposition (with a decade’s experience of mutual solidarity) had to face the fact at the beginning of 1988 that. For the leaders of the democratic opposition. Their family tradition ruled out political involvement in the Khdhr regime but they avoided also all forms of political resistance. From this. securing his own career. among which religion played a central part.A. which was established in May 1988 together with participants in the 1956 revolution. university students and other groups. radical economic reformers. In addition to their values. This enabled sympathisers with the democratic opposition to “catch up” with the radicalism of their leaders and join them in a looser form. Bozoki-G. as soon as it became more or less legally possible. they sought for an opening to engage in politics. they no longer counted as “class aliens” at university entrance examinations.

and by the mid-1950s they had simply became either the soldiers or puppets of tyranny. did not want ever again to fall victim to either Nazism or anti-Semitic prejudice. which was based on lies and petty collusion with political power. by the time that they were able to look around. Suddenly they had to give speeches in front of crowds and they had to prove in front of these people that they were both credible and worthy of respect. As the racist ethno-politics of the 1930s had prevented them from completing their successful assimilation into Hungarians. a necessary prerequisite for establishing a party. Having survived a racist regime and experienced its collapse in war. they joined the adherents of the class struggle and of a “people’s democracy” and thus became volunteers for a dictatorship based on class oppression. they had to realize that they could not even trust one another any more. whilst MBtyis RBkosi. In November 1988 the majority of the leaders of the Network thought that the situation was ripe for the establishment of a party and of wider group cohesion. in the second half of the 1940s. it had become clear that this participative way of hnctioning. J h o s KidBr and . and against the “petit bourgeois’ practice of the system in the 1960s. whilst the ideas of liberalism appeared to them as too weak and incapable of self-defense. they would become marginalized in the subsequent months. after the Second World War. The Alliance of Free Democrats consequently lost a few supporters but increased its capacity for action. which replaced the previous one based on racial oppression. The new party clearly committed itself to opposing the regime. The dissident intellectuals of the democratic opposition had belonged to the rebellious youth of the 1960s and many of their parents had devoted their efforts to a political transformation of a different sort (under a very different emblem) twenty to twenty-five years earlier. Many of them had led middle-class or lower middle-class bourgeois existences. if they failed to take this step. they knew only the authoritarian system of the inter-war period. the mad dictator of the 195Os. By the time that the operational principles took shape. attracted significant radical groups to the SZDSZ. As for capitalism. had survived the man-hunt by the German and Hungarian Nazis or had returned from the death camps and. They believed that. who included some of those who were beginning to consider the moderate politics of the Forum as too cautious or “double-dealing”. This stance. declared widely and spreading as a result of growing openness. socialist ideas which promised a radically new type of humanism. they wished to find their new identity in the universalistic.88 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy Network turned out to be a new area of political socialization inasmuch as they had to be credible and persuasive in an environment in which they and their antecedents were not necessarily known. however. The young people coming from this milieu revolted both against their parents’ participation in the establishment. was too slow and timeconsuming and prevented the group from determining the course of the political processes. However. They felt that. did not succeed in breaking the backbone of the people. based on wide-ranging negotiations among the member organizations.

almost all of whom had fallen victim to the Shoah. Renaissance Marxism. “velvet”. and it published the samizdat publication Besze‘lo”. it had only been a counter-cultural group conspiring above all in the commotion of house parties.Until then. it was the events in Prague in 1968 which proved the turning point within the process of their turning into an opposition. later. At that time the young were already learning the patterns of revolt from the West: through the New Left. Although the SZDSZ became heir to the democratic opposition in an intellectual and political sense.~~ initiative was taken by a 36-year old socioloThe . radical democracy and. movements expressing solidarity with the oppressed of the Third World and anti-colonialist demonstrations. counterculture. whose goal was humanistic socialism. Although Kis had been a member of the MSZMP since 1966. It became clear that the Soviet power would crush not only the Hungarian revolution in 1956. from the party in 1973 because of his refractory views. This group was soon declared as opposition. became a convinced communist and Kis started his studies at a special school for the children of the communist apparatus. In his inner migration. The most important representative of this group was the philosopher JBnos Kis. popular. marginal group. This attempt finally led to a break with Marxism. following in his master’s footsteps. Members of this company knew each other very well and were used to working together. They had to “open up”.A. there was no turning back. Studying philosophy. idealist. Bozdki-G. reform movement in Czechoslovakia. way to an increasingly wider public. but also in a cultural sense. but also the peaceful. who was born into an urban middle-class family. the establishment of the party in November 1988 was not carried out by the “hard core” of the democratic opposition but by intellectuals who stood close to the oppo~ition. together with many other intellectuals. To some extent they found themselves in a familiar situation: in the vanguard role of a new. at least theoretically: the process of becoming an opposition ~tarted. later a movement. and later. not only in a political. he became a student of Gyorgy Mirkus and. participative democracy. The dissident group led by Kis became a politically significant opposition force only at the beginning of the 1980s when a state of emergency was introduced in Poland. enabling them to communicate the ideas of human rights. From this point.~’ Many left Hungary but the real adventure was undertaken by those who remained in the country. the cult of spontaneity. or even as the “enemy”. However. locating itself within the discourse of human rights. The only survivor of the family. he was expelled. about which they themselves perhaps felt ambivalent. liberalism in an easily intelligible. but the group was quite closed to the outside world. his mother. the esoteric philosopher who contrasted “existing socialism” with humanist socialism became the leader of an influential opposition group. Karacsony: The Making of a Political Elite 89 his “soft dictatorship” had managed to achieve this. he lost his job also. beyond the eyes and ears of the police. searched for the possibility of resolving the tension between Marx’s politico-economical and (especially early) philosophical writings. sexual revolution. by the ruling communist party.

who could now feel that they were becoming part of a well-functioning. close to the social scientists who represented the League. a documentarian and editor of a periodical. despite the fact that they had been the most resolute in rejecting the Kiidiir regime. re-elected at the assembly of the delegates in spring. especially conspicuous when compared to that of most of the civic movement leaders. rising team. The groups preceding the formation of the SZDSZ were dominated originally by sociologists and philosophers. he was able to make good use of his network in public life. Several of them belonged to the Democratic Trade Union of Academic Employees and stood. The provisional executive body of the SZDSZ. Those were joined. His knowledge of social problems. Those who joined the enterprise were. made a great impact on the newcomers. Balint Magyar. as a sociologist of agriculture.90 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracv gist. one of those who were the most impatient at Network Council sessions. the leadership of the party offered work to all lawyers who had come into contact with the party. As the "eminence grise" of the democratic opposition. motivated more by the professional than the political challenge. Pkter Tolgyessy. In no more than two months Tolgyessy was no longer simply one of the party delegates but the political and legal strategist of the liberal-radical opposition. his dynamism and professionalism. which led to an increase in the influence of the most active leaders with good organizing skills. They feared that they would be left out of the mainstream of political transition. through the Network. However. and many of whom would play an important role in the economic working committees of the National Roundtable. the outstanding figure of the National Roundtable talks was a young constitutional lawyer with his own concept of a new constitution. was based on the principle of collective leadership. in general. Magyar had played a key role in the distribution of the illegal periodical Besze'lo"and thus enjoyed the unconditional trust of the old members of the opposition. . who were looked upon as radical reformers by both their professions and the public. Magyar articulated and amplified their voice. by economists and social scientists. who soon assumed the leadership. When it came to organizing the party. he communicated regularly with members of several different social groups. Bhlint Magyar represented a bridge between the former democratic opposition and the representatives of the various intellectual groups who were now joining the party. the most important person in the SZDSZ and this situation changed only because of the return of J h o s Kis. Magyar also played an important role in organizing the professionals around the party. and the majority decided on transformation into a party. Since there was a shortage of lawyers in the professional team of the Free Democrats. Magyar had not lost his job in the Kadhr regime and. which lasted for hours but accomplished little. perhaps. who joined the SZDSZ in first only as an expert. Between November 1988 and June 1989 Magyar was. in the beginning. Those who joined the organization in the hope of exercising political influence more effectively were ready to follow the way of party-creation. They were to participate in the working out of the program of political transformation.

We would summarize our argument in Table 1. Although he had participated in working out the discussion paper Fordulat ks refornz [Turnabout and Reform] and occasionally also at events organized by local organizations of the MDF. middle-of-the road forces. They were able to find those politicians who could best correspond to the challenges of each phase. the MDF and the SZDSZ had similar problems in creating a democratic political party. Using his suddenly enhanced prestige.~’ did not take long at It before he outgrew his role as an expert and appeared as a politician willing to face confrontational situations in public. he started the negotiations with a mature concept of a new constitution and amazed his fellow party members and negotiating partners by his well-prepared views and vitality. Tolgyessy’s dynamic appearance radicalized the politics of the Free Democrats.A. tried to “pull to the middle” the politics of the SZDSZ. whilst the SZDSZ was smaller and more radical. J h o s Kis maintained an expressly cautious political stance for weeks after his return home and. the MDF took the lead. In short. Even the party leaders who had returned from abroad needed some time to become accustomed to his pace. he undertook independent actions and managed to present even his allies with f i s ac~omplis. In most of the period between 1988 and 1989. working capacity and dan made him one of the informal leaders of the SZDSZ within months. For example. Nevertheless. At the same time Tolgyessy thought that the situation was already such that Hungary had to go further than the Polish way of covenanted transition. Bozdki-G. Koracsony: The Making of a Political Elite 91 Tolgyessy burst into politics from academia and founded his political career by his performance at the Roundtable talks. and his expertise. Although Tolgyessy was formally under the control of the executive body of the SZDSZ. the party had to distinguish itself clearly from the more moderate. Table 1. although at some points the SZDSZ seemed to head the race. his political antecedents were less significant than those of any other roundtable participant. there was no one more competent in legal-constitutional questions than he. By the s u m e r of 1989 he represented. Phases of Pluralization and Leaders of the Two Most Influential Political Groupings (1 985-1989) Time 1985-1987 1988 1389 Phase ideological organizational constitutional Effective Leaders MDF SZDSZ Sandor Cso6ri (poet) Zolthn Bir6 (bureaucrat) Jozsef Antall (historian) Janos Kis (philosopher) Balint Magyar (sociologist) Peter Tolgyessy (lawyer) . In his views. but not exactly at the same time. together with Viktor Orbin. as he said. They had to undergo three distinct phases of party-formation in order to find their place in democratic politics. the views of the radical opposition at least as much as J6zsef Antall represented the views of the moderate-conservative opposition. The MDF was larger and less confrontational.

their views on different aspects of the future of their country. The second period can be designated the organizational phase. an agreement on the most fundamental issues. they had to reach a rnodzrs vivendi. above all. the former became the first Prime Minister of democratic Hungary. In this phase. This was the question of historical iiljustice. their . Their place. and their communist party membership became a prerequisite of advancement in the party hierarchy. This was effectively done by the essayist and cultural bureaucrat. and Peter Tolgyessy. the last before the free elections. it was forced to assume the role of representing the collapsing communist regime against opposition forces enjoying increasing support from society as a whole. both at central and local level. was a distinguished participant in the Roundtable talks in the summer of 1989. and the problem of Hungarian minorities living outside the borders. in consequence. totally indebted to the Party. the generation of the 1960’s and 70’s. Whilst the first generation consisted of cadres elevated by the Party. The Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party The “other side”. everyday work to build the party-organization at grassroots level and. and who were. This period was the ideological phase. The uneducated or “party school” graduates who had flooded the Stalinist. played this role. However. moreover. when ideology and organization had both taken rooted and been established. and. for the nkpi intellectual groups. Finally. and of upward mobility. Here the political parties had to lay out their scenarios for the regime change. (MDF). it was the phase of negotiations. the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (MSZMP). totalitarian Hungarian Workers’ Party (MDP) at the turn of the 1940s and 1950s had grown too old by the middle of the 1980s. i. was increasingly taken over by the “second communist generation”. Both of the rival parties responded to this challenge of 1989. whilst the latter led the parliamentary caucus of the strongest opposition party. As the state party formally still holding monopolistic power. the predecessor of the SZDSZ. which required active. less convinced communists in an intellectual-ideological sense. This phase of pluralization required moral authority in both political camps. Zoltiin Bir6 (MDF) and the sociologist Bilint Magyar (SZDSZ).92 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy In the first period of their development both parties needed a solid idea. This second generation differed fundamentally from the first. or occasionally after. elaborated by the political theorist and philosopher Jiinos Kis. J6zsef Antall. (SZDSZ). the constitution-making phase. the Communist party was no longer a party of the KQdiir3’generation alone. in other words. For the democratic opposition. this idea was human rights. the members of the second generation joined the Party only during. an ideological blueprint. predecessors of the Hungarian Democratic Forum. to open up to the rest of society. Siindor Cso6ri. which came. an attractive and credible value system. and both personalities corresponded well to this task.e. They were. at the same time. represented by the poet. In 1990.

the apparatus of the ministries and 3. the Ministry of Justice. the difference between them being that they were able from the beginning to study at university. The first generation hated capitalism. The negotiating delegation of the MSZMP was basically recruited from three places: 1. In fact. the first generation was puritan. skeptical-cynical generation. were replaced by modernizing reformers who were supported halfheartedly and ambivalently by the old Khdiirist establishment. Nevertheless. Party membership was necessary for members of the second generation in order to advance their careers since they also came from below. The first generation39considered themselves. and their cultural capital was insufficient to raise them to the intellectual elite of the era. uneducated and ideological. Their professional education was also valued by the leaders of the Party. The revolutionaries. the negotiations might well have taken place only because the Party was dominated by this pragmatic. 2. the party headquarters. the second one played tennis. since the leadership hoped that the professionalism of the second generation would be able to rescue the system as a whole. Their task was to push through the political strategy approved by the party leadership and determined by Gyorgy Fejti within the negotiating delegation of the MSZMP. Delegates from party headquarters participated in all working committees. were born into relative poverty. As party members. the members of the working committees were selected primarily by the Secretary of the Central Committee of the MSZMP Gyorgy Fejti. liberal democracy and the West. who were manipulated from above and who brought about the change of regime after the Second World War. the second was career-minded. reformist. The first generation went hunting. . as a member of the government. since the latter objected to the very existence of negotiations with the opposition. The delegates selected from the party apparatus by Fejti tended to represent the harder line within the MSZMP delegation. none of these represented the real hard-liners of the Party’s Central Committee. although it is a separate issue that the Party had by then disintegrated to such an extent that the majority of these trusted individuals simply did not identify completely with their allotted roles. The MSZMP was represented at the Roundtable talks by the second generation. I m e Pozsgay. Accordingly. at least in the beginning. and preferred professional discussion to the political. and the leaders of the most active ministry. they were able to take a short cut to the political or economic elite. educated and pragmatic. as revolutionaries even in “everyday life”. Bozbki-G. the secretariat of the Council of Ministers and that of Minister of State. Karacsony: The Making 050Political Elite 93 university studies. more enlightened. whilst the second generation envied them all. Their social roots were similar to those of the first generation. they had to fulfil tasks similar to those of a political officer in the army. Imre Pozsgay.A. The degeneration of the regime also made their advancement easier. whereas the later generation4’ attached increasing importance to professional expertise as well as to political loyalty. To some extent. To put it simply.

the MSZMP representatives from the public administration sector attending the economic negotiations felt that their presence was superfluous and saw it as a burden: many of them had a low opinion of the degree of preparedness of their opposition negotiating partners and sometimes even looked down on them. The ministerial delegates to the political negotiations. Indirectly. It was characteristic of them in general that they were younger than average and took the pragmatist reform line. In the beginning Rezso Nyers also tried to establish contacts with opposition organizations and showed an interest . many of them young legal professionals. “people’s democratic” or “third way” models of socialism. perceived the negotiations to be the great lifetime opportunity and would retain pleasant memories of them. i. the party apparatus was under-represented in the negotiating delegation of the Party. a third and smaller group was also present within the MSZMP delegation. which was dominated by experts who were also party members emanating from different sectors of public administration. their participation was not compulsory. the secretariats of the Council of Ministers and of the Minister of State. they had to participate in the roundtable talks as a part of their responsibilities. at the economic negotiations it was precisely the opposite: the MSZMP stood closer to the delegation of the EKA than to the representatives of the Third Side. and the most important parties of the EKA.94 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy Paradoxically. Unlike the “volunteers” of the Opposition Roundtable. the delegations from the Third Side were considering various reformed. It was they who emphasized most strongly that they had not been “ordered” to take part in the talks but had “asked” to represent the MSZMP. By way of contrast. Finally. However. Many of them being apolitical. however. Many subsequently objected to having been termed communists and consequently treated by the opposition in the same way as their fellow party delegates. The delegates from the MSZMP to the political and economic negotiations evaluated their own role in the talks somewhat differently and expressed varied views concerning the historical importance of the negotiations. and were directed by their minister to take their seats behind the “MSZMP” sign. The strategy of the MSZMP negotiating delegation was directed above all by two people: Imre Pozsgay and Gyorgy Fejti. consisting of people who were associated with the circle around Imre Pozsgay and Prime Minister Miklos Nkmeth. The difference can be summarized as follows: whilst the MSZMP. they had to represent the government at the talks. whilst those of the radicalliberal opposition stood the farthest. they found such politicization of their expert role rather unpleasant. On economic matters they often contacted the economists who took part in the negotiations as representatives of the League or of the SZDSZ. wanted capitalism in economic matters.e. At the political negotiations the members of the Third Side stood closest to the position of the Communist Party representatives. Both groups consisted of members of the 1968 generation of reform economists: those who had left the Party in time were now facing those who had failed to do so.

In’ his teens. He had acquired extensive experience in negotiating with intellectuals holding critical views. Visiting local party organisations and preparing for the party congress. f a m i l ~ . Kiroly Gr6sz. He was able to speak their language. the Lenin Institute. the largest. At the start of the National Roundtable talks Pozsgay correctly believed that he was able to keep a firm hand on the opposition.A. similarly to the other hard-liners in his party. Karacsony: The Making of a Political Elite 95 in the economic negotiations but his interest evaporated quickly after his election as party president at the end of June. Prime Minister Mikl6s NCmeth was happy that he was able to stay out of the negotiations and did not have to represent the “sinking ship” of the MSZMP. became the director of a Marxism-Leninism Evening University in KecskemCt. he changed roles. however. many of them respected him. From the 1970s he tried to achieve the same at national level: as Minister of Cultural Affairs (1976-82) and as President of the HNF (1982-88). A similar strategy was adopted by the Minister of Justice. By keeping the circle of support which he had built up there. and that he could gain the support of intellectuals by his reform measures. there remained only Pozsgay and Fejti: two characters who were quite the opposite of each other and yet who. after receiving his degree. and some even saw him as “a new Imre Nagy” in the second half of the 1980s. Pozsgay built a nation-wide network of supporters around himself. Bozdki-G. and left the Patriotic People’s Front behind. especially the HNF. the MNP. formal non-party organization with its own daily newspaper. and most of the organizations of the Third Side. ~ the classical channel of upward mobility for sons of simple families. who also accepted the candidacy of the Patriotic People’s Front for the Presidency of the Republic. In May 1988. KBlmin Kulcsir. who became First Secretary after KidBr’s resignation. However. . farmer-craftsman. he became a member of the communist party. A diligent student. at only 18 years of age. the populist-reformist groups within the MSZMP. he became a member of the Politburo of the Party and of the government led by the more conservative KBroly Gr6sz and he contributed to the removal of JBnos KBdBr. Pozsgay was the only one amongst his fellow pupils to refuse to attend religious education and. was present at the opening plenary session but did not appear at the talks afterwards. Organizing the cultural life of a town gave him his first opportunity to recognize that he could penetrate that cultural field which remained dissociated from politics. Consequently. including the MDF. With only slight exaggeration. complemented each other. Pozsgay was born in 1933 in a small village and into a religious. He had concrete ideas about institutional transformation and tried to direct the legal expert delegates of the MSZMP from behind the scenes but stayed out of the negotiations personally. the communist take-over changed these channels completely. After his “political awakening”. that his hinterland was gradually disintegrating. Gr6sz must have felt. one could state that the majority of participants in the National Roundtable talks had been Pozsgay’s proteges. a provincial town. and. at the same time. the BZSBT. he continued his studies at the elite school. he intended to enter the Church.

perhaps. However. seemed more of a gray. However. According to this logic.96 The Roitndtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy Compared to Pozsgay. historians. His opponents explained this by his ambition to become President of the Republic. Fejti was either incapable of grasping the real meaning of democracy or simply did not really want it: he might simply have been willing to risk the success of the democratic transition in order to secure the survival of the MSZMP. Both accepted the concept of a peaceful transition to a democratic. His opponents claimed that. hard-liner and party soldier capable of causing occasional fear. the state party was not only a burden for Pozsgay. then Fejti envisaged it with the state party and Pozsgay without. In April 1989 Pozsgay was not yet willing to take on the role of “the person who would tear the party in two”: he did not support the most radical reformers in the Party in leaving the state party and creating a new. Fejti constantly thought in terms of the existing state party framework and tried to secure the best possible positions for the MSZMP in the process of democratic transition. philosophers and sociologists trying their hand in negotiated politics than in his familiar party apparatus. democraticleft party. Fejti was correct and Pozsgay was incorrect. by this time. perhaps only himself. In this way he assisted in destroying the Party from within. as far as the transformation of the MSZMP is concerned.“4he was justified by history. subsequently. . but his inflexibility prevented him from detaching himself from his original premises.4~If we assume that both of them wanted democracy. that Fejti. who made an orthodox career in the League of Communist Youth and. he became much less loyal to his Party. Fejti reasoned logically and rationally. in the Communist Party proper. after being selected as the MSZMP candidate for President of the Republic. which he himself accepted als0. it does not affect the fact that. Pozsgay perceived the state party as a burden and tried to get rid of it as soon as he could. Gyorgy Fejti. Pozsgay was of the opposite opinion: he was quite willing to sacrifice the Party. since Fejti was a true representative of the Party at the Roundtable talks whilst Pozsgay represented something else. the Technical University graduate. Whatever ambitions Imre Pozsgay nurtured to become President of the Republic with wide-ranging authority. it was a burden for democracy also. It is no wonder. since the survival of the state party and transition to democracy were clearly mutually exclusive. which enabled him to increase his prestige temporarily both in the media and among his negotiating partners from the opposition?2 It is possible that the views of Fejti and Pozsgay did not actually differ so much in substantial questions as the differences in their style and tactics might have suggested. Pozsgay cleverly exploited his positional advantage in his private game against Fejti and the apparatus. felt much less relaxed among writers. a faithful follower of Kiroly Grbsz in the 1980s. Within his own analytical framework. multi-party system and that of free elections. However. However.

Inside the state party. “neither opposition. According to this scenario of finding the best way out of the political crisis. Pozsgay was only popular outside the party whilst Gr6sz controlled the party machine. It was he who visited various unofficial clubs and supported tradition-preserving circles. others were already searching for radical solutions to the political crisis. However. overlapping eras and loose groupings. this was actually a result of the fact that the general dynamic was accompanied by changes in the balance of power within organizations. Although there had been no fundamental changes in the top leadership of the communist party until 1988. The dynamic of the transition affected not only the relations between organizations but also the composition of the groups determining the policies of these organizations. It was he who followed a popular front strategy in his contacts with various socio-cultural groups in order to put his reform ideas into practice. The first phase of the political transformation could be best described by the term reform. To get rid of Khdhr. Pozsgay temporarily joined forces with Kiroly Gr6sz to overthrow KBdBr because he did not enjoy sufficient insider support to carry out his plan alone. Different protagonists. In a certain respect Hungary’s history since the economic reform of 1968 had been one of reform attempts. withdrawn and restarted continuously. that the dynamic of the transition did not leave unchanged how the groups participating in the regime change assessed the situation. circles and groups were brought to the surface by changing concepts such as moderate reformism. the most important figure of the party’s reformist wing. “socialist pluralism”. however. co-optation strategies. Whilst some groups were still engaged in “trial-and-error” politics. “model change”. the political system had remained untouched by these moderate reforms until the middle of the 1980s. nor pro-government” organization. very moderate political changes should be directed by the communist party co-opting technocrats into its ranks without sharing its power with other groups. negotiated political transition or mass mobilization politics of the “let the people decide” type. It is beyond doubt. soon to become the largest. it was he who was present at the birth of the MDF. In several cases. visions of radical reform. defined their political identities and chose their resulting political strategies. Imre Pozsgay. above all. had spent this period building up his contact network outside the trenches of political power. however. Gr6sz would only have been able to maintain his influence among the wider party . which changed with the various phases of the transition. they often ran parallel to one another.A. moderate social movements and initiatives. Karacsony: The Making of a Political Elite 97 The Dynamic of Political Transformation: Institution Building and Changing the Elite Our investigations so far have shown in outline that the dynamic of political transformation at elite level was connected with certain. Although these scenarios can be separated from one another chronologically also (less radical possibilities were followed by concepts expressing the necessity of more fundamental changes). started. the apparatus had to be mobilized. something at which Gr6sz was highly competent. Bozoki-G.

By contrast. it was no longer possible for one of the reformers in the Party to have his patrons withdraw from the opposition. Gradually jettisoning the burden of the party. he could count on support. The logic of co-optation was replaced by the logic of competitive co-operation. their personal ambitions obstructed each other. engaged in a political strategy of co-optation. Although Pozsgay enjoyed more respect outside the Party. in return for the concessions. Thus. bureaucratic. The reformers of the communist party. they tried to bring about a transfer of the political power divided then between them and the Party conservatives to them and their proteges. It was no longer possible to control the MSZMP in the old. If the communists in power wanted to let the opposition participate in solving the crisis.45 However. no longer faced unorganized opposition groups. above all Pozsgay and Nyers. way. they were able to do so only by engaging in negotiations about a fundamental change in the political system. above all. he rose to become would-be president of Hungarian democracy in the making. In principle. By utilizing their existing relations with oppositional organizations. The cracks in the fortifications of power became even more numerous after KBdar’s death. the organizations belonging to Pozsgay’s circle were inclined to accept this compromise. Since it was known already at the beginning of the negotiations that the MSZMP would nominate him for President of the Republic. the MSZMP was no longer its former self: instead of maintaining the Leninist principle of “democratic centralism”. many must have thought that the commencement of the negotiations meant that the situation would develop in accordance with Pozsgay’s political goals. he rightly expected that. . It was exactly his openness and his good relations with reformist party members and semi-opposition circles outside the party which helped Pozsgay in his SUCcessfbl fight against the hard-liner cadres of the party. The scenario of reformist co-optation was finally invalidated by the establishment and consolidation of the Opposition Roundtable in March 1989. In the beginning. among the &pi opposition gathering around the MDF. but a single organization uniting all oppositional groups on a consensual principle. In an increasingly open and loose dictatorship. it came as no surprise that the MDF was the first opposition organization to protest against the initiative of the New March Front to create a national committee comprising all opposition parties. however. The MSZMP. Pozsgay had no scruples about giving concessions to an opposition working on the dethronement of the state party: he could kill two birds with the one stone. its members demanded that contacts with society be strengthened. his supporters in the EKA would not make difficulties about bringing forward the elections for the Presidency. easily played off against one another. Indeed.98 The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy f membership if he had been able to isolate them from the rest of society. but his influence outside it lay only in the narrow circle of reformist economists and reform communist intellectuals. which maintained its domination of official politics despite its inner divisions. in order to go beyond reforms to achieve a change of the political model. at the same time. Nyers was more widely accepted in the party than Pozsgay.

It was much more difficult for the parties of the radical opposition to develop an efficient. By the summer of 1989. Antall accomplished the same by making it impossible for others to bypass him and his party: they became. The idea of co-operation understood as a model change to “socialist pluralism” was replaced by the idea of regime change. This strategy worked as long as wide fronts and “loose bonds” were needed: in the early phase of political change. he occupied a central position between the reformers of the MSZMP and the radical democrats of the Opposition Roundtable. centrist network since their politics were based on the very idea that they should dictate rather than follow the changes. Pozsgay failed to organize these groups around himself and tried to maintain his circle of sympathizers through his personal popularity and a sort of reformist-populist manner of speech. and clearly differed from party jargon. In fact.A. The political climate might have started to change for the worse when. Karcicsony: The Making of a Political Elite 99 However. it became clear that “the emperor had no clothes” since the DMM was unable to play any significant role in the matter of emerging party pluralism in 1989. coined first by the SZDSZ. Antall rose to the leadership of the moderate Right during the roundtable talks. overlapping. at the reform assembly in Kecskern& in April 1989. Antall had already been active in 1988 but. however. the old leaders of historical parties (the FKGP. If Pozsgay had been elected President. He suffered his first defeat exactly when he tried to formalize and institutionalize these informal. He negotiated with Pozsgay but remained loyal to the Opposition Roundtable. above all. having just recovered from his fight for survival. he refused to take on the role of “the person who would tear the party in two”. Whilst Pozsgay spent the long years from 1985 to 1988 developing his network of contacts according to the strategy of cooptation. They were opposed to the “peace propaganda” of the MSZMP and endeavored to be always one step ahead of the changing political climate. his circles were perhaps the widest and the most effective in the decisive months of 1989. As soon as the Movement came into being. His network of contacts included. it remained a circle of sympathizers which would be swept away by political transformation. step by step. the most important political force during the negotiations (Table 2). he had initially belonged to the most moderate opposition. he controlled and occasionally “disciplined” its members!‘ By having become the leader of the moderate opposition. democracy and socialism. during the Gorbachev glasnost. Antall was an anticommunist by principle but a very cautious and tactical politician in practice. similar to those founded later by Walesa in Poland or Yeltsin in Russia. As it was. the DMM would have potentially become “the presidential party”. Thanks to his central position and authority. Bozdki-G. groups in the summer of 1989 in the framework of the Movement for a Democratic Hungary (DMM). which was made up of elements of the ideas of nation. Viktor Orbhn found it very difficult in the beginning to have himself accepted in the restricted atmosphere of the tri- . As we have seen. towards democratic and strictly competitive politics. KDNP) and some prominent figures in the MDF and the BZSBT. Pozsgay’s network of friends and sympathizers was gradually replaced by the circles around J6zsef Antall.

1989. Although Orban was supported by the enthusiastic membership of Fidesz. Although they did not want to jeopardize the achievements of the National Roundtable negotiations. they were not willing to accept compromises on several issues which were considered acceptable by the moderate opposition. the MNP or the KDNP. They found sympathizers in the more liberal circles of the recently freed press and maintained a close alliance with the Democratic League of Independent Trade Unions. Dominant Political Elite Networks during the Process of Transition Time 1987-1988 1988-1 989 1989 Political Goal reform model change regime change Method co-optation co-operation competition Dominant Elite Circle surrounding Gr6sz surrounding Pozsgay surrounding Antall This handicap of the radical-liberal Free Democrats and Young Democrats might have contributed to the fact that. but who. However. however. belonged to the newcomers within his party’s elite. like Antall. when these parties found themselves in a minority concerning the issues left unresolved at the negotiating table in September 1989 (in particular on the issue of bringing forward the date of the election of a President of the Republic). they had not had a real opportunity to develop an extensive hinterland. in contrast to the more asymmetrical relations between the MDF and the BZSBT. did not have supporters in other parties. This was why. coming from the democratic opposition. unlike Antall. the SZDSZ was distinguished above all by Pkter Tolgyessy. The leadership of the SZDSZ. Table 2. they tried to break out by appealing to society. emphasizing that the success of a transition is most certain when the center of the negotiations is occupied by reformers of the decay- . who. making use of a new legal institution introduced as a result of the negotiations. 1989 justified their e n d e a ~ o r sThe relative weakness of SZDSZ and Fidesz in building networks .~~ at the elite level was successfully compensated by a direct appeal to the people to achieve more radical. were similarly loyal and accustomed to working together. The decision of the people at the referendum on November 26th.100 The Roirndtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy partite negotiations since his speech on June 16th. they called for a referendum on the issues on which no consensus had been reached at the negotiating table. uncompromising methods of change. had earned him the reputation of being an “extreme” radical. Conclusion The literature of democratic transitions usually draws a distinction between moderate and radical opposition. At the roundtable talks. this membership was taken more seriously by the police than by the negotiating partners. The relationship between the SZDSZ and Fidesz was a “coordinate” one. They felt that they had nothing to lose.

there existed three such: the ultra-moderate. Karacsony: The Making o a Poliiical Elite f 101 ing regime and moderate forces of the rising o p p ~ s i t i o nBased mainly on Latin .~~ American examples. historic party. liberal. perhaps. historic party. the definition of the content of political change was itself subject to continuous change: the scenarios of reformist co-optation. Secondly. however. to resolve the issues left open at the negotiating table by seeking direct support from society. new party. covenanted model change and negotiated regime change existed simultaneously. cultural-political association center-right. who made several tactical proposals themselves. The supporters of the third standpoint feared that tactical concessions might provide their opponents with an opportunity to turn these into strategic advantages and so. the moderate and the self-restraining radical. almost parallel to one another. agrarian-traditionalist new trade union. The first standpoint was inclined to make strategic. led by urban intellectuals center-left. Finally. historic party. in Hungary. former dissidents centrist. new party. the moderate opposition standpoint. Opposition Parties and Their Position at the National Roundtable Talks Position towards the Transition Ultra-moderates Organization Characteristics Moderates Self-restraining Radicals BZSBT KDNP h4NP MDF FKGP FSZDL MSZDP SZDSZ Fidesz center-right. Bozdki-G. historic party. the supporters of the third standpoint. the ultra-moderate standpoint. this approach warns transitional countries against allowing radicalizing opposition forces to take up a too prominent position since it is of the opinion that radical demands may endanger the success of the transition. As far as differences in opposition behavior are concerned. ideologically mixed center-right. new party. our findings so far seem to support the observation of Schiemann?’ that. young professionals . Table 3. liberal. watched the tactical concessions initiated by the circles of the moderate opposition with suspicion (Table 3). however. representatives of which would have never abandoned the idea of free elections but would have shown themselves ready to accept a temporary agreement of the Polish type in order to secure the achievement of this goal. confessional center-left. as restrained as the Polish pact on “semi-free” elections. These we would define in the following way. In Hungary. never questioned the achievements of the negotiations or wanted to endanger their codification. internally divided centrist. the second tactical concessions.A. Firstly. They tried. representatives o f which might have imagined a model change which would have been. populist third way centrist. unlike the radicals of Latin America. the self-restraining radical opposition standpoint whose supporters.

In the elections of 1990 the people were free to decide the future of their country. differences. To the biography of the leaders of the FKGP between 194449. Lhszld S6lyom and Gyorgy Szabad succeeded in neutralizing the groups of “ultra-moderates” and in driving them into the path of political transformation. Eletrajzi lexikon. [The Script of the Regime Change: Roundtable Talks of 1989. kotet. See: Ralf Dahrendorf: Reflections on the Revolution in Europe.1 Budapest: Willy Brandt Alapitvby. Jhnos Kis and Viktor Orbin. ErzsCbet Ripp and Zolthn Ripp (eds. the moderate opposition led by Jdzsef Antall. 2. 81 Budapest: Uj Mandatum. 1990. 1997. BCla RCvksz. the reformers of the MSZMP were increasingly interested in striking a deal with the opposition and mobilized their contacts in this direction. as time progressed. [The Roundabout Revolves Again: Social Democrats 1989-94. Vol. It was as a result of all of the factors mentioned above. see: Istvhn Vida and Vince Voros: A Fiiggetlen Kisgazdaphrt kdpviseloi 1944-49. We have made use of the very subjective memoirs of LBsz16 Mbkus: Forog a hinta: Szocdemek 1989-1994. it was important that the success of the referendum initiated by the radicals led by Pkter Tolgyessy. 4 Korosenyi Andras: “The Revival of the Past or New Beginning? The Nature of Post-Communist Politics” in Andrhs Bozbki. enabled them to liberate the moderate opposition from their agreement. not strategic.. (Translated by KLiroi‘y Mike) Notes 1 Dahrendorf contrasts periods of constitutional politics with periods of normal politics. 1990. No. A Biographical Encyclopedia. For a more detailed list. 5 KBroly Ravasz: “A Fuggetlen Kisgazdaphrt Ljjjaalakitasa 1988-89 fordulojhn” [The Re-establishment of the Independent Smallholders’ Party at the Turn of 1988-891 M2iltunk. see for example: Anna Richter: Ellenzkki Kerekasztol . an agreement which could have led to a too-early division of power between the opposition and the crucial groups of the old regime before the first democratic elections. Firstly. which would have had to be circumnavigated by future electors. 57. Marta Elbert. In this way. it was decisive that.): A rendszervriltds forgat(jkijnyve: kerekasztal-trirgvaldsok1989-ben.): Post Communist Transition:Emerging Pluralisin in Hungary. 1990. Andrhs KorosCnyi and George Schopflin (eds. 2. 2 See the biographies of the key participants in this book. 1 1 1-131. [Portraits and Biographies] in Andras Bozoki. Vol. Andras Bozoki: “Hungary’s Road to Systemic Change: The Opposition Roundtable” East European Politics and Societies. Secondly.276-308. see MArta Elbert and Andras Bozoki: Portrdk ds dletrajzok. 8. Laszl6 Bruszt: “Negotiated Revolution in Hungary” Social Research. .] Budapest: ELTE Szos ciologiai C Szocialpolitikai IntCzet. in which they could count on the support of the “selfrestraining radicals”. that the Roundtable talks did not leave a political minefield behind. 1999. 3 For former studies on the Opposition Roundtable (EKA). Spring 1993. Martin’s Press. 1999. 1992. radicals and moderates co-operated in transforming the political fields0 and were divided by tactical. Thirdly. [Opposition Roundtable-Portrait Sketches] Budapest: &let. [Parliamentary representatives of the Independent Smallholders’ Party 1944-49. No. Melinda Kalmir. 7. Vol.102 The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f The success of the regime change in Hungary was a fortunate result of several factors coinciding. 1. New York: St.porrrdvrislatok. 6 The history of the reestablishment of the MSZDP is poorly documented. 1991. London: Pinter. London: Chatto & Windus.

Janusz Ziolkowski: “The Roots. 1992.): Magyarorszhgpolitikai bvkonyve. A Monography. The latter was best represented by the overwhelming victory of the Solidarity movement in 1989. Karacsony: The Making of a Political Elite 103 7 The latter included. and the director of the Hungarian Soros Foundation. 1988-91. pp. 1 1 See. 1987. 1999. 9 PCter Veres was a former president of the National Peasants’ Party. Bozdki-G. 1995. Berkeley: University of California Press. It was a result of this action that. [Political Yearbook of Hungary. op. 16 In Poland. 10 See more about this in: Zsolt Enyedi: Politika U kereszt jegytben. Branches and Blossoms of Solidarnosc” in Gwyn Prins (ed.1 Budapest: Fidesz. 23 The term “tribe” was first used by for the developing opposition groups by G.): Tisztu lrppal: A Fidesz a magyarpolitikhban. M. pp. political elite and the professional teams around them. however. an opposition politician won a seat in Parliament for the first time in 42 years. 13 This was the idea that was most reminiscent of the example of the Catholic mass parties at the end of the 19th century. 1944. 18 A classical critical analysis of the social consequences of the endeavour for legitimacy (the increasing party membership of intellectuals) is to be found in: George [Gyorgy] Konrhd and Ivhn Szeltnyi: The Intellectuals on the Road to Class Power. 1979.272-278. 12 Aron Mhrton was Bishop of GyulafehCrvhr (1938-80) and a leading figure of the Hungarians in Romania. 1999.39-62. Mikl6s Vhshrhelyi. Monogrhjia. Charged with anti-Nazi activities. 1990. 1998. 21 For more details. The Fidesz in Hungarian politics.] Budapest: T-Twins. 1989. he also participated in the politics of the FKGP. [The Roads Depart: Power and the Intellectuals after State Socialism] Budapest: Pesti Szalon. in the by-elections in the summer of 1989. 14 Its classical formulation is to be found in the article “A New Evolutionism” written by Adam Michnik in 1976. See. Jovanovich. Some raised the question whether someone with a reputation for being radical rather than ready for compromise should be allowed to participate in the sessions of the working committee 1/1 which dealt with constitutional issues. [With a clean slate. The Hungarian roundtable talks in 1989 already served as an arena for the emergence of the new. which considered the social integration of their members rather than their political representation as their primary task. 1988-91. [The Hungarian Democratic Opposition. 1996. the historian Jeno Szucs. Tamhs: “Szint vallani” [Showing One’s True Colours] Hitel.1 Budapest: DKMKA. rather than as a successful “umbrella organisation” for the civic society triumphing over the party state. 17 Ervin Csimadia: A magyar demokratikirs ellenztk.): Spring in Winter: The 1989 Revolutions. the Roundtable talks resulted in victory for the opposition’s strategy based on civic society. [An Almanach of the Hungarian Populist Movement] Budapest: Dehk. 19 See the essay ErzsCbet Szalai: “Szereppr6ba” [Rehearsal of Roles] in her Utelhgazhs: hatalonr ts krtelrniskg az allamszocializmus trtrin.A. for instance. they led to the success of a new stage: the strategic unification of the groups of the opposition elite. 8 About the careers of the leaders of the National Peasants’ Party see: Benko PCter: A magyar ntpi mozgalom almanachja. see: Andrhs Boz6ki: “A polghri radikhlis korminy” [The civic-radical government] in Shndor Kurthn et al. (eds. Enyedi. for example. Budapest: Osiris. Michnik: Letters from Prison and Other Essays. he was executed in December. In A. New York: Harcourt. 13545. In Hungary. pluralist. 1968-88. cit. See: Andrhs Boz6ki (ed. 20 Endre Bajcsy-Zsilinszky was a national-radical politician who was also associated with the circle of nkpi writers. 130-133. 1994. the sociologist Elemtr Hankiss. 1998. March. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Brace. 22 Viktor Orb& himself was one of the few people disputed within the EKA. Later on. 1968-88. [Politics in the Sign of the Cross]. 15 One of the most successful actions of the early Fidesz concerned the defeat of especially unpopular communist MPs. .

1998.1 Budapest: Kossuth. and it was only taken back by Pozsgay in the second half of August. Pdter Medgyessy and others. pp. (eds. He died in July.” 34 Sindor Rkvksz. 1987. Monogrufia. 3 1 Tarsodulmi Szerzodks. 1988. 30 Zolt6n Birb: Sajd tit. See also: Fanny Havas et al. Laszlo Kovics. November 14. negotiated transition. see: Shndor Agbcs and Endre Medvigy (eds. pp. Lakitelek. 37 In such very important questions as the Act on the Constitutional Court or the introduction of the institution of “ombudsman”. [The Chances of Hungarians. 35 Ervin Csizmadia: A magyar demokratikzis ellenzkk. Imre Pozsgay saw to it that the Lakitelek Proclamation was made public. Vol. 25 About the process of the establishment of parties. [ 1989: A Political Career in the Party State and in the Regime Change] Budapest: Piiski. [The Prime Minister] Budapest: Osiris. During his absence. Lajos Czinege. The reason behind this might have been that they preferred to have these people out of the country. 28 See more about this in: Andrhs Boz6ki: “Vazlat hirom populizmusr61: Az Egyesult Allamok. the Ministry of the Interior allowed many of them to obtain passports so that they could make use of their scholarships abroad or accept invitations from foreign universities. which he had said during the restoration after the 1956 Revolution: “I will sink down and survive them. and when one of them did. first secretary of the Communist Party. he was often not allowed to leave the country after his return from abroad. Lakitelek. however. See Magyar Nenizet. He smuggled its text into an interview with him in the official newspaper of the HNF. 3-9. 1993 and Zoltln Acs: Kizurt apart. 3. September 1993.): A magyarsdg esklvei. 1991. however. 1989. Argentina Cs Magyarorszlg” [A Sketch on Three Cases of Populism: the United States. Ferenc FehCr mentioned Antall’s legendary bon mot. See also: Jozsef Debreczeni: A miniszterelnok.): Besztlo Osszkiau‘us [The Complete Issues of the Beszkla”]. ZoltAn Kom6csin and others. 26 See the Founding Charter of the MDF. 199 1. Hitel. 1987. receive a passport. at which the establishment of the MDF was decided. both of them were present at most of the intermediate level . 3.1 Budapest: Piiski. 38 Janos Kadlr. November 1988. and the documented talks given at this meeting. After his return. it seemed that he was not urging a quick conclusion to the negotiations. 33 In a retrospective article. Magyar Nemzet. In 1988. 1995. [Jozsef Antall from a Distance] Budapest: Sik. [The Establishment of the Multi-Party System in Hungary. however. he did his best to accelerate the pace of the negotiations. 1987. 1995. Kiroly NCmeth. the leadership of the MSZMP delegation was taken over by Fejti. 42 As Pozsgay went on holiday in July 1989.104 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f 24 For the list of the participants in the Lakitelek meeting of intellectuals. [Social Contract] A special issue of the illegal periodical Beszdo. [A Withered Revolution] Budapest: Puski. Llsz16: “Alapit6 atyik” [Founding Fathers] Kritika. Politikai karrier a pcirtcillamban b a rendszewdtasban. Pozsgay stayed away because he wanted to show to his fellow party members and the opposition parties that they would be unable to reach a consensus and that negotiations would slow down without him. 40 Represented by Gyula Horn. 41 Imre Pozsgay: 1989. in November 1987. 19851991. No. He thus wanted to demonstrate that he was the only person who could guarantee the success of a peaceful. see: Zolth Birb: Elhewadt forrudalom. 36 Members of the democratic opposition were denied passports for a long time. 1985-91. 29 For details. exceptionally. [The Party Expelled Me] Budapest: Primo. Mikl6s NCmeth. 27 See more about them in: Lengyel. 3. 50-5 I. pp. 1988. [The Hungarian Democratic Opposition. 39 Represented by Kadhr himself. 1993. Vol. Argentina and Hungary] Politikatudoniunyi Szemle. 7-39. 1987. Antall Jbzsef thvolrbl. A Monography] Budapest: T-Twins. 1994. ruled the country between 1956 and 1988. 32 As president of the HNF. [Own Way] Budapest: Piiski.): A tobbpartrendszer kialakukisa Magyarorszdgon. see Ervin Csizmadia: “Utak a phrtosodhshoz: az MDF es az SZDSZ megszervezodbe” [Roads to a Multiparty System: The MDF and the SZDSZ in the Making] in: Mihaly Bihari (ed. In September. 33-69.

Bozbki and John Ishiyama (eds. 1999. Adam Przeworski: Democracy und tl7e Market.E. 1995. in September. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 43 Gyorgy Fejti opposed the withdrawal of the MSZMP from the work-place and the demand that. Barnabas Racz: “Left Politics in Post-Communist Hungary” in Charles Bukowski and B. Vol. By this time. sociologist ElemCr Hankiss gave a lecture concerning his ideas of an emerging great social coalition. See their book. 47 On the referendum of November 1989. 44 On the history of the Hungarian Communist Party’s successor. he disapproved of signing the September 18 agreement without settling the open questions. it was Fejti for whom it was less important to demonstrate results and he even left. during the most sensitive phase of the talks. Schiemann: Risk. and Regime Change. It was he. “evangelical socialism”. as part of the democratic transition. In: Istvhn Lazhr (ed. MhzsBk.. Philippe Schmitter and Laurence Whitehead (eds. 1991. He was of the opinion that the MSZMP should not sign anything before an agreement was reached since an early compromise would restrict the future negotiating position of the Party.: M. who convinced Tibor Fiizessy (KDNP) that the attempts to maintain the existing practice of state socialism in Hungary would be very hard to justify by referring to the principle of a Christian. NY. 49 See in detail. for example. Bozdki-G. Karacsonv: The Making of a Political Elite 105 sessions: they watched each other and had their own people report to them separately. Racz (eds. PhD dissertation.” Party Politics. see Adam Masat’s chapter in this book.): The Return of the Left in Post-Communist States: Current Trends and Fictirre Perspectives. managers of large enterprises and new entrepreneurs on the other. was. warmly welcomed as a political goal.): Mirciwi Front [New March Front] Budapest. the state party should account for its property. temporarily. This grand coalition between reformers of the party on the one hand. Radicals. the Hungarian Socialist Party in the 1990s. Armonk. . 46 It happened several times that Antall tacthlly reminded representatives of different historical parties that they were sitting at an Opposition Roundtable and not among the reformers of the party state.): Commzrnist Strccessor Parties in Central and Eastern Europe: Reform or Transmirtation?.): Transitions from Authoritarian Rzrle. established with the aid of Rezs6 Nyers. 4 Vols. He wished to discuss these controversial questions as part of a “package”. 1989. 48 See for instance. John W. Sharpe (forthcoming) 45 In a public event organised by the New March Front. 491-514. MA.. SO The notion of “transformation of the political field” has been used by David Stark and Laszlb Bruszt to describe transitions.: Edward Elgar. Guillermo 0’ Donnell. 59-93 . for example. 1.A. see Attila Agh: “The Partial Consolidation of East Central European Parties: The Case of the Hungarian Socialist Party. 1998. 1986. Postsocialist Pafltways. Northampton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. it was finally Pozsgay who tried to hasten the agreement under the pressure of the approaching party congress. 1999. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.. New York: Columbia University. Andras Bozbki: “ The Hungarian Socialists: Technocratic Modernizationism or New Social Democracy?” in A. Thus. and state bureaucrats.

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by the late 1990s. on the regional context.-though this matter will not be discussed in this paper. key accomplishments and the institutional outcomes of the roundtable process and subsequent political agreements of 1989-1990. Although the Agreement was subsequently amended by political pacts. . unwritten understandings. Depending on one’s perspective. the National Roundtable Agreement. the essential elements of the new institutional architecture were in place before the formal launching of parliamentary democracy in May 1990.2 that this model is neither “Eastern” nor “Western” but a late 20th/early 2 1st century and still-evolving Hz/nguriun model. and in some ways sui generis political model. national political dynamics. unknown to the elite negotiators and pactmakers of 1989-1 990. yet complex. although intended as improvized solutions to current policy dilemmas have. regional East Central European roundtable scenarios.’ Thirdly. become core elements of the nation’s new political architecture. and free parliamentary elections. process. and several political and institutional aspects of the Hungarian National Roundtable process. It took roughly ten months for the outgoing and incoming political elites to deliver the packaged product. that the substantive legal and institutional products of these founding events. THE INSTITUTION-BUILDING PROCESS Institution Building in Hungary: Analytical Issues and Constitutional Models. and personal expectations laid the foundations of a new. the period of gestation could be seen either as long as the history of the nation’s centuries-old struggle for freedom and independence. from the vantage point of the “historical institutional” approach to the study of political change and institution-building. Secondly. the long-term outcome of their agreements. 1989-90 Rudolf L.2. This objective is justified by three propositions: Firstly. or as less than a year (June 1989-April 1990). The following discussion will be divided into seven sections and will discuss related themes of analytical considerations. Tlikks Introduction The birth of Hungary’s new democracy was a peaceful. that. a revised constitution. The purpose of this chapter is to rethink and reflect.

“Prior to politics. .”‘ .. especially provisions for the separation of public and civil spheres by way of judicial review. As will be shown below. the structuration and hierarchy of political institutions. social.” particularly electoral laws and rules governing parliamentary procedures. the division of power among branches of government. All of these components. It is also fundamentally a matter of morals. informal rules.”6 Matters which come under the rubric of institutions include normative guideposts. legal safeguards and new institutions. last but not least. built-in homeostatic devices. and accepted terms of public discourse in various political contexts. Informal rules are parts of pre-institutional norms.” or over time. He submits that “political engineering. [Tlhey structure incentives in human exchanges.” He concludes that “it is the non-constitutional rules and practices that matter. [Without] such consensus. and legitimating ideas. is not just the matter of structures. that is. of conditioned habits. the “rules of the political game. in an “evolutionary” context. restricting it.” To this he adds a crucial caveat: “. According to Thelen and Steinmo. enveloping it. and of reciprocitie~. He submits that “institutions are the humanly devised constraints that shape human interaction. for the protection of the citizens’ constitutionally guaranteed basic rights. ..^ Let us specify the terms of the argument. and procedures that structure conduct Douglas North offers a more comprehensive perspective on the matter. that is.”7 To come to the intended point. and. Or. Institutional change shapes the way societies evolve through time and hence is the key to understanding historical change.108 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Himngarian Democracy Institutions: Rules. North reminds us that informal rules constitute unwritten guidelines which constrain the behaviour of public actors in accordance with cultural traditions. such as a constitution.” The main components of inquiry are “formal organizations. . Customs. public actors. historical institutionalism is “an attempt to illuminate how political struggles are modified by the institutional setting in which [they] take place. I chose the latter approach for the analysis of institutional changes in 1989-1 990 in Hungary. as Dahl asserts. particularly the constitution. Dahl’s cautionary insights should be amended by Rockman’s caveats. no democratic system would long survive the endless irritations and frustrations of elections and party politics. elite customs.even discontinuous changes (such as revolution and conquest) are never completely discontinuous [and] are the results of embeddedness of informal constraints in societies. or economic. beneath it. whether political. may be studied either in a time-specific. the notion of legal continuity-itself a unique and defining aspect of the Hungarian transition3-can be a useful analytical device with which to explain linkages between political behavior and institutional outcome^.. unlike physical engineering. such as that of Ombudsman and other parliamentary watchdogs.”~ . and Actors From the perspective of a historical institutionalist approach to the study of political change and interaction among institutions. is the underlying consensus on policy. conditioning it. in a “standstill.

of a mass democracy of politically fully empowered citizens. an amalgam of political theatre (the televised opening and .” in this case on an institutional artifact. there were two groups of political. record of previous instrumental-co-operative experience.” As Offe explains. pragmatism and idealism. the National Roundtable negotiations of June-September.’ Informal rules not only set consensual boundaries for appropriate personal conduct and collective behavior but. with the benefit of in-built ambiguities. On the face of it. and so on) and their a priori commitment to an elite-brokered consensual outcome.” In any event. common to both elites were their shared ignorance of and their lack of cultural empathy for the “spirit. 1989. and cultural elites committed to the principle of peaceful systemic transformation through negotiation. One is a mixture of ideological passions and the objective of interest maximization. social. In the summer of 1989 members of each side were. On the one hand.”1° The issue of the Hungarian institution builders’ pre-existing values and morals poses a set of analytical imponderables. Tokks:Institution Building in Hungary 109 From the foregoing it might be argued that informal rules are generally derived from two-a “maximalist” and a “minimalist”-components. On the other hand. the other is cost-benefit-conscious behavior and the pursuit. the capacity of informal rules to yield desired outcomes in a negotiating environment is greatly enhanced-as it was in Hungary’s case in 1989-1 990-by the actors’ mutually compatible social and occupational status (shared educational background. the preservation of their elite status-on “public objects. both sides’ elite status had been derived from their respective positions in the old regime’s nomenclature hierarchy. in a sense. tends to impose rules on overt action in the public arena. “[Wlhat the Polish and Hungarian cases seem to demonstrate is the importance of pre-existing moral and cultural capital as a source of social integration and the most promising starting point of a bottom-up process of institution building. As will be shown below.” however defined. This common predicament helped to obliterate moral and ethical distinctions between socialist internationalism and Hungarian patriotism. Be that as it may. In any case.Rudolf L. may be perceived as a multi-player co-operative game. ruthless opportunism and naive sincerity. in Lasswell’s sense all of them were “political men” intent on “displacing and rationalizing” their “private motives”-most prominently. and hence a clean slate for all concerned. “fellow travelers” on the road to Damascus and the Promised Land of parliamentary democracy.I2 Procedures are the “way things are done”-yet again with allowances for the cuItural context. What was missing in Hungary was a kind of “divine intervention” providing for catharsis and common absolution. also provide for flexibility in the application of written rules. which. in the sense of “rational choice” theory. ascribed class position. of “feasible” outcomes. neither the incumbents nor the “insurgents” had a proper mandate from the public whose interests they claimed to represent. mainly through custom and precedent. Other factors promoting consensus among negotiators are shared “moral infrastructure and normative meaning” with respect to “national histories and aspirations. the National Roundtable.

shifts of macroeconomic indicators. Both seemed. Longitudinal changes in social stratification. He submits that “at the core of the new theorizing lies the claim that institutions reconcile rationality on the part of the individual with rationality on the part of the society” and adds that “institutions are means to resolve collective dilemmas. Although the stakes were extremely high-the nation’s political destiny was on the table-procedural courtesies. to be feasible paths.110 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy closing sessions).” would have walked out well before the conclusion of the National Roundtable’s deliberations. These. such as the capacity of the regional hegemon to keep the political regime in power and its institutions unchanged. In short. were powerful constraints on the scope of the roundtable agenda. Hungary was still a member of the Warsaw Treaty Organization.”’4 If by “individual rationality” we understand the negotiators’ shared ambition to obtain rational. especially adverse. let us consider Robert Bates’s justification of the same. the roundtable negotiations began as an open-ended process which could have resulted in either a cosmetic facelift or in drastic and deeply intrusive surgery for “whole body” reconstruction. forces. To summarize the discussion on institution-centered analysis. rapid. declining performance in political guidance. we may have a useful analytical vehicle with which to assess the roundtable process and its long-term impact on Hungarian politics. and by “societal rationality” the public’s aspirations for social peace and stability after the free elections of 1990. moot-court-type adversarial confrontations of seemingly irreconcilable policy positions.” the outgoing regime’s “social partners. such as the rotation of negotiators from the three sides’ in the chair and tripartite venues for the reconciliation of interests-were strictly 0b~erved. the “third side. optimal yet feasible results for the values and interests they spoke for. and of Comecon. . expert views among fellow academics. unresolved leadership conflicts and the erosion of legitimating ideological paradigms are factors with the capacity to challenge the institutional status quo ante and modify the behavior of political actors. were it not for these procedures. the Berlin Wall was still there-and so were two neo-Stalinist dictatorships on the northern and southern borders of Hungary. de facto occupation. and an unstructured free-for-all in the traditions of an intelligentsia debating society. as augmented by the presence of Soviet. The context is dynamic and is subject to change-as are institutions which are both the subject and object of endogenous and exogenous change. behind-closed-doors. Matters are further confounded when the stability of domestic institutions is contingent on exogenous factors. a university seminar with the polite exchange of learned. Whereas the outcome of the Polish National Roundtable augured well for the prospects of similar discussions in Hungary. 1989. in June. Although the Cold War was winding down in 1989.l~ Indeed. and security environments. and was bound by innumerable formal and informal political commitments to the USSR for the preservation of the institutional status quo ante. that is. legal. Institutions are also interactive components of the national and international socio-economic.

In one way or another. with it. as an overriding political priority. The two sides’ ex ante consensus also included notions of electoral reform and enhanced legal autonomy for economic actors within the state as well as in the emerging private sector.” that is. there was. traditionally taboo. measures such as the empowerment of the ruling party’s transmission belt-type social organizations for the administration of the regime’s social-welfare policies. T o k b : Institution Building in Hungary 111 Institutional Change: Policy Precedents and Alternative Blueprints The initial agenda of the Hungarian National Roundtable called for incremental changes to improve and modernize the performance of existing political institutions by adding new elements to the incumbent state administrative elites’ previously implemented and newly conceived standby plans for institutional reform. from pro-reform party and state elites. such as the state’s collective presidency. although originating from opposite ends of the regime’s power structure and differing in terms of scope.” that is. and from the “insurgents.16 Substantive commonalities included a shared desire for drastic change in the modus operandi of dysfunctional Soviet-style institutions. Demands for change came from both the “incumbents. The answer to this. hitherto powerless. Moreover. and its publicly unaccountable central and local bureaucracy. a sense of urgency to modernize and enhance the rule-making competency of the semi-dormant Parliament. within-system changes.RudolfL. elite groups and citizens. The latter was seen as a vastly underutilized institutional asset for the effecting of overdue systemic changes.” Controlled. its own long-term survival. emphasis. particularly among legal scholars. Pro-reform incumbent and insurgent agendas for institutional change. By placing-and having the political courage to keep-the notion of “reforms” on the public agenda. semi-dissident and dissident intellectuals of socialist and liberal democratic persuasion. the regime sought to preserve the option of “self-renewal” and. Previous institutional reforms had been carried out to facilitate the “selling” of the regime’s economic reforms to critical elite groups and the skeptical public. its politicized judiciary. subject emerged-in an astonishingly nonchalant yet typically pragmatic Hungarian fashion-from the post-KBdBr regime’s consent . the granting of operative autonomy to central and local state agencies to address citizens’ concerns. were compatible components of a yet-to-emerge post-socialist institutional architecture. and the broadening of the scope of public participation by way of multi-candidate elections-such as those held in 1985-were prophylactic measures and at the same time conciliatory gestures toward the. gave rise to elite demands for a more thoroughgoing institutional overhaul. the process of institutional reform gained new momentum and opened the gates for drastic innovation of all kinds. from the critical. and proposed timetable of implementation. With the peaceful “leveraged buyout”-type of removal of JBnos KadBr from the leadership in May 1988.] The issue of political representation of group and individual interests touched on the very essence of the institutional logic of the one-party state. though helpful for keeping the public demobilized.

legalistic. if given the opportunity. It included his and her attachment to the emancipatory and nominally egalitarian ethos of socialism. from all actors’ implicit confidence in the reformability of the system. have promptly embraced Westernstyle liberal democracy. market economy. too. they were central components of the “essential Left” with a profound sense of ambivalence toward capitalism and the unenlightened masses-together with a history of a love-hate relationship with the powers-that-be. and the concomitant disinclination to shoulder the burden of duty o€ the “rights and duties” matrix of democratic citizenship.” The insurgents’ ex ante consensus on necessary changes has been characterized by East European and Western analysts as “self-limiting” with respect to the means for the achievement of the desired political objectives. and. and.112 The Roirndtable Talks of1989: The Genesis o HungarianDemocracy f to the formation of “social organizations” in the summer of 1988. and the Hungarian incumbents sought to come to terms with the new political realities of 1989. that government had ready-made draft bills for a unicameral Parliament? and for “associations” (including political). social justice. As East European intellectuals on both sides of the political fence. the regime’s toleration of unauthorized party formation was consolidated in February 1989 into an official endorsement of “political pluralism” in Hungary. political preferences. pursuant to the logic of deeply internalized. In my view. in the case of economic policy proposals. at best pre-democratic. As members of an economically privileged. technocratic language of interest articulation by both sides. In early 1989 “midcourse” correction by way of cosmetic and/or drastic institutional retro-fitting was a feasible option for all concerned. the Hungarian insurgents’ “self-limitation” involved not only the means but the ends also. elite. the term. . Thus. by the mid-80’s de facto. but politically powerless. By that time. immunity of elite actors from imprisonment for their political beliefs. National Roundtables : Regional Scenarios The unfolding of political precedents and key events leading up to the commencement of National Roundtable negotiations in Hungary were parts of a regional Central European context of incumbent and insurgent elite efforts to find national solutions to seemingly intractable policy problems in the era of a disoriented regional hegemon under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev. particularly the implication that the regime’s “democratic” and reform socialist critics would. regionally unique aspect of the Hungarian incumbent-insurgent discourse on institutional change was the pragmatic. At issue is the way in which the Polish. and mass democracy is substantially flawed. the Czechoslovak. Thanks to the Communist Party’s reform elites and to the courageous initiatives of resurgent “historic” and new political parties. in part. shared the mindset of the non-elite homo Kcidcirictrs. state redistribution.I9 A prominent. as well as a completed draft of a drastically revised constitution. The businesslike tone of such dialogues stemmed in part from the. they. petty bourgeois cultural habits and.

and yet it presided over a conservative government bureaucracy. i. only the political aspects. over the vast majority of the religiously observant and deeply nationalist citizens. that is. including that of the electoral system. At the end of the day. were amenable to immediate resolution. What took place in Warsaw between February and early April 1989 was a path-breaking event which came to serve as a precedent for other national roundtables over the next twelve months.” With two legislative chambers and four fellow-traveler “opposition” parties already in place. as well as its immense moral influence. Firstly.e. the regime-supervised entry of “another party” seemed to be an acceptable risk to the beleaguered incumbents. a well-entrenched network of official trade unions. Much of this was made possible by the “Polish exception” in the sense of the enormous grassroots support enjoyed by the insurgent Solidarity well before the commencement of negotiations with the (already-defeated) political incumbents. In any case. Of these. the eventual outcome was shaped by many factors which were unique to Poland and were not duplicated in other roundtable talks during the next twelve months. whereas “expert” discussions helped to clarifL the two sides’ respective positions. the opposition was united. and social issues?’ Of these. the economy was in ruins. from 1986 on. the Catholic Church (augmented by a Pole as the Roman Pontiff) retained its institutional autonomy. those of electoral reform and union pluralism. the Solidarity leaders sought external legitimation of their bargaining position by holding weekly meetings in a Warsaw cinema and seeking public input into the process. The top leadership was looking for ways in which to come to terms with the opposition. economic. free competition for all seats in the Senate and for one-third of those in the lower-house. the Jaruzelski team concluded that the regime had no choice other than to seek a peaceful and negotiated way out of its dismal predicament. unlike the situation in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.*’ On the other hand. particularly the official recognition of Solidarity as a legitimate representative of the opposition. substantive decisions could be reached only with the help of third party. Although the real stake was political power-sharing. the Polish National Roundtable’s agenda sought to address a wide range of political. the martial law regime began experimenting with incremental institutional reforms. at least three warrant consideration. and there was no relief in sight from Moscow. Tokis: InsfitufionBuilding in Hungary 113 Let us begin with Poland. it was the . The historic credit for initiating and successfully implementing a communist party-state’s transformation into a parliamentary system by peacefid means belongs to Solidarity and to the pragmatic incumbents in Poland. although the negotiations took place behind closed doors. namely. Moreover. intermediaries. At the end. and an equally conservative Sejm. remained united and committed to the emancipatory essence of the original Solidarity program. The insurgents. There. though internally divided into radical “confrontationist” and “reformist” consensus-seeking factions. a central and “voivodship” party “apparat”. the issue of power-sharing through a prearranged quota system. Secondly.RudolfL. was made possible by built-in “institutional slack. Thirdly. Catholic Church.

Although the Charter ‘77 group and its sympathizers throughout the country had a splendid record of civil courage in the face of ruthless repression. 1989. the Berlin Wall was breached. since there were two sets of discussions. party-state. On the other hand. On the one hand. “Havel stressed that the November revolt was not against the Communists as such. the “insurgents” bargaining position was extremely weak. the Prague National Roundtable talks of November 26 to December 9. in Prague. particularly the office of the president. the Prague liberals’ fragile negotiating position was significantly undercut by the Slovak “parallel negotiators” insistence on their . yet inherently weak. was a sui generis proposition which offered few. the regime’s ~ollapse. rather than preceded. the Prague National Roundtable was. As may be inferred from the outcome.” However. if any. the Hungarian ruling party was dissolved. the Czech and Slovak “insurgents” were bereft of grassroots support prior to the epic confrontations between the die-hard Husak-Jakes regime and the people on Wenceslaw Square earlier in November. the Polish precedent.114 The Roundfable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f “strong” Polish society which prevailed over the powerfully entrenched. spoke for himself and the goals of the intelligentsia-led Charter ‘77 civil rights movement or for an imagined community of Czechs and Slovaks. he did both. and the Honecker regime was dethroned. the movement as such had no readily available blueprint for institutional change. and their respective opposite numbers at these venues. Poland’s By Prime Minister was a member of Solidarity. he sought to assuage the concerns of the hitherto inert and toward the regime ambivalent. but against the totalitarian order. between Vaclav Havel’s Civic Forum and Jan Carnogursky’s Public Against Violence (PAV). it was with Havel. and could have been nothing other than. Unlike in Poland and Hungary. As he put it. Of the two. it is unclear whether Vaclav Havel. Havel’s message to the incumbents served as a reminder of both sides’ precarious legitimacy. one in Prague and one in Bratislava. followed. unless agreement is reached “the public [will] overthrow us and nobody knows what will follow. that the substantive negotiations took place-with a decisive impact on short.~’ that time.”26 The gist of Havel’s position may thus be described as “institutional continuity and political change by way of selective replacement of top incumbents. Due to chaos on the streets and the pressure of time to restore a semblance of normality.and long-term institutional consequences. That said. self-censored-evidence concerning these deliberation^:^ and notwithstanding the overwhelming public support for drastic change.7 million communists” of Czechoslovakia. In any case. possibly. ready-made solutions for future negotiations in Budapest and Prague? The term “Czechoslovak National Roundtable” is a misnomer. a hastily improvised dialogue between the two sides. As may be judged from the scant-and subsequently. More to the point. though a factor as a kind of subtext for the antagonists of subsequent roundtable talks in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. he took a strong stance on behalf of “law and order” and respect for state institutions. public by saying that he had “no wish to punish [the] 1.’92s In any event. the principal opposition negotiator.

On the other hand. a net assessment of the institutional consequences of the Czechoslovak National Roundtable scenario might include factors such as the significant imbalance of forces between incumbents and insurgents. in institutional terms irreconcilable. The main question-left unsaid at the outset-was how far they .” On the other hand. agenda. the reformer Alexander Dubcek and his short-lived “socialism with a human face”thus an unresolved and volatile legacy of ethno-nationalism and democratic socialism. Prague had the “philosopher king” Tomas Masaryk and the liberal democratic First Republicboth rooted in the rich nonconformist historical and liberal democratic intellectual traditions of a Czech civil society. women. yet in some ways different from. and a heightened sense of national identity. Hungary’s institutional patrimony included both “Polish” and Czech” elements of statehood. though living under the same federal institutional roof. had been there all along. Tokt%: Institution Building in Hungary 115 national. elite-led deliberative assemblies. it was clear that an agenda. had separate and. namely the much-discussed matter of institutional reforms. All this (and much more) was on the cards in the winter of 1989-1990. Bratislava had Father Andrej Hlinka and his wartime fascist Slovak state and. and inherently conservative. The crucial point is that the Czech and Slovak elite groups. only the stated goal to reach a “political agreement. more recently. agendas on statehood and on the extent to which they might effect an eventual political. it appears that no one had a clean slate before the onset of communist rule in this part of the world. As will be shown below.27 In short. and built-in imponderables. and children-fully endorsed by Czechs and Poles alike) in mind. those of its Central European neighbors. 1989. as well as “Slovak” elements of ethnic-linguistic intolerance and a short-lived (1944-1 945) relapse to the rule of native fascism. economic. shared commitment to the exclusion of non-elite participants from substantive decision-making prior to free elections. Jan Carnogursky’s demand that “the new federal government show [as] many elements of continuity as possible and that this continuity go beyond the next free elections” hinted at profound cleavages within the insurgent camp. The Hungarian National Roundtable: Change in the System or Change of the System? The participants in the National Roundtable had no prearranged agenda. the negotiators’ definition of the institutional requisites of peaceful transition from one political system to another. such as the Slovak elite’s future adherence to the Prague agreements of November-December. For models and precedents of pre-communist statehood.Rudolf L. and with the dismal precedent of the attribution of “collective guilt” (hence the post-war mass expulsion of ethnic Germans-men. That said. strong attachment to the rule of law. and cultural break with the Husak era. the preconditions for a regime change in Hungary were similar to.

All were “paddling the same boat” but. the party’s chief negotiator. each of these factors was weighted in favor of a positive outcome in the summer of 1989. or. the Opposition Roundtable (EKA). at best. such as Imre Pozsgay. in turn. Following the 1985 multi-candidate elections. Although the negotiators spoke for three distinct elite constituencies-the party. hitherto invisible. The eventual outcome of the roundtable negotiations depended on the negotiating behavior of key individuals with national constituencies and personal goals of their own. on that of the institutional actors. The state’s chosen institutional partner to effect the desired change was Parliament. and the regime’s social auxiliaries-and for three seemingly incompatible sets of interests. the legislative branch (with some behind-the-scenes support from pro-reform state bureaucrats) ceased to be the regime’s obedient “voting machine. by his subsequent admission. Washington. The incumbent party and state political elites were locked in a struggle for power which helped to paralyze the opponents of political pluralism and incremental institutional change within the political establishment. groups of increasingly assertive party-member and independent MPs sought to promote constituency interests and those of the MSZMP’s reform-minded elites around Imre Pozsgay. and on externally (Moscow. the state. such as the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party (MSZMP) and the new political parties. The state bureaucracy. . with respect to a choice between the options of “change in” and “change of’ the system.” From 1987 on.116 The Roundtable Talkx of 1989: TIie Genesis of Hungarian Democracy might go along the path of reform yet still remain within the increasingly flexible boundaries of the existing political system. Such beliefs and preferences subsequently evolved into a spectrum of political postures on such preliminary questions of politics as “Who governs?” “By what title?” and “Who guards the guardians?” In any case. with Prime Minister Mikl6s NCmeth’s self-designated caretaker “government of experts” at the helm. Imre Pozsgay. or the boat’s intended destination. their shared predicament may be likened to passengers of a boat adrift in a strong current heading toward an uncertain destination. was working for the destruction of the MSZMP?9 The EKA’s insistence on negotiating with the party rather than with the state enabled the insurgents to deal with leaders of a demoralized and rapidly disintegrating institution and thus benefit from the conflicting personal ambitions of its feuding leaders. and for the time being. opposition parties began to register in the opinion polls. However. only partly articulated. ex ante beliefs (discussed above) and institutional preferences for a yet-to-be born post-communist Hungarian polity. which was the ultimate guarantor of a positive outcome of the roundtable process. that is. helped to level the political playing field in favor of a major overhaul of all political institutions in Hungary. The opposition’s negotiating leverage was further enhanced by the outcome of four parliamentary by-elections held in July and August. Bonn) induced shifts in the balance of power between the regime and the opposition?* These factors. it was neither key individuals nor competing institutional participants but an external entity. In fact. The stock of the. also influenced the roundtable participants’ largely hidden. the anxious passengers were willing to gamble on radical change.

grassroots petitions for the recall of unpopular parliamentary deputies. citizens’ initiatives. the government’s team of legal experts at the Ministry of Justice prepared. by way of legislative initiatives. . It was a bold legislative initiative which set the agenda for institutional reform for the next fifteen months. the establishment of administrative tribunals for election disputes. completed the process of the state’s emancipation from party domination. the replacement of the Presidential Council by the President of the People’s Republic. T6kks: Institution Building in Hungary 117 The main road markers of the reform socialists’ remarkable record between June 1988 and June 1989 may be summarized as follows: Beginning with its inauguration on November 24. of the state’s right to implement drastic economic reforms through new laws and the general budgetary process. the “democracy package”-a comprehensive list of seventeen items-which a group of independent-minded party and nonparty MPs had submitted to Parliament in June 1988: The “democracy package” was submitted barely a month after Khdir’s ousting from the leadership. a new law to determine the constitutional position of the MSZMP.” the Workers’ Militia.Rudolf L.~’ From early 1989 onwards. assembly. Government action abolishing party control in personnel matters and bringing the party’s “private army. the drafting and enactment of a new con~titution. above all. new laws on national minorities. plebiscites. new House rules for Parliament. and. new laws on association and free assembly. 1998. A related objective was the reassertion. and local government. and promised to implement. and the proposing of plebiscites on matters of national importance by citizens’ groups. and submitted for legislative action a series of bills which sought the enactment of two kinds of law: those designed to reform state institutions and those to bring Hungarian statutes into conformity with previously ratified international agreements on human rights by way of enabling legislation on the same. enterprise reforms. new laws on the press and on electronic media. Some of these dovetailed-and often preceded-the ruling party’s gradual policy concessions on association. The main items included modification of the electoral law. obtained party authorization for. on the establishment of a Constitutional Court and on the office of Ombudsman. under the control of the Ministry of Defence. the right to strike. Much of the rapid and somewhat chaotic parliamentary activity preceding the convening of the National Roundtable on June 13th. on the trade unions and on human rights. The government’s initiatives yielded a veritable flood of new laws on many subjects in the first half of 1989. the Nkmeth government embraced as its own. had been part of the government’s campaign to strip the MSZMP of its traditional perquisites of rulemaking and legislative agenda-setting. 1989.

3 One way to come to grips with the rich. be likened to reading passengers’ lips in a moving train passing through a dark tunnel. The chosen vehicle of inquiry will be termed a “constitutional model. The basic purpose of constitutions is to enshrine ideological core values and institutional ar- ’ . what they set out to do before entering the tunnel. created an instant multiparty system also. The government’s unilateral empowerment of the National Roundtable negotiators to serve as members of a “parallel Parliament/ ad hoc constituent assembly” enlarged the circle of authorised institution builders and. By withdrawing all previously submitted “constitutional” bills from parliamentary consideration and handing over the entire package for decision by the NRT. perhaps. Although we know. the office of President of the Republic. let us assign descriptive labels to each successive constitutional-institutional blueprint.” In the context of the following arguments by a constitutional model. the revision of the Criminal Code. as well as what they agreed on at the end. and why. shortly after the commencement of the National Roundtable process. the government took the first step toward political pluralism in Hungary. Qualitative systemic changes called for a different kind of legislative agenda.” “democratic” and “democratic-plus” seek to denote the normative essence of each successive institutional blueprint. press and media law. rather than oJ the existing political system. electoral procedures. I understand a legalideological artifact.” “transitional.118 The Roirndtablc Talks o 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy f All of these measures were designed to effect changes in. For the sake of the orderly presentation of evidence.000(+) page-long transcript and appended documentary material as augmented by firstand second-hand commentary by participants and observers respectively. body of evidence might be found by comparing the “before” and “after” versions of institutional blueprints which came before the negotiators. The Nkmeth government crossed the political-ideological Rubicon in late June. at least in terms of political rhetoric from all sides.” on such subjects as the Constitution itself. It is a challenging enterprise which may.” “reform socialist. by administrative fiat. albeit opaque. when. Political Change and Institutional Design: Models in Search of Survival and Stability The task at hand is to assess the contributions of the roundtable process to the crafting of political institutions in post-communist Hungary. 1989. which is designed to translate the framers’ normative preferences and institutional choices into a blueprint for governance. As will appear below. Some of the answers may be found in the National Roundtable’s 3. nine years after the fact we still do not know exactly who said-mainly off the record-what to whom. political parties and party financing. At issue was the enactment of “fundamental” laws of “constitutional stature. the terms “communist. and the establishment of new institutions for the protection of human rights. the Constitutional Court.

that is. and grant significantly enhanced autonomy for the state and its specialized agencies-above all the government. 1988.RudolfL. which incorporated the results of a political agreement between the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) and the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) of May 1990. that is. Tokks:Institution Building in Hungary 119 rangements. Accordingly. institutions. to offer recognition and provide legal protection of newly evolving property relations. 32 Secondly came “model RS” (Reform Socialist). economy. as amended up to 1989. Act XX of 1949. between 1949 and 2000: Firstly. RS. The new constitution was to be a “forward-looking” instrument of a lawgoverned state (jogdlam). which consisted of Act XXXI of 1989-incorporating the gist of the National Roundtable Agreement. which amended and totally reshaped “model C” and also included additional laws enacted by Parliament in October 1989. as enacted into law by the freely elected Parliament in the summer of 1990. and D are salient to the matter at hand. as well as by legal academics. particularly the relationships between citizens and state. and reshaped old. The RS model originated with a MSZMP Politburo decision of May 3 lst. the old communist-era constitution. by experts at the Council of Ministers. The task force’s mainstated and unstated-findings may be summarized as follows: “Model C” no longer corresponded with Hungary’s new political and socio-economic realities in the late 1980s and became an impediment to evolutionary change in politics. social stability and economic development. it had to be replaced by a new “basic law” and a set of appropriately redesigned old laws. into a seamless whole of political legitimacy. Therefore. T. ” Of the five models. Thirdly came “model T” (Transitional). came “model C” (Commzmist). the middle three. which commissioned a Ministry of Justice-led task-force to “review the constitution” and prepare recommendations for the “guiding principles” of a new con~titution. and Fifthly came “model D+ which consisted of the sum total of constitutional amendments enacted since the fall of 1990 and of several Acts of Parliament “of constitutional stature” which created new. Fourthly came “modelD ’’ (Democratic).~~ ministry’s report had been scrutinized by a Central CommitThe tee. In a somewhat more circumspect manner. a. and society. It was to contain explicit provisions for citizens’ rights.(CC-) appointed constitutional co-ordinating group. although the zero-sum implications . as well as by newly created institutions and regulatory mechanisms. which was a comprehensive package of legal proposals by academic-bureaucrats of the Ministry of Justice submitted to the Central Committee of the MSZMP in JanuaryFebruary 1989.

for Imre Pozsgay. maintaining its dependence on the government. and the office of a Parliamentary spokesperson (Ombudsman) for citizens’ rights. as the embodiment of Hungary’s “thousand year-old legal continuity of [sovereign] statehood. to preserve the administrative autonomy of corporatist entities. In a somewhat schizophrenic manner. to strengthen Parliament-although. such as the old coat-ofarms (including the Holy Crown of Saint Stephen at the top). the creation of the office of President of the Republic. language of the ministry report. the report urged the restoration of traditional symbols of statehood. a significant increase in the scope of Parliament’s legislative activity. to introduce new institutional pillars-the presidency. to build up Prime Minister Mikl6s Nkmeth’s position against Party Secretary-General Khroly Gr6sz and the conservative party “apparat”. old and new. may be decoded as the incumbent reform-socialist legal technocrats’ responses to the “first question. In institutional terms.120 The Roiriidtuble Talks o 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy f 0 are unambiguous. and the courts.” Moreover. such as the local authorities.” that is. when put in the context of the Hungarian political elites’ still unresolved power struggle for the right to set the terms for changes in (or oj) the political system. What they were saying was that the state. a Constitutional Court.” had to be restored to its proper place at the apex of political institutions. the document also called for the deletion of references to the MSZMP in the new constitution and banned the “direct use of [state] power” by any political party. for members of the incumbent legal establishment. These proposals. and to set terms for the administration of controlledpolitical change by way of constitutional provisions for party pluralism and government-supervised elections. Specifically. to preserve socio-economic stability whilst promoting necessary political change. “Who governs?” of Hungarian transition politics of 1989-1 990. the state was to be embedded in the context of a rational and transparent system of checks and balances in which each. but yet sought to retain the designation of the state as a “people’s democracy. the procuracy. by rejecting the bicameral option. the reform socialists’ real intentions become quite clear. and the Constitutional Court. although in certain respects extremely specific. component would function in harmony. . a National Accounting Office. the RS model called for the full restoration of the traditional pre-communist powers of the prime minister and those of the state bureaucracy. the trade unions. In the somewhat opaque. the constitutional draughtsmen (essentially the Minister of Justice and his two deputies-all law professors) and the socialist reform-elites for whom they spoke sought: to preserve the still viable and discard the dysfunctional components of “model C”.

” laws. on a dozen or so “fundamental” laws on key institutions with which to preserve legal continuity and yet facilitate institutional change. was reformable under the auspices of the incumbent state administrative elites. the proposed implementation of the RS model focused on the bare essentials-that is. by way of enabling legislation. These were designed to spearhead the process of institutional modernization and political change. in the case of a new constitution. the courts. instead of a crash program of legal review and codification (still unfinished ten years later).” each of which defined or redefined the modus operandi of core institutions and political processes. (6) lawmaking and. was that. In any case. Thus. and verbal instructions to Parliament and government agencies. (d) a national referendum. and (e) follow-up legislative approval-was predicated on the basis of a three-year process of controlled political change under a Communistdominated multiparty coalition g ~ v e r n m e n t . the press failed to mention the obvious. The most important of these was the belief that with the removal of the “loose cannon” ruling party from the constitution. but pointed out in the press. (b) (regime-supervised) “public discussion” of proposed legislation.” or “fundamental. the Council of Ministers. with incremental innovations and the instauration of reinvented and replicated 34 institutions. The latter were intended to codi@ the modus operandi of new institutions and to reconfirm the corporatist autonomy of old institutions such as the local authorities. ~ ~ The new constiiution was envisaged-though never so stated-as a replica of the German Basic Law as retro-fitted with a cluster of “semi-basic.500 published (and a great many unpublished) decrees of the Presidential Council. albeit unstated. political and legal assumptions. The task of bringing the debris of four decades’ of regulatory chaos into legal concordance with the letter and spirit of a new constitution was an inherently unmanageable proposition. and other government agencies. The regime’s scenario-(a) legislative considwation. the institutional architecture of existing socialism.RudoVL. Left unsaid in the report. the operational intent of the “basic” and the “semi-basic” laws. Discussion It appears that the RS model was built on several. resolutions. during the preceding four decades. namely that all Acts of Parliament and most decrees “with the force of law” had originated with (mainly unpublished) MSZMP Politburo or Secretariat decisions. whilst the country was run on the dubious constitutionality of some 6. Tokks: Institution Building in Hungary 121 Next to a new constitution. The second was a list of sixty-three laws to codify and/or to implement. the report also listed two kinds of law which needed to be enacted to complete the process of institutional overhaul. largely dormant. the. . Parliament had enacted only fiftyodd laws. and the trade unions. The first consisted of fourteen “laws of constitutional stature.

and second-generation rights. in the course of constitutional deliberations.” The dilemma of converting the socialist state’s welfare entitlements into guaranteed rights in a “planned-plus-market” mixed economy was finessed by the following formulation: With respect to economic. the regime’s endorsement of the reform-socialist model in February. or to amend. the very same Parliament was to be endowed with near-veto powers by the requirement of a two-thirds majority of votes to pass. but it is by no means the sole repository of the sum total of power derived from popular sovereignty. without a planning document of this kind. fractious multiparty Parliament. Yet. in view of the available resources. of a smoothly functioning market. the NRT might have had an inconclusive “Polish” or.”36On the other hand. One surmises that the RS model had in mind a socialist-dominated legislature and a kind of easy-to-change “rubber constitution” rather than a politically divided.. Human rights were a key item in the RS model. 1989. the report’s continued lip-service to the indispensability of central planning raises questions about the real intentions of the RS model. though very much a part of the reform socialists’ agenda. “Parliament is the bearer of important entitlements bequeathed to it by [the principle ofl popular sovereignty. general [constitutional] guarantees are realized in terms of the state’s activities. as will be shown below. The RS model provided for a strong executive (see above) and severely limited the scope of legislative authority. Basic personality and procedural. the list of rights was construed from two sources. elsewhere. . fundamental laws.. such as the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and similar charters to which Hungary had adhered and which Parliament had ratified in the preceding four decades. as the economic policy corollary of the German institutional template. rather than o j the political system. by way of adaptation to conditions of the world economy and to the creation of a [domestic] productivity-oriented economic environment. However.“8 In short.”37However. were to be derived from international norms. it will be necessary to review. Much of the latter was a carbon copy of welfare rights which one could find in “model C. It has no operative role in the guidance of the state. Instead of the scope of state intervention. The RS model was conceived as an open-ended agenda for controlled change in. which of the state’s previous obligations can be honored in the future.122 Tile Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Niingarian Democracy Soziule Murktwirtschuft. a “Czech” ending rather than a feasible program for peaceful systemic change. social and cultural rights. The generous inventory of personal and political rights is supplemented by an even more generous list of “third-generation” social and economic rights. it is the legal means with which the state endeavors to realize such rights which ought to be specified. was smuggled into the report with an awkward formulation: “It must be registered as a constitutional tenet that the Hungarian economy is a market economy which is influenced by socialist socio-economic goals and is one in which the basic task of the state’s economic policy is the promotion. worse. or the so-called first. As the report put it. In a separate chapter devoted to this matter. marked the beginning of Hungary’s institutional transformation.

and the procuracy.’74o the following fourteen chapters there is a list of In general provisions which included detailed descriptions of the scope of Parliament’s legislative competence and language on the status of MPs. and the State Audit Office). Upon comparing the text of the Ministry of Justice report of January-February 1989 and that of the interim constitution of October 1989. followed by the specification of the modus operandi of new institutions (the Presidency. a written political pact. In a legal sense.Rudolf L. the military. according to press reports. the Constitutional Court. This is probably true but begs the question as to how much of the 80 percent change should be credited to the RS model and its legislative follow-up prior to the National Roundtable. the courts. the October 1989 version changed all but 20 percent of the 1988 text. the National Roundtable Agreement proper. model C plus twenty-one modifications between 1949 and 1988. and how much to the opposition’s efforts at the National Roundtable talks. Let us consider each.” . the Act’s principai objectives were the facilitation of “peaceful transition to a constitutional state” and the instauration of a “multiparty system. On the other hand. it is fair to assume that it was the remaining quarter which contained the new language which was mainly responsible for the reshaping of old. it appears that about three-quarters of the RS text. the office of Ombudsman. to whatever extent. unavailable to the Hungarian public. and the creation of new. 33 From this. In any case. that of the government. several Acts of Parliament enacted between October 1989 and March 1990. the model included the revised constitution. for the next ten years. with minor changes and the repositioning of several paragraphs. According to the preamble to Act XXXI of 1989. was incorporated into Act XXXI of 1989. This may be yet another reason why the transcript of the National Roundtable’s deliberations was. Act XXXI of 1989 was an amended version of Act XX of 1949. parliamentary democracy. and socially responsible market economy. that is. institutions for a post-communist Hungary. subsequently modified in the course of parliamentary (committee-level) deliberations in October 1989. and from interviews with key roundtable negotiators. That said. and various transition-linked confidence-building measures derived from the “spirit” of the Agreement. Th’kb: Institution Building it1 Hungary 123 Transition Contingencies: Provisional or Permanent Institutions? Model T consisted of laws. it may be surmised that some of these “proposals” were. and informal agreements. Specifically. and a comprehensive list of “fundamental rights and duties of citizens. it must be kept in mind that the published text of the National Roundtable Agreement merely lists the subjects of “six legislative proposals”-one of which was for the amending of the old constitution-but does not provide the agreed language for them.

a nearly completed draft charter of key political institutions. and an exhaustive list of fbndamental rights and of the duties of citizens. to a decisive extent. by new constitutional provisions for the enactment and/or the amendment of “fundamental” laws and those of “constitutional . Thus the restoration of Parliament’s traditional powers was the principal political payoff of opposition pressure to recapture strategic decision-making from the party-state bureaucracy for the citizens of Hungary. the office of President. Throughout history. in many ways by the spirit of. In sharp contrast to the RS model’s grudging concessions to parliamentary sovereignty. Subsequent modifications. Parliament’s legislative powers were further enhanced or. i. still determined by the letter and. The Interim Constitution was meant to be a provisional charter to provide legal continuity between model RS-cum-National Roundtable Agreement and the convening of a freely elected multiparty Parliament in May 1990. The purpose of this ideological rhetoric was to neutralize the potential nay-saying (predominantly party-member) MPs and secure their vote for the enactment of new laws. Parliament. Parliament shall ensure the constitutional order of society.” although an accurate characterization of the Hungarian institution builders’ original intent. depending on the circumstances. as effected by models D and D+ notwithstanding. Formulations such as “The Republic of Hungary shall be an independent and democratic constitutional state in which the values of civil democracy and of democratic socialism prevail” [Section 2 (l)] and “Hungary shall have a market economy also making use of the advantages of planning in which public and private property shall receive equal consideration and protection under the law” [Section 9 (l)] were convenient fig-leaves to legitimate the socialist state’s incumbent administrative elites’ status on the public payroll. direction and conditions of government” [Section 4 (2)]. As will be shown below. constrained. the essential structural components of each of the main pillars-the Interim Constitution. the party.and the electoral system-were “cast in concrete” in 1989. and determine the organization. “model T”.124 Discussion The Roundtable Talks o f 1989: The Genesis of Htmngarian Democracy Let us consider the main components of “model T. the interim constitution provided for a radically different formulation: “Exercising its rights deriving from the sovereignty of the people. As an institutional shell. for Hungary’s political classes of the day it was a familiar tool with which to promote and oversee effective governance. The document as such may be seen as a combination of ideological rhetoric. is misleading. Government. the Constitutional Court. the organizational logic and patterns of interaction among all key institutions and the role-driven behavior of top incumbents are.” It must be stated at the outset that the adjective “transitional. Parliament had been a flexible instrument with the historically proven capacity to function with or without a written constitution and yet to facilitate legal continuity from one political regime to another.

at the expense of the other organs of the state. Parliament’s constitutional charter was simply another shell still to be given operative meaning with a charter. of its own. ministerial decrees. In any case. Parliament had the right to force a government to resign but not the responsibility to propose an alternative cabinet. that is the House Rules.’’41 lieu of a deIn tailed listing of the Court’s powers and legal perquisites. and to make provisions for the separation and mutual balancing of powers. and (d) “abstract constitutional interpretation.” that is. and regulations issued by other central and local state administrative authorities. the determination of the constitutionality of bills pending in Parliament (repealed by Act I of 1998).” The very long list of such laws and the requirement of two-thirds majorities of all MPs for passage or amendment [Section 9 (3)] was clearly designed to tie (not only the Nimeth but the post-election) government’s hands in several policy fields. The provision that “Parliament shall decide on the election of a new government within forty days from the approval of the motion of no confidence” [Section 25 (2)] evoked the specter of an Italian-style legislative gridlock and interim governance by the non-elected state bureaucracy.’’43 Precisely.RudolfL. organizations. in the Hungarian case Elster totally misreads the evidence when saying: . in response to legal queries submitted to the Court. These are (a) “specific norm control. The establishment of the Constitutional Court-an institution without precedent in Hungarian jurisprudence-was the reform socialist legal establishment’s answer to a key question of post-communist politics: “Who guards the guardians?” According to the preamble to Act XXXII of 1989. (c) “preliminary abstract norm control. created an immensely powerful new political institution of legal oversight with the capacity to control and modify the behavior of institutions and key incumbents in post-communist Hungary. (b) “abstract norm control. and lower courts.” that is. in the Court’s judgment. Parliament created a Central Committee “to construct a law-governed state to defend constitutional order and that of the constitutionally guaranteed basic rights. pose analogous constitutional issues. ii. However. According to this measure. the determination of the constitutionality of laws. The Court’s jurisdiction covers four main areas of constitutional review. Tiikb: Institution Building in Hungay 125 standing.” that is the adjudication of individual petitions submitted by citizens.” that is. probably quite unwittingly. The same “republican” (in the sense of the French Third and Fourth Republic) spirit motivated the enactment of procedures for a legislative vote of “no confidence” in the government [Section 14 (3a)l. the determination of the constitutionality of the issue at hand and/or that of laws and other regulations that. it should be stated at the outset that the (lame duck) Hungarian Parliament. The interests of that institution will be then to enhance its own position in the constitutional framework.42 In an essay on the politics of East European constitution-making Elster submits: “Suppose that a political institution is both a participant in the constitution-making process and is among the institutions to be regulated by the constitution.

with or without proof.. even though they did not have to. much of the interim constitution had been derived from the RS model. the Hungarian constitution-framers’ alleged “abdication of. by a cluster of add-on “non-political” and “expert” semi-autonomous bureaucratic fiefdoms. the State Accounting Office. . On the other hand. the Court’s self-attribution. constitution-making was not a dayto-day improvisation and building of a “basic law” from randomly selected statutes and legal norms. iii. Its charter was also a political agenda for the governance of post-communist Hungary. It was a product of the old regime’s enlightened legal experts’ vision of a “law-governed” post-communist state. a legal artifact entitled Act XXXII of 1989.powers” to extraparliamentary institutions was part of the incumbent legal experts’ antirepublican agenda-that of constraining the scope of the decisional competence of elected bodies. In any case. the police. The institution of President of the Republic had been ushered into Hungary by revolutions (1848-849 and 1918). The Hungarian Constitution was produced a chaud. the military.45In other words. These included that of Ombudsman (one for the protection of citizens’ rights. and other non-elected “guardians of public interest” such as the governing bodies of “public service” electronic media. The crucial difference was perhaps that.” in this case of the much-admired German model of constitutional review. The Central Committee was much more than a fail-safe golden parachute for selected members of the old Communist and non-communist legal establishment. the procuracy. It seems that this body. the National Bank. and has been since 1990. of “hyper-rati~nality”~~ supreme as the guardian of the public interest may have been evidence of what one might call custodial hubris. contrary to uninformed speculation by Western analysts concerning institutional changes in Hungary. and the deputies demoralized. unlike in other East European countries."^^ No one knew what these were in the autumn of 1989. but an incumbent Ministry of Justice-supervised effort to assemble. it is self-evident that the “fictive notion of transplantation. Because the institution was in poor repute. by a parliament elected before the transition. mainly from prefabricated elements. institutional interest had no leverage on the final outcome. and by political sea changes-as in . especially of Parliament. that is. another for the protection of national and ethnic minorities). Moreover. served to “hide the [institution-] designers’ real intention^. as will be discussed below. Hungary never elected a constituent parliament. in Offe’s terms. an emergency operation almost. on a day-to-day basis. was. the justices of the Court.44 As shown above. seen by the creatures of Act XXXII of 1989.126 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy The Hungarian framers abdicated a great deal of their powers to other institutions [that is. particularly Parliament. outside Parliament]. Some of it may be perceived as a built-in vote of no confidence in institutions of popular sovereignty. as a potential heir to the institutionalized voluntarism of the old ruling party which could not be trusted to translate its political mandate into legitimate rule making and constitutional governance. thence the codification of the socialist reform elites’ institutional interests.

insofar as they created any kind of legal precedent. Independent Smallholders. the presidential portion of the RS model was custom-made for a well-known (and preferably popular) socialist reform politician. regime policies. the reform socialists’ dissatisfaction with the old Presidential Council’s prodigious law-making activities crystallised in the form of a blueprint for the upgrading of this position from that of a substitute for Parliament to that of its constitutionally bounded (and politically subordinated) institutional partner. By October 1989 up to a quarter of the sitting MPs came under such civic scrutiny. he became the MSZMP’s candidate for the presidency. In any case. In view of Imre Pozsgay ’s all-butpublicly-announced candidacy for this position and of his high standing in the polls in the first nine months of 1989. However. in 1989 the RS model expanded this notion (see Act XVII of 1989) by empowering voters to initiate petitions for the recall of their parliamentary MPs. showed the bearer of this title as more of a figurehead than a “semi-strong” head of state. by a narrow margin. Fidesz. necessarily. These brief periods. election by plebiscite rather than by Parliament.” let alone dictatorial. the refusal of the Free Democrats’ and of the Youth Federation’s (Fidesz) to sign the agreement. that is. which led to the first (and only) political clash over institutional design in the transition period. and subsequently implemented. of the proposed January 1990 plebiscite for President entailed both short-term electoral and long-term political consequences. and Social Democrats) drive to force a plebiscite on this matter. T6kis: brstituiioit Building in Hungary 127 1945-1948. need not be retold here. As indicated above. The institution of the plebiscite was a Soviet import into Hungarian public law.RtrdolfL. 48 Whereas the defeat on November 26. and the successful four-party (Free Democrats. . The story of the National Roundtable Agreement. As may be inferred from the inconclusive documentary evidence. the real analytical issue is that of the precedent set for the direct exercise of popular sovereignty in post-communist Hungary. which endorsed both the method and the proposed timing of presidential elections. he insisted on the implementation of the RS model. This tradition was further strengthened by the forty-year history of Hungary’s Soviet-style collective presidency and by the dismal record of the series of political nonentities who chaired this body under Rikosi and Kidhr. in the summer of 1989 it was not the method of election or. Although Pozsgay had nothing against Parliament and was not particularly interested in the acquisition through this office of “strong. powers. A watered-down version of this institution had been officially sponsored “public debates”-such as those which preceded the introduction of multicandidate elections in 1985-on previously decided. his asking-price for the regime’s delivering against the opposition forces’ extensive legislative wish-list was their endorsement of his candidacy for President of the Republic. As his party’s chief National Roundtable negotiator. the candidate as a person but the incumbents’ insistence that it be held prior to parliamentary elections. 1989. The actual participants in these staged affairs were selected representatives of the regime’s corporatist auxiliaries.

” or at most “semi-strong. which the terms political pluralism and multiparty democracy generally denote. or at the exclusive possession of power”.. Parties are referred to in Section 2 (3) and Section 3 (1-3) in Act XXXI of 1989. granted official recognition as parties rather than as “social organizations” by the regime. Firstly... that direct democracy. “.. The legal status of political parties and that of electoral procedures was codified in Acts XXXIII and XXXIV of 1989. that the constitutional ban on oneparty rule may be read as normative bias against the formation of a. Par. The key provisions are “.” albeit one held behind closed doors. .” Two issues are worthy of note. for purposes of roundtable negotiation. Although the model D constitution paid lip-service to the principle of direct democracy [Chapter I. As political parties and electoral laws (legal.. or of any citizen. “. As discussed above. by-products of transition politics. such as the election of a President by plebiscite. whether of a social or a state organization. no activity. as well as a kind of “public debate. no party may control or direct any State organ”. The outcome carried two important lessons for the political classes of post-communist Hungary: firstly. however . parties shall take part in forming and expressing the will of the people..~~institutions. . Although the recall of a few unpopular MPs and the one-time alteration by plebiscite of the presidency-related sections of the National Roundtable Agreement ran counter to the logic of negotiated institutional change.. iv. The opposition forces’ quasiparliamentary standing was affirmed by the Agreement. which conferred legal immunity from police harassment on all EKA negotiators for the duration of the transition period..” “. to ensure the effective separation of the parties from State power.” office of President of the Republic. With these confidence-building measures in mind.. these could be (and were) promptly written off as unplanned. “gate-keeping” mechanisms which provide access to the legitimate exercise of legislative power) are all parts of a symbiotic whole. 2 (2)]. subject to the observance of the Constitution and the constitutional laws. and “. and. 29/A (l)]. the same model provided for the election of President by Parliament [Chapter 111. parties may not exercise public power directly . but not fatally damaging. secondly. Par. the constituent units of the EKA were. may be aimed at securing or exercising power by means of force. that the exercise of direct democracy entailed the introduction of (inherently uncontrollable) public emotions into the constitutionally regulated and elite-managed processes of normal politics.. The shared objective of negotiations was to prevent “the man in the street” from interfering with the implementation of elite-brokered political pacts. re~pectively. the law shall determine the positions and public offices which may not be filled by any member or officer of any party. inevitably confers on the chosen person a kind of super-legitimacy which neither parliamentary MPs nor the Prime Minister enjoy and which also runs counter to the elites’ widely shared ex ante consensus on a “weak. political parties may be freely formed and may freely operate”. let us consider the parties’ constitutional position in the interim constitution.128 The Roundtable Talks of1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy The roundtable process was an elite affair.

the conceptualization of party-financing (campaign expenses. is the Agreement’s signatories’ commitment to two-one self-serving and one prudential-overriding political objectives. one-party government. salaries of officers. Act XXXIV of 1989. gained seats in the freely elected Par- . ~The technical aspects. might have been interpreted by that party as excessive-hence the motive to invite the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) to form a coalition government. “On the Election of Members of Parliament” was a wellnegotiated and legally watertight agreement between the regime and the opposit i ~ n . the Hungarian Socialist Party’s (MSZP) landslide electoral victory in 1994 and its control of 54 percent of parliamentary seats. made the new multiparty system appear. with ideologically untainted supra-political status. the heads and key members of institutions such as the Court and a host of semiautonomous agencies of legal-administrative oversight. In any case. The opposition negotiators were both self-selected and regimesanctioned representatives of largely non-existent party constituencies. the ban on party affiliation by key officials (save for the cabinet and officers of Parliament) and of the anointing.and right-wing parties with a large enough membership to mount mass demonstrations became law-abiding financial wards of the state. d) need not be discussed here. When seen in this light. According to the National Roundtable Agreement of September 18. On the other hand. particularly the nearly impenetrable details of ’ electoral mathematics (on this. the MSZP. perhaps the most sensible use of state funds for party financing was to hand out operating subsidies to “also ran” parties which received at least 1 percent of the popular vote at parliamentary elections. Tokks: Institution Building in Hungary 129 freely elected. On the one hand. and other operating costs) as a linear extension of the MSZMP’s self-evidently illegitimate expropriation in the preceding forty years of public funds for party purposes. see Appendix No. Moreover. it sought to cover up the enormous disparity between the resources of the penniless new parties and those of the billionaire (in US dollar terms) MSZMP and its successor. Their active participation in the roundtable process and signatures-granted or withheld-on the closing document gave invaluable public exposure. is evidence of the reform socialist constitution-framers’ deeply held anti-republican bias. par. Secondly. which although elected by Parliament are profoundly political.Rudolf L. thus an early start to six opposition parties and-except for a few independents and one MP from the Agrarian Alliance (ASZ)-all but one party (the Social Democrats) and the MSZMP’s successor party. all would-be-trouble-making left. Unlike the party law with its many legal loopholes for financial mischief.” This quote is highly revealing and merits closer scrutiny. “[Tlhe introduction of the multiparty system should not entail greater financial burdens for society than the one-party system. in the name of “equal opportunity” (ese‘lyegyenlb’skg). 4 to Article 52. although never challenged by the Constitutional Court. in the public eye. What stands out perpetuated and institutionalized the political parties’ financial dependency on the state budget. as an equally frivolous burden on the state treasury and as a misuse of tax monies. 1989. the MSZP. In this way.

version of an interim con~titution. the other parliamentary parties and became the source of political distrust among all parties-especially between the principals in this affair. Model D: A New Beginning or Old Wine in New Bottles? The “stability of newly born democratic institutions” and the enhanced “governability” of the Republic were the reasons stated for the conclusion of a political agreement between the winner and the runner-up in the March-April. the substantive provisions (a) restored to Parliament the right to elect the President of the Republic. In any case. the MDF-SZDSZ agreement was concluded with the exclusion of. The 4 percent electoral threshold imposed to make a party eligible to be allocated seats based on regional and national party lists proved to be a critically important screening device to limit the number of parliamentary parties.” was partly a streamlined. under constitutionally specified circumstances. With these constitutional modifications in place and the enactment (with very few changes) of the old regime’s draft bill on the election of councilors and mayors of local authorities (Act LXIV of 1990).” The MDF-SZDSZ “pact” was designed to eliminate the old regime’s ideological rhetoric from the text of the Constitution and to fiee the cabinet government from parliamentary procedural traps which the framers of model T had laid for the executive branch.’~ . The prudential objective of governability was a shared concern of all roundtable participants.130 The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f liament. Act XL of 1990. probably. and (d) abolished the category of laws denoted as “basic” and “of constitutional stature” and specified twenty legislative subjects requiring a two-thirds majority for enactment into law and for their subsequent amendment. “On Amending the Constitution of the Republic of Hungary. SZDSZ’s asking-price of the new coalition government’s endorsement of an SZDSZ backbencher’s nomination as President of the Republic seemed. to dissolve Parliament. a fair exchange for the stabilization of the prime minister’s position during the next parliamentary cycle. free elections. as well as being. the most positive legacy of the roundtable process. (b) stabilized the position of the Prime Minister by making him alone accountable to Parliament for the performance of his cabinet by way of (successful) submission of a “constructive motion of no confidence” (on four separate occasions within twelve months. 1990. together with the election of a new candidate within forty days thereafter). at that time. “people’s democracy. both preventing political fragmentation and facilitating stable party coalitions. and the like. the stage was set for “normal politics” and democratic institution-building in H~ngary. and partly a selectively revised. (c) expanded the nominating powers of the President and empowered him.” central planning. and unbeknown to.~~ from purging from the earlier text all references to Apart socialism. unlike the “all-party” National Roundtable agreement.

that is. such as the authorization of party pluralism. Why Germany and why the German model? Gray’s proposition. the framers finessed the issue by talking about a “law-governed state. and D might seem to be in order. The rest may be . As the framers of the RS model saw it.Rudolf L.” According to DiMaggio and Powell. regime’s dilemmas of legitimacy was provided in the (then Interim) Constitution under the rubric of basic political and social rights. and even in Russia. “[Tlhe more uncertain the relationship between means and ends. “. and social stability. inter alia. codification effort which involved fourteen “fundamental” and sixty-three “other” laws on every conceivable subject. As discussed above. Tokks:Institution Bidding in Himgary 131 At this juncture. The proposed remedy called for an immense. the real answer to the. the German model . for a full inventory of negative (political liberties) and positive (social and welfare) rights to citizens of a Rechtsstaat. Discussion As far as can be determined. and the regime’s under-utilization of the law as the instrument of choice for conflict-resolution had been responsible for the decline and impending crisis of existing socialism in Hungary..”” gives part of the answer. ideological voluntarism..~~s4 issue is the reAt form-socialist framers’ hidden agenda. historically unprecedented. was never articulated in the planning documents-nor was it fully aired in parliamentary discussions on the Nemeth government’s reform bills.” whilst controlling the expansion of civic participation in social (and later political) associations and of greater transparency of the legislative process. The issue of legitimacy. in the sense of the necessity of obtaining public endorsement of the proposed modalities of institutional restructuring. the lack of established participatory mechanisms for the articulation of (mainly economic) interest by organizations and individuals. the transplantation into Hungary of those elements of the German constitutional model which provide.. Instead. the RS model was open-ended in the sense of including institutional changes. the greater the extent to which an organization will model itself after organizations it perceives as successfu1. is perceived in Eastern Europe. an interim balance-sheet on the institutional accomplishments of models RS. particularly overlapping and conflicting party and state jurisdiction over policy and the management of resource allocations. as the real success story of the post-war period. or a law-governed state (jogdlanz). In any case. To the unstated question “What are the legitimacy alternatives to the ‘here and now’?” the reform socialists’ apparent answer was “fhere and now. by then admittedly “transitional”. T. malformed institutional design. each of the three models sought to provide remedies for perceived pathologies of institutional under-performance in respect of political guidance. economic development.. something which could not be accommodated in an evolutionary “change in the regime” type of political paradigm. therefore.

A legitimacy deficit may also be overcome by non-economic means. but come embedded in other institutions. in the interim constitution. enshrined in the Basic Law of the German constit~tion. budgetary expenditure for social welfare purposes in Europe) was a shrewd ploy to buy time for the undisturbed transfer of power from one political elite to another. from the perspective of the viscerally anti-capitalist Hungarian elites-regime and opposition alike-the notion of a social market economy represented the ideal compromise between the.. were available tools to provide the conspicuously missing moral content in elite discourse on institutional change and political transformation. Appeals to potentially high-resonance public values and beliefs. and. including those in which government acts to protect citizens from forms of insecurity that market institutions by themselves may create. albeit never fulfilled. The first sought to evoke the memory of a .132 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy inferred from the Hungarian state bureaucrats’ admiration for that welladministered state-with its social stability and economic prosperity under the management of an autonomous civil service. To the reform socialists. Their thinking may best be described by citing Gray’s explanation of the rationale of the German economic model. such as the ceremonial reburial of Imre Nagy and his fellow victims of post-1956 political repression and the festive instauration of the Republic of Hungary on October 23rd. None of this came to pass in the spring and summer of 1989. demonstrably bankrupt.. legal commitments for the delivery of German-style positive rights in a country with the highest. 1989. Hungarian administrative elite aspirations for such. independent courts. an efficient procuracy. above all. In any case. centrally planned socialist and the unregulated. per capita. the public was treated to moving. that is. These perceptions were rooted both in the risk-averse Beamter mindsets of KBdBr’s nomenklatzwa cadres and in traditional. be complemented by other institutions which confer on market participants forms of security possessed by them as citizens. and instead. in the given circumstances. national independence. its chief attractiveness lay in the fact that the German model delivered in full on all positive rights which the “real existing” socialist state had promised in its constitution but had proved unable to fulfil. Market institutions are not free-standing. were some of the principal legitimacy-building tools of the German model. economically unsustainable.~~” mirage of the instauration of the German model by The “institutional design and legislative fiat” 57 yielded yet another mirage: the framers’ deliberate obfuscation of differences between the programmatic and aspirutional elements of the citizens’ economic and welfare rights in the transitional.. The making of unfimded. the forty-third anniversary of the 1956 revolution. the benefit of solid support from a law-abiding citizenry. spectacles. foreign indebtedness in Eastern Europe (and the highest. per capita. or are powerless to prevent-a task of the government that is .. A “social market economy” (Soziule Marktwirtschafl) and state policies implementing this. such as patriotism. and political justice for every man and woman. and. “bare-knuckle” world of the classical capitalist market economy. “Market institutions must . yet carefilly orchestrated.

Rudolf L. to re-legitimate the reform-socialist antecedents of the current political leadership.” adding that “democratic institutions that fail to provide moral leadership cannot cope with conflicts originating from economic inequality and depri~ation.” “freedom. thereby. masses should seize the moment and take matters into their own hands. the transition elites and their institution-building legal technicians elected to build on loose gravel rather than on the bedrock of authentic legitimacy.three aspiring political parties spoke of “Hungarian-ness. .60 . albeit (that) it had a better grasp. There is ample survey evidence to suggest that both had been understood and internalized primarily in economic securityoriented and institutional stability-oriented survivalist terms. As Przeworski explained. and least frequently mentioned.” “Prosperity. for its Nor resources were insufficient to the satisfaction of what the homo Kcidciricus perceived as public and private interest. “[Clonsent to democracy is contingent. The opiate of cost-free transition from one kind of political and economic system to another could be found in the total omission in all electoral programs of references to forthcoming and inevitable shortfalls in the state’s satisfaction of citizens’ demands for a better life in an existing parliamentary democracy. Instead. the most frequently used campaign slogans in the January-February 1990 TV programs sponsored by forty. The selling of newfangled notions of “democracy” and “market economy” called for a similar commitment. in case the. item in this inventory of political goals. the political bargain makers-politicians and legal technocrats alike-judged well when choosing to refrain from substituting the (inherently undeliverable) constitutional “bread” for the ideological “circus. T6kk Institution Building in Hungav 133 defeated revolution and.”~* could the socialist regime.” “Europe. the key transition document. On balance. a pre-emptive move to neutralize the man-in-the-street. The second was as much the roundtable elite’s-and the Nkmeth government’s-reward to a demobilized public for good behavior. and so it fell to the outgoing Parliament and to the interim constitution which it spawned to commit the post-communist state to the delivery of both symbolic and substantive legitimacy for the new and the restructured old institutions. had nothing to say about either “ideological” or “bread and butter” issues. on the congruence between the moral content of institutions and the basic values of society. Hungarian. In doing so.53 In this kind of cognitive context institutions as such were devoid of moral authority and were seen mainly as targets of relentless individual and societal rent-seeking behavior under the flag of “realisation of interests”--or &rdekkrvknyesitks. hitherto passive. 1989.” was the last..” Indeed.” “nation.” and “democracy. the National Roundtable Agreement of September 18. in The introduction of a multiparty system was marketed to the Hungarian public with the assurance that it would not “cost more” than had the care and feeding of the MSZMP.

Es mi lesz ha nem lesz? Tanulntanyok az dllumrol U 20. 11 As Zygmunt Bauman put it. I should like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to Professor Jhnos Kornai for his valuable comments on an earlier version of this study. al 151. 1986.. especially 265. 1989.there is a yawning gap between what the elites can offer and what their genuine or postulated constituencies want and expect. Rockman (eds.399440. 1957-1990.38. Social Change. Fred Girod. Secretary of CBAAS. “Between Reform and Revolution: Three Hypotheses About the Nature of Regime Change. January 1995.: “Polity Forum: Institutions and Institutionalism. * Parts of this study were written during my tenure as Fellow of Collegium Budapesthstitute for Advanced Study in 1998-1999.134 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy Notes” 1 A case for this proposition is made in Rudolf L. 1996. 8 Bert A. Democratic Stability and Performance” in Metin Heper..): Loirlfirl Revolution in Hungaty. 1995. Koelble. North. TOkCs: “Democracy in Hungary: Institutional Origins and Legitimacy Dilemmas” Discussion Paper. TOkk Hungary’s Negotiated Revolution:Economic Reform. 3. 1997. 1992. public administration and governance: conceptions of the state and its historic roots in Europe). Kathleen Thelen and Frank Longstreth.245-272. Olsen: Rediscovering Institutions: The Organisational Basis o Politics New York: Free Press. Rockman: “Institutions. and Bert A. see Ferenc Eckhart: Magvar alkotmuny is jogtorthet (History of Hungarian constitution and law) (Budapest: Politzer.38-140.2. 1946) and And& KorosCnyi: “Kozj6.): The New Institutionalism in Organisational Analyis Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Institutional Change. 10 Clam Offe: Designing Institutions for East European Transitions.7.” in Sven Steinmo. 15-6. Public Lecture no.. Rudolf L. 7 Robert D h :Preface to Democratic Theory. 5 Kathleen Thelen and Sven Steinmo.): The New Great Transformation? Change and Continuity in East-Central Europe (London: Routledge.” in BCla K. 1991. 3 On the notion of legal continuity in Hungarian public law. The following discussion is based in part on Douglas C. Kirrily and Andrhs Boz6ki (eds.): Structuring Politics.. 13-36. kozigazgakis C kormhnyzati rendszer: Az allamfelfoghok tortdneti gydkerei s Eur6paban” (Public welfare. 1997. . “Historical institutionalism in comparative politics. Institute for Advanced Study. Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Politics New York: Cambridge University Press. Walter W. “Hungarian conceptions of the state in a comparative perspective.4. Christopher Clague. Rector of CB/IAS and Dr. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Powell and Paul J. 1994) 3 1. 2 See. DiMaggio (eds. 1989-1 994.. (What happens when it isn’t there? Studies on the state at the end of the twentieth century) Budapest: Korridor. Elster (ed. March and Johan P. Growth and Governance in Less-Developed and Post-Socialist States Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.): Rational Choice New York: New York University Press..” Comparative Politics 27. Ali Kazancigil. for their generous support of my work at the Collegium.Institutional Change and Economic Pe?$ortance Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. and Phillip J. as well as to Professor Ghbor Klaniczay. “After the patronage state: A model in search of class interests.” See also.): Instittitions and Economic Developiterit. (eds. 1997. Bryant and Edmund Mokrzycki (eds.32. 1996. Etherington et al. A. eds. 1956. Institzrtions. 4 Thomas A. Jhnos Kis. 6 North: Institutions. 1990. 9. in Csaba Gombh et al. 132-33. “The new institutionalism in political science and sociology. “The New Institutional Economics and Economic Development” in Christopher Clague (ed. and Political Sticcession. sziznd \@gin. Budapest: Collegium Budapest. 6.231-243.” in Christopher C. “. 9 Jon Elster “Introduction” in J. Boulder: Social Science Monographs.” Zygmunt Bauman. James f G.): Institutions and Democratic Statecraft Boulder: Westview Press.1995. Collegium Budapest.” Polity 38.

“The Roundtable Talks in Poland. 1995. 1991.” in Jon Elster (ed. 1996. 409-439.1989. 1994. Peter Schmidt: A szocialista rendszer ks az allamiscig (Socialist system and statehood). Hungary’s constitution-onceptual framework). and normative legal theory-are totally overlooked. 24. Peter Sindor and L&A6 Vass (eds. at best.): Magyarorszhg Politikai . 14 Robert H.699-796. Gyorgy Szoboszlai: Allamisag b politih-ai rendszer (Statehood and political system) Budapest: Kossuth. national liberalism.257-282. 3. see GCza KilCnyi (ed.2169. moral philosophy. 23 See Milos Calda. 1991. 101136. 1987. 15 On “leveraged buyouts” as techniques of within-system change.. 1988.jogpolitika (Economic. 280-281. Wolchik: Czechoslovakia in Transition: Politics. T’he State Against Society. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 19 To an astonishing degree.szervezetrendszer. in LBszl6 Soos (ed. in Shndor Kurth. administrative and legal policy) Budapest: Kossuth. 1960).??vk6nyve. 1988 (Hungarian Political Yearbook. vol. HSWP in January-February 1989. (KisCrlet Magyarorsdg ~j Alkotmhyhak megalkothhra.” Politics andsociety. 1995. For a full documentary account of the reform socialist project. 13577. 1 Budapest: Magyar Orszhgos LevClthr. and I s t v h Kukorelli: Az alkotmunyozus htizede (Decade of constitution-making) Budapest: Korona. 1993. 1989).. at least five should be mentioned. 20 cf: Grzegorz Ekiert. Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party.): A Magvar Szocialista Munkzisphrt Kozponti Bizottsdgcinak 1989. 1989. 1988. no. . on the works of neo. Budapest: Kossuth. See also Sharon L. Magyarorszhg Akotmanya-Szabhlyozhsi Koncepci6” (Ministry of Justice. and Bartlomiej Kaminski: The Collapse ofstate Socialism Princeton: Princeton University Press. “Hungary’s Road to Systemic Change: The Opposition Roundtable” in KiAy and Bozbki. 1991. Politikai rendszer i s szocialista demokracia (Political system and socialist democracy) (Budapest: ELTE. New York: Pinter.): Roundtable Talks. and middle-class radicalism-let alone seminal works on public law. 1988-1 990) (Preparatory documents for a constitution.Riidolf L. 13 The best English language account to date of the roundtable process is by AnMs Bozoki. 2. 25 Calda. first to the Politburo. Rich traditions of nineteenth and twentieth century conservatism. “The Roundtable Talks in Czechoslovakia. 1985). see T 6 k k Hungary’s Negotiated . 21 See Wiktor Osiatynski. Khlmhn Kulcsk: Kit vilag kiiziitt (Between two worlds) Budapest: AkadCmiai JSiad6. 3 13-330. Western academic writings on the intellectual genesis of dissident and reform ideas in Hungary focus exclusively on the contributions of the “democratic opposition” or.. tvi jegvzb’kt3nyvei (Central Committee. Economics and Society. Bates: “Contra Contractarianism: Some Reflections on the New Institutionalism. Lawful Revolution. Christian democracy. 6 1-92. See “Az IgazsagUgyi MinisztCrium.and post-Marxist sociologists. Tamhs Shrkozy: Gazdascigpolitika. 74-76. AJTK. 16 “Az Cj politidl6 szervezetek dokumentumai” (Documents of new political organizations).. 22Bartlomiej Kaminski: “Systemic Underpinnings of the Transition in Poland: The Shadows of the Roundtable Agreement. Tb’kis:Institution Building in Hungary 135 12 Harold Laswell: Psychopathology and Politics (New York: Viking Press. No. An attempt to craA Hungary’s new constitution) Budapest: Allamtudomhyi Kutat6kozpont.” Studies in Comparative Communism Vol. 1991. iai 17 From a very long list of writings on these subjects. HPYB hereafter) Budapest: R-Forma Kiad6.): The Roundtable Talks f and the Breakdown o Communism.387.” Studies in Comparative Commuiiism. 18 Cf. It is odd because most of the Opposition Roundtable negotiators were neither urban radicals nor post-Marxists... 16. then to the Central Committee. 157. pp.): Egy alkotmcin-v-elokiszitts dokumentumai. Vol. 24 Vladimir Hanzel: Ztychleny rep dejn (The accelerated heartbeat of history) Prague: OK Centrum.” in Elster (ed. but adherents of indigenous ideas of institutional reform and political emancipation. 1991. The crowning achievement of the regime’s internal reform forces was the annotated text of a revised constitution submitted by the Ministry of Justice. 24. Roundtable Talks. 173-190... 1984... Stenographic Minutes. Mihily B h r . in Elster. Michael Bemhard: “Reinterpreting Solidarity. 1991.

M h Elbert.678-690. 362-364.. 267.): A Rendszei-valtas Forgathkonyve. “Mi van a demokrhcia csomagtervben?’ (What is i the democracy package?). 22. (eds. f 53 Ibid.. Magyar Orszigos LevCltAr.. “The Political Consequences of Electoral Laws in the 1990 Hungarian Elections. . 1998. 332-47. GO TokCs: Hungary’s Negotiated. 1997.. 39. 1999. 48 See.4. 28 TokCs...): Legislation o the Hungarian Parliament. 1989.. (Scenarios for the change of the regime.: Sustainable Democracy Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 26ff. 59 Cf. 4 18. Gabel... 33 Sobs. in GyBrgy Szoboszlai (ed.) 32 Text in KilCnyi (ed. 27.. 37. 1990) Budapest: Timadalomtudomhnyi IntCzet. 1989).. 161.. 1990. S2 Text in Gyorgy Szabad: Legislation o the Hungarian . 36 Sobs. 288 f4/250 (February 10-11. Vol.): “Egy alkotmiiny-elokCszitCs”103-1 94. 417. Car! Beck Papers in Russian and East European Studies. 57 Ibid. 39 See Gyorgy Szabad (ed. Andris Bozbki (editor-in-chief). (ed. Buf dapest: Hungarian Parliament. May 5 .... 16. (Hungarian National Archives).. 408. 56 Ibid. 40 Ibid. 34 Offe.136 The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f 26 Ibid. Budapest: Uj Mandhtum. Hungaiy ’s Negotiated. TokCs: Murmurs and Wiispers: Public Opinion and Legitimacy Crisis in Hungary. 1. Rudolf L. 65. 58 Adam Przeworski et a!. 3 1 See. 1993. Melinda Kalrnhr. 35 Cf. 49 For test of Act XXXIV of 1989.. 2 January 1995.) 8-14.. No. 1990. 1990 (Parliamentary elections. Budapest. 12-16. 4 1 Test in Constitutional and Legislative Policy Institute (ed. DesigningInstitutions.): Purlamenti vdasztisok. 37 Ibid. 1992... 43 Jon Elster.. HPYB.254-264.” Social Philosophy and Policy Vol. 2. National Roundtable negotiations in 1989) 8 vols. (4 vols.334-336.63.. 23-32.52-55. 10-13. 142.. 10..” East European Constitutional Review. See also 33-44.42. 17. f 50 Cf. 5 .. BCla RCvesz. 44 Ibid. “The Role of Institutional Interests in East European Constitution-Making.. May 2-December 31 1990. 42 Andrhs KorosCnyi: A rnagvar politikai rendszer (The Hungarian political system) Budapest: Osiris. KilCnyi. 27 Ibid. Vol.. Winter 1996. 5S John Gray: “From Post-Communism to Civil Society: The Reemergence of History and the Decline of the Western Model. 1996.. 1993.. n 1988. 15 1-164.. 29 Beszdfi. 14-15.. 54 DiMaggio and Powell: New Institutionalism. EmCbet Ripp and Zolthn Ripp. Vols.. 46 ffe.. 155. Kerekusztal-thrgyalasok 1989-ben. 45 Cf. Budapest: Magveto. 415. No. 47 Ibid. No. 30 Ptter Szalay.. S 1 Text in Magvar Hirlap. A Magyar Szocialista Munkdsphrt.” Comparative Politics.. see Gyorgy Szabad: Legislation o the Hungarian ..205-214. 38 Ibid. Designing Institutions. 1972-1989. KorosCnyi: A magyarpolitikai . TokCs: HunganJ’s Negotiated. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsbw&. 1999-2000. (Budapest) September 26. 1995..141-142.. A Magyar Szocialista Mimkhspcirt .): Alkotrnunyos elvek b esetek (ConstitutionalPrinciples and Cases) Budapest: COLPI...36.. Gyorgy Szoboszlai: “Valaszkisi rendszer C politikai tagoltshg” (Electoral system and political s cleavages). 381. See also Matthew J. 1G-18... See also.

First Secretary of the MSZMPl Introduction This chapter describes the formulation of the “Party Law”.~ reform was major. narrowed down. on the centenary of the Hungarian Revolution and of the Freedom and Independence War of 1848-1849. and the hope of consolidating the revolution’s achievements was shattered. s Janos Kadar. 1956. The state party-first known as the MDP but renamed on October 31st. eliminated in a few days with the help of the intervening Soviet troops.Beyond the One-party System: The Debate on “The Party Law” kddm Mnsdt In Hungary a one-party system has been introduced historically. but obviously the origiThe nal function of the legal institution could not succeed in a one-party system. Prime Minister Imre Nagy announced on radio the banning of the one-party system? Political pluralism was. and ii i going to stay that way. It . the ideas of freedom and equality were radically reinterpreted. The last election law3 before the fall of the communist regimeand the introduction of the national list-made it obligatory to nominate two candidates in each con~tituency. The basis of the one-party leadership was established in Hungary by the foundation of the Hungarian Workers’ Party (MDP) in July 1948. originally defined by the French Revolution. revealing the achievements of the I/2 Working Committee in the political negotiations of the Hungarian National Roundtable Talks of 1989. The destabilization and disintegration of the regime started in the second half of the 1980s. and then abolished by the exponents of the emerging communist party rule. however. On October 30th 1956. This Committee. In 1948. as the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party (MSZMP)-kept its monopolistic power until the end of the Kadhr regime in the late 1980s. The communist regime and the one-party system were restored at the same time. its slogans. the banning of other parties and the establishment of the infamous State Defense Authority (AVH). after four decades of dictatorship and one-party rule.worked out the details of the restoration of a multi-party system. only the revolution of 1956 provided a brief interruption.

the rule of law. and of a Constitutional state. Two and half years later the MDF. finally.I5 The national conference of the MSZMP in May.5 Although.’ by the foundation of the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) when the participants founded a political movement. The democratic opposition. “delayed” introduction. since the development of pluralism is not blocked by the one-party system. Foi-dzht 6s Reform [Turnabout and Reform]l 2 drawn up by radical reformist economists soon had its “political pair”. and. after the election in 1985 63 per cent of representatives were newly elected. l 4 By the end of the 1980s there was a clear need within society to abandon the forty year-old monopoly of power. but also emphasising the necessity of a gradual. the “party opposition” reform wing had been formulating a strong claim for pluralism since 1986. 2.16 The democratisation of the political system was thought achievable within the framework of the one-party system. The renewed criticism advanced by the 13th Party Congress of March 25th-28th. but only by its “dysfunction”. nevertheless. The latter text declared the need for democratic socialism and. It became obvious that real change could only be achieved by the declaration of a multi-party system and by free elections which were based on it. at the September. 75 per cent were party members. Mihhly Bihari. calling for a multiparty-system. only the freedom of choice between the people. declared the need for a so-called “socialist pluralism” based on “the leading role of the communist party”. 1988. it acknowledged the political leadership of the communist party. won the free elections of 1990 and defeated the autocratic MSZMP. 1988.17 It was announced several times. but multi-candidate. It became clear from that year onwards that the regime could not be further reformed. Parliamentary elections in the embodiment of stability. The results of the non-democratic. This was basically a claim for the introduction of a multi-party ~ystern. Reform 6s demohhcia [Reform and Democracy] drawn up by the political scientist. The deepening crisis was marked by the following political events: 1. 1985. it wished only to maintain the one-party system.6 Students of the KQdBr-regimeall agree that the systemic crisis became more or less obvious by 1985. meeting in Lakitelek. The political dispute among the various opposition groups at the meeting in Monor on the 14th-16th of June of the same year. and by the 8th Congress of the HNF.I3 In the second half of 1988 Bihari reformulated his proclamation more strongly. 3. the “national-populist” (nkpi) trend. entitled the Thrsadahi Szerz6d6s [Social Contract].138 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Dentoeracy did not offer a real political alternative. as a party.~ Members of the Monor meeting only touched on the “taboo” question of the one-party system. candidates had to accept the election program of the Patriotic People’s Front (HNF).’ Two years later.” The economic reform program. declared firstly the necessity of removing the party leader. even at the meetings of the Central Committee in February.’* The party leadership refused to accept the immediate introduction of a multi- ..” Although the 1987 program of the democratic opposition. that the one-party system itself does not exclude the concepts of democracy. 1985. at the same time. 1987. much stronger criticism was formulated. JQnos KQdQr.

could be preserved and that elections involving genuine competition would be held only in 1995. that the communist party should claim this social compromise as “the basis for negotiations.2’ Act I1 of 1989 regarding the right of free association was announced and came into force on January 24th. the latter opening the way to proposals which the MSZMP made. the “one-party pluralism”. for its future mandate”.l9 Most of the members of the MSZMP Politburo in 1988 believed that sham pluralism. He added. This meant. 1989.25although the regulation of party activities was to be covered by another law. that the law on the right of association “did not exclude party foundation.22These political tactics resulted in the maintenance of power in society and in the transfer of property and assets. 1989. but these in no way halted the ongoing process of “managerial pri~atization”?~ political proThe posals mainly involved the presidential position of Imre Pozsgay. in the narrow interpretation of the MSZMP. The reasoning was almost invariably the same: “the country is not ready” for its introduction. during the trilateral meetings. The MSZMP’s Central Committee had to accept the introduction of a multi-party system during its congress on February 10th-11 th. the secretary-general.let’s not object to a multi-party system. although until the fomulation of the new law there could be no legal background to the foundation of . namely that entry into the National Roundtable (where the MSZMP had no privileged position) could be achieved by means of a declaration of a multi-party system. in exchange. and it is very likely that.*’ In the first few months of 1989 events in foreign and domestic politics forced the MSZMP to take positive steps to dismantle the one-party system. mainly behind the scenes.Adam Masut: Beyond the One-parry System 139 party system. offered an interesting interpretation of this thinking: his remarks indicated another political maneuver. At that point KAroly Grbsz.”~’ During one meeting one of the leaders of the League of Communist Youth (KISZ). but let’s think over how the shaping of the multi-party system can be influenced and what we should do to maintain the leading position of the MSZMP in the multi-party ~ystem. in a somewhat contradictory way. the position of the new President. This should contain such crucial institutional powers as decisions in respect of the conditions for elections. and so on.. the MSZMP offered the opposition the party’s withdrawal from the work-place.. the “threat exists that the process will become destabilizing and uncontrollable”. and allowed the parties to be established. briefly laid out the MSZMP’s tactics to be followed in 1989: “. Imre Nagy. and the concept of “socialistic pluralism” began to fade. the reform communist Minister of State. Revelations concerning some transfers of property and assets during the socalled “spontaneous privatization” were usually effective.

34A modified version of the Party Law appeared in the newspaper Magyar Nemzet on May 18th. with the comment that social organizations should forward their comments and remarks to the government-founded Secretariat for the Codification of the New Constitution [ AIkotmany-eZok&szitoKodifikdc ids Titkrirsdg] no 1ater than April 29th.140 The Roirndtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy The Stabilization of the Unity of the Opposition Roundtable The MSZMP has its forty years o tradition f and it will not change thisfrom one day to the next. Gyorgy Fejti. Parliament originally planed to discuss the Party Law in September. 1989. when the opposition merged by the creation of Opposition Roundtable (EKA) and became an institutionalized political power. The Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) expressed its dissatisfaction that the government wanted to continue the “usual”. The first item on the agenda of this meeting was a discussion of Party Law and the party regulation~. Firstly. where they could select the guests.~’ EKA decided at its April 7th meeting not to take part in the forum. which represented a step backwards when compared to the earlier one.3sThe second draft version contained variations of certain articles and paragraphs: it made the formation of new parties easier and set restrictions on party organizations in the work-place. that the major draft laws (on the Constitution. Party Law and electoral law) could not be presented to Parliament. “optional” discussions of Party Law and was unwilling to place it on the agenda for political discussions between the EKA and the MSZMP. consensual decision-making. since they had not been debated by the new parties and by the revived historical parties?’ Their objective was to organize consultative meetings.” The leadership of the party quickly understood that the declaration of the multi-party system also meant. One of the main issues in the EKA’s notion of talks was the formation and operation of parties-addressed to the MSZMP’s Central Committee-on April 19th.32The draft of the new Party Law appeared in the daily press on the same day. at the same time. The since one of its members-the Federation of Young Democrats (Fiatal Demokratcik SzSvets&e)-was not invited. the MSZMP’s Central Committee tried to organize a political conciliation forum. The Working Committee dealing with the law worked on the basis of the draft of May 29th.31This absence was very decisive. became compulsory. member of the MSZMP Central Committee27 The exclusive power of the state party suffered its first major “attack”. since the unity of the EKA and its major characteristic. which the MSZMP could not accept. to which the five member organizations of the EKA were invited.36 the but MSZMP’s Central Committee urged the government to submit the issue to Par- . $rst of all since strch changes would be totul[v disadvantugeoiisand came a discriminative situation.33 Several organizations objected to the 10-day-deadline.

which involved acknowledgement of the so-called “Third Side’s” full rights at the negotiation^. Parliament. and hoping to improve their negotiating position. in fact ensured that agreement would be reached before the reburial: “As a matter of fact. the legislative schedule earlier agreed upon may change. in return the MSZMP representatives answered in the following terms: “The representatives of the MSZMP would indicate. at the end of June.38 In the background to all of this lay the re-interment of Imre Nagy. As a result. proving the seriousness of the state party’s new 0penness. representing the EKA. Parliament-along with other basic legislationwould put this draft law on Party Regulation on the agenda. I still don’t think that we should force the discussion of these four topics in Parliament on the 27th: we should continue the work cautiously. quickly.41During these preparatory talks Pkter Tolgyessy (SZDSZ). The legislative process cannot precede political agreement.40 a by threat that. but in return it had to compromise on three topics. objected. It was quite obvious that no agreement would be reached before that time. it was also in the interest of the MSZMP to start negotiations before June 16th. Negotiations on economic issues45and 3. then Parliament would start its summer break and would only start the discussions in autumn. and Liszl6 S6lyom (MDF). Rather apprehensive on this score. Trilateral negotiations.”47 .^^ 2. during its session starting on June 27th. had.4~The EKA partly succeeded in fulfilling its April 19th concept (modified at the beginning of June) concerning political questions. exhaustively-but.” 42 Therefore. the MSZMP was keen to reach an agreement on the start of “effective negotiations’’ before the re-intem~ent. of course. all of whom were executed after 1956. I would like to inform you that the organizations believe that Parliament is going to discuss these issues on the 27th and so they are ready for talks rapidly on these four topics. Agreement before the re-interment of Imre Nagy. in case effective negotiations should start in time.37During the reconciliation talks in preparation for the trilateral meetings it became clear that if “effective negotiations were to begin” and if no agreement could be reached before June 27th.~’ During preparatory talks for the negotiations the EKA representatives were “blackmailed’9. 1. then.46 At the Central Committee meeting on June 13th Gyorgy Fejti expressed clearly his view that the MSZMP. wished to pass the draft Bill on Party Law. that. Prime Minister during the 1956 revolution. should they not reach an agreement before the start of the negotiations. 1989. by raising the issue of the possible submission of the draft laws to Parliament. and his fellow martyrs. there are four draft laws under preparation.Adam Masd: Beyond the One-party Svstem 141 liament earlier. The top leadership of the Party hoped that the start of negotiations would calm that sector of the public concerned about political issues and would also give a signal to the West. The consultation stage for these four draA laws can begin immediately.

~~ ing and financing of parties meant the formulation of a “Party Law”. he was quite irreplaceable in the I/2 Committee. took part in the EKA meetings from May 24th. The Committee was also responsible for two political questions: party organizations in the work-place and the detailed account of its property and assets holding to be drawn up by the MSZMP. or not? J6zsef Antall (MDF). the MSZMP accepted the withdrawal of the submission of the draft laws. took part in the work of three Committees.142 The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy f During the preparatory meeting for the plenary session on June 21. (SZDSZ for the Opposition Roundtable) and Edit Roder (HNF.48All difficulties were thus overcome and so the National Roundtable negotiations could begin. (MSZMP). a fellow party .5‘ The negotiating delegation of the MSZMP had three origins.^' The Committee’s brief did not extend to party administration. but also in the meetings of the Intermediate Level Committee.” The EKA’s point of view from the very beginning was that the Party Law should only regulate functioning and financing. In addition to his involvement in I/1 and 113 Working Committees. Tibor Bogdiin. delegate at the National Roundtable49 The June 21st agreement on the topics for the talks’ and the work-plan defines the I/2 Working Committee in the following terms: “legal regulation of the functioning of political par tie^". The Formation of the Working Committee for the Preparation of the Party Law We always think o the MSZMF. Miityhs Budzsiklia was at that time deputy Head of Department at the Central Committee. for the Third Side). 1989-at the request of Bhlint Magyar. since the right to form a party should be covered by the Bill on A s s ~ c i a t i o nThe regulation of function. although at that time almost all of the organizations functioning as parties understood that the way to equality was through the regulation of party financing. deputy Head of Department at the Ministry of Justice. as he played the major part in the preparation of the draft Party Law. 1989. Iv6. and so this was mainly legislative work.54 The three most prominent participants in the Working Committee were Mhtyiis Budzsiiklia. He represented the party headquarters not only on 1/2 Committee.n Peto. The EKA decided on the people it would delegate to the Committee on June 28th. The minutes of 12 meetings of the I/2 professional Working Committee (or sub-Committee) are available.s6 Ivin Pet0 (SZDSZ).s3 The EKA could not achieve any results on these issues until the signing of the agreement on September 18th. f Will there be otherparties. plus the related issue of party financing during the transition period. historian and archivist.

in August. The fact that the EKA and the Third Side were mainly of the same opinion concerning the matters in dispute with the MSZMP made the talks easier. the I/2. 1989. when the final draft law covering the functioning and administration of political parties was formulated very rapidly. BCla Rabi. did not develop. this may have been due to her membership status at Council of Constitutional Law [Alkotmhyjogi Tandcs]. This was very different from the other Working Committees. This is a separate chapter in the political history of 1989. where as “the satellite” of the MSZMP. according to her the regulatory work of the parties was “a greater challenge” for her than Constitutional work. and took part in the Intermediate Level talks and plenary meetings of the trilateral talks.Adam Masat: Beyond the One-party System 143 member-and later in the Intermediate Level negotiating Committee. too. such as the 1/4 Working Committee became. The work of the Committee stopped for weeks. the I/3 and the II/4 Working Committees. when the representative of the MSZMP announced that the state party was unwilling to render an account of its property and assets holding. the MSZMP’s property and assets account and party organization in the work-place). In the first proposal forwarded to the presidency Roder was mentioned as delegated person to the I/1 Working Committee. In April. . Some questions remained open after the September 18th agreement (party financing. One of the members was Edit Roder. most members of the I/2 Committee did not know each other personally and a professional homogeneous organization. Balhzs Horvhth’s role (MDF). since the MSZMP was still unwilling to revert to its position of July 24th. which came to a close in the so-called “Four Yes” referendum. the Third Side made negotiations between the EKA and MSZMP more difficult. Roder following her own request became member of I/2 Committee. 1989. The first ended on July 26th. that she was engaged in previ~usly. There are three distinct periods in the history of the 112 Working Committee in the creation of the “Party Law”. The third period was the period of negotiations from late August until the agreement was signed on September 18th. 1989.’~ Roder also represented the Third Side in the so-called Goodwill Committee [JbszolgrilntiBizottsbg]. was an active member of the I/1. The National Council of the HNF elected a presidency with 20 members. In general. several attempts were made to resume negotiations-unsuccessfully. a lawyer from Veszprkm (later Minister of the Interior in the Antall government). also from the Third Side. is important since he reported on the work of the Committee-obviously with Ivhn Pet&at EKA meetings and in the Intermediate Level negotiations. In the second period.

that it was necessary to know the property and assets holdings of all organizations for the negotiation of the draft law. The representatives of three parties agreed on the principles of the negotiations. from the Ministry of Justice. however. The representatives of the EKA and the Third Side proposed that political parties should not be formed or have a local branch in places of work. 1989. agreement was reached on the topic of how to modify the MSZMP’s earlier draft law (on political parties). During this meeting the parties also agreed on the following: a political party may be founded by a minimum of 10 persons the founders and officials of a political party must be Hungarian citizens62 practicing and Constitutional judges may not be members of any party63 they propose to the 1 1 Working Committee the following draft for inclusion 1 in the proposed Modifications to the Constitution: “The program and activities of any social organization may not be aimed at acquiring or utilizing power by violent means. and may not be used to incite citizens against the Constitution and the Constitutional law. we can restore the one-party system: later on we can stop the parties. the negotiating parties agreed that Party Law should cover social organizations with private membership. or to such an exclusive degree which causes other parties to terminate. definite results were achieved. 1989. which did not differ from the other Committees’ rules of procedure. secretary-general. and that. at the time . The EKA and the Third Side made it clear.MSZMP58 The I/2 Working Committee held its first meeting on June 30th. Delegates from the MSZMP disagreed with this and asked for further discussion of the topic during the coming meetings. The negotiating parties agreed that Constitutional supervision of party formation and party activities should be regulated by the Constitution and the Law on the Right of Association.”64 ‘’ In the third meeting.60 In the second meeting. the first major disagreements appeared. on July loth. These two negotiating parties proposed that they should be informed in detail about the distribution of state funds among social and political organizations.Gs In the meeting on July 17th. (MSZMP). This is the perspective of social development. on July 5th. On the other hand. promised during these meetings that he was going to provide the negotiating parties with the necessary information from the Ministry in respect of the elaboration of the Party Law. The negotiators also decided what should be regulated in the Constitution and in the electoral law.59 Tibor BogdBn.144 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy The Start of Negotiations By the time it will befinished. The three negotiating parties agreed that part of the regulations would be included in the law on the Right of Association and another part-relating to party operation and administration-in a separate law. or limit their activity. Karoly Grbsz.

the interests of the employees would be damaged vis-&vis those of the employers. but that employees from the same workplace could be members of the same organization after working hours in their place of work. but that information should also be disclosed about the participating organizations’ support to other organisations. she remarked that they were willing to disclose data. on July 24th. The 4th and 5th sections were mainly listed on the agenda of the meeting since EKA was proposing several modifications in these sections.Adkm Masat: Beyond the One-party System 145 of the public announcement of their registration. was not willing to disclose data.6* Representatives of three negotiating parties agreed at the same time that a party could not be formed in a place of work and could not function there. it wished to retain 680m Hungarian Forints. Edit Roder announced in the meeting on July 19th that the National Council of Trade Unions (SZOT). to safeguard workers’ interests.67 Agreement was reached that non-Hungarian citizens might be party members. she stated that it had disclosed its budget in 1989. mainly during this meeting. The MSZMP partly and the Opposition Roundtable could not agree hlly with the reasoning. and about the “value of their work for society”. The MSZMP and the Third Side-referring to the lack of competence concerning property and assets division and financing questions-proposed further discussion of the topic by the Intermediate Level negotiating Committee!’ In the July 21st meeting.66At the same time it was proposed that. In the next meeting. the 112 Committee agreed on the issues concerning the dissolution of parties. but could not have the right to propose a candidate or to vote within the party. explaining that parties could not function in workplaces. The EKA was unsuccessful in having the word poZiticaZ omitted from the whole text of the law. and distribute lOOm HUF among different child and youth organizations. then that organization’s registration as a party would be cancelled. The delegates of the MSZMP asked that explanatory notes should be included in the standard wording. in that case. The negotiating parties agreed on four issues concerning administration in the parties. In connection with the Patriotic People’s Front. Neither the EKA nor the Third Side representatives thought at that time that there could be any retreat. the organizations must acknowledge their acceptance of the law concerning political party activity and administration. if a party did not have at least one Member elected to Parliament in two successive Parliamentary elections. negotiations continued concerning the wording of the draft law. The EKA maintained its opinion that “those parties participating in the meetings are aware that they will have to render an account of their property and assets”. 1989. . on the further discussion of property and assets valuation and property and assets division by the Intermediate Level negotiating Committee. The negotiating parties formulated their proposal. they hoped that negotiations at intermediate-level would bring about some improvement and would allow the points of view of the negotiating parties to converge. Demisz). since. Concerning the successor organization to the League of Communist Youth (formerly the KISZ and from April. on the contrary.

. Ivan Peto. the draft law proposal would be formulated. Change in Negotiating Tactics of the MSZMP We believe that none of the forums of the trilateral meetings is entitled to demand that ihe MSZMP render ail account o its property arid assets holdings. Both explained that the content of the memorandum presented by Mhtyas Budzsaklia was contrary to the MSZMP’s earlier position. Ms Roder argued for the “communizing” of the property and assets of the state party. but also that it was unwilling to support other new parties and social organizations during the transition period. the Memorandum which contained the answers to the Minutes of July 5th. owned 168 headquarters (office) buildings.. member of MSZMP PB71 On July 26th an unexpected development occurred. Gyorgy Fejti. As representative of the EKA. 20 educational institutions and 20 publishing houses. Mr Pet0 repeated the basic principle. It contained all topics discussed on which agreement had been reached in the meetings. f or to give ordersfor the redistributioii of the property and assets. One could see from the document that the MSZMP. 90 holiday resorts.70Tibor Bogdan prepared the minutes according to the agreement of July 21st.146 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy On the same day the MSZMP delegation handed over.72 . that the political changes should not produce extra costs for society. which was to be enclosed in the proposal addressed to the Intermediate Level negotiating Committee. the MSZMP acquired its property and assets-wer the last four and half decadeslegally and so it is liable to render an account only to its members and it is under no legal obligation to do so to other parties or social organizations. unofficially. Edit Roder expressed as her view of the situation that it could block the reaching of an agreement. Ivhn Pet0 announced that the EKA believed that it was pointless to continue the work of the Conunittee unless the MSZMP changed its position. reacted to this radical change in the MSZMP’s standpoint. 2 research institutes. One might readily suppose that the work of the Committee would continue successfully. amongst other things. 34 educational establishments. Mhtyhs Budzsiiklia announced that he was not going to sign the proposal but would add the following to the MSZMP’s stated view: . In this announcement the MSZMP not only stated that it was only willing to render an account of its “legally acquired property and assets” to its members. It seemed that the MSZMP was willing to render an account of its property and assets holdings and that agreement could be reached on issues of financing in the transitional period and that. in a short period of time. and Edit Roder from the Third Side.

in fact. it was obvious that no-one other than Gyorgy Fejti” could have formulated these words. It would. Most of the marked data is available to the public in the hciemoraitdiint. Following this-after his second speech-he made it clear that there was no close connection between the financial status of the MSZMP and the mode of operation of the political parties. or by Tibor BogdQn.*’ A new attitude developed unknown to the members of the MSZMP delegation preparing for the meeting of Intermediate-level Political Committee on the 27th of July. or with other foreign or domestic political affairs.Adhm Mashit: Beyond the One-partySystem 147 The leaders of the MSZMP had obviously changed their view in this respect. He accepted the principle that the building of an infrastructure for the parties should not involve extra costs. A few days earlier. a party should render an account of its property and assets.78 Clear proof of it lies in the property and asset account which the MSZMP delegation handed out just two days before the negotiations on the 26th of July. a pretence of goodwill and a dedication to change. the MSZMP’s negotiating group had made the following statement: In its view the presentation of the requested data cannot block the start of negotiations concerning the wording of the draft law. and from the documentation. 2. Moreover. in the July 19th meeting. but he arrogated the right of the MSZMP to decide on the level of backing offered to other parties and organizations. tempered by apparent flexibility.73 In the meeting of Intermediate Level Political Committee of July 27 IvBn Pet0 from the EKA reported on the day’s happening^. He believed that the forums of the trilateral negotiations were not entitled to request such an account from the MSZMP and to decide on re-distribution of the property. 1. that there was no radical change in their point of view but that this was merely made clearer. that. It is quite possible that Fejti changed his approach after he was informed about the handing over of a document by the MSZMP delegation. and so the MSZMP’s negotiating group does not refbse to answer.76 Obviously Fejti wanted to display firmness.^^ NBndor Bugiir gave a speech on behalf of the Third Side. which represented a retreat from the earlier viewpoint presented by Edit Roder?s In his answer Gyorgy Fejti made it clear that the MSZMP was willing to hand over its account of property and assets to the relevant court of justice. It is clear that the MSZMP leadership changed its attitude on this issue. Excluding all the others.77 In the Intermediate Level talks of July 27th the parties reached no further agreement on the issue of why the talks of the Working Conunittee had stopped.79 The change is not connected with the visit of Rezso Nyers and KQrolyGrbsz to Moscow on the 24th-25th of July. prior to registration. This is quite . and it was only rejecting the Committee as the competent forum. be profitable to halt briefly here in order to examine the July change from a different viewpoint. All the signs suggest that it was “someone’s own opinion”. it believes that the Party Law should provide. In the meeting of the Committee the MSZMP had been willing to render an account of its property and assets.

and for that reason Fejti would take over as head of the delegati~n. 2.’~ Pozsgay traveled to Yugoslavia after the visit by George Bush-for a summer vacation in Istria. Gyorgy Fejti represented the counterpart to Imre Pozsgay at the meeti n g ~ .148 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f insignificant since.’~ July 6th Pozsgay said. his reservations about activities related to the conversion of political power into economic capital. in a meeting of the InterOn mediate Level Political Committee. rigorous” Fejti should lead the delegation instead of more accommodating Pozsgay. supposedly. ’Although our written sources are limited. but it is worth noting that it was in the interests of the MSZMP to argue in favor of finishing the talks and submitting the draft bill. His candidacy for the Presidency. They criticized Pozsgay several times for making announcements on topics without auth~rization. who had informal connections with some members of the opposition. The party apparatus was of the same opinion also. we know that Khroly Gr6sz and ~ Gyogy Fejti discussed several topics together and did not inform Pozsgay about them. Pozsgay also stated later that he had wanted to preserve his own political capital in the contest to become head of ~tate. had left the political arena for a month during the most important period of political debates simply to go on holiday?” 4. Pozsgay gave two reasons for his leaving the party: 1. that Fejti was to continue the negotiations in a different way from Pozsgay to date. Let us take a closer look at the reasons. Gr6sz obviously could see that the “uncompromising. debates. something which was widely practised among the “smarter” members of the MSZMP.** 3. since it wanted to gain time in order to preserve as much as possible. but he rejected the criticism of the opposition that the party leadership had left him out of the negotiations for tactical reasons. that he would go on holiday. which could have damaged his reputation within the party leadership or amongst the opposition. in the so-called “White House”.86In the central headquarter of the MSZMP. Pozsgay was freed from the problem of these most sensitive. in this way using tactics which would postpone delicate issues such as accounting for the party’s property and assets.” Is it possible that one of Hungary’s most popular political figures (with good connections with the opposition representatives). The Central Committee itself supported rendering an account of the property and assets to party members. That is .90 It is not very likely that a political figure competing for the position of Head of State would go on holiday for a four-week period since his absence from the political scene could damage his popularity. possibly compromising. most of the members within the MSZMP agreed with him. it became obvious during the meeting organized for the negotiating delegation of the state party. the Head of State-in-waiting. The only exception might occur if it would be clearly disadvantageous for the politician to become involved in some political dispute. Pozsgay later admitted that he wanted to be away from the negotiations.’~ There is very little proof of party property and assets being spirited away. but the MSZMP’s Political Executive Committee wished to indulge in a cover-up when it transpired that the MSZMP had paid no taxes on some of its enterprises until January 1989.

without examining the validity of any request. just as for Gr6sz and for the party apparatus which supported Fejti’s leadership. The “losers” were the negotiating parties: Fejti. The terms and conditions of the MSZMP were not acceptable to the other two negotiating parties. according to the earlier rides. even ifthere are doubts about it in the movement. we gained it that way. We will give a clear and direct answer. The member organizations of the EKA described the amount . The meeting of the Working Committee ended without result on August 21st.97The Goodwill Committee of the National Roundtable Talks agreed at its July 21st meeting that the account should be frozen until the terms and conditions of the transfer were clearly laid down. 5. could hardly achieve anything. who failed at an early point and the opposition which. Pozsgay was not telling the truth when he said that. Kiroly Gr6sz. we have not stolen or collected anything. had already transferred considerable sums to organizations asking for funds. it would have caused him uncomfortable problems. Over 10m Forints were transferred in this way. the MSZMP’s secretary-general94 The I/2 Committee stopped working for over three weeks. and the need for showing the party’s true colors. “his acceptation had failed and that he had to continue the negotiations”. Prime Minister Mikl6s NCmeth indicated that the government was working on a proposition to support financially the formation of new ~arties. The EKA and the Third Side confirmed their statements of July 26: it would only make sense to continue talks if the MSZMP returned to its position of July 24. The holiday in Istria was favorable for Pozsgay. if he had taken part in the debates. In the Parliamentary meeting of May loth. based on earlier propositions.Adam Masat: Beyond the One-party System 149 why Pozsgay thought that. in the exchange of roles the deciding factor was not the opposition’s “stubbornness”-as Pozsgay suggested in his criticism of oppo~ition’~-but the struggling reformer Pozsgay between the opposition and the state party.’* He stated clearly before his departure that there was no need to stop the negotiations whilst he was The Negotiations Continue So n y dear comrades we will have to put an end to this property and assets thing. On August 18th the MSZMP sent its negotiating terms and conditions to the EKA and to representatives of the Third Side. Based on these facts. due to Fejti’s inflexible determination. It transpired that the person appointed by the Cabinet had.9~ early July it was announced that the In amount of this financial backing would be 50m Forint~. In mid-August Gyorgy Szilviisy (MSZMP) indicated the EKA’s intention to continue the interrupted negotiations.’~ the July 2 1st meetAt ing of the EKA Ivin Pet0 proposed that the account should be frozen since a proposal on its distribution and use had not yet been finalized.

that he disagreed with the banning of the party from factories and work-places but accepted that they should not be built into the man- . According to this.102 The day after the Intermediate Level talks. These questions were discussed in the Intermediate Level meeting of August 28th. for reasons of honesty let’s stick to the point. and the MSZMP donated property to a value of 2. “a little”. from other work-places no later than July 1st. that the state party should withdraw from the courts of justice no later than the date when the new Party Law was to come into force: 1. the Working Committee meeting produced some results on the issue of party financing. and for this purpose Parliament would seem to be the most suitable organization. as a compromise. Therefore. that the MSZMP should not render an account of its assets in the political negotiation meetings. The MSZMP proposed that a deadline be defined for the banning of party organizations from the work-place. Rezso Nyers. In this respect they worked out a proposal dated July 3 1st to be handed to the Cabinet Office.lbn Forints to the government. Pozsgay suggested. very critically. “advance payment”. from the Armed Forces no later than December 31st. In the former meeting. On several occasions they claimed that a multi-party system could not possibly cost more than had the one-party system. although the MSZMP could not agree to give further backing from their share of the state budget.”’ Clearly Pozsgay had not been truthful at the Intermediate Level meeting of August 28th when he claimed: .'^ The Third Side and the EKA maintained their stance that Parliament should decide the issue. but-we accept the Opposition Roundtable’s and others’ points of view-only to the Hungarian nation. that Pozsgay had had no right to express his view on the banning of party organizations from the work-place. The MSZMP delegation agreed to produce a detailed account of its assets... From Public Administration no later than December 3 1st.”’ Further changes took place at the meetings of the MSZMP Political Executive Committee on August 31st and of the Central Committee in early September. Nyers explained in the Budapest Party Committee’s delegate club. another member of the Political Executive Committee. and 3.1so The Ro~mdtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy involved in such terms as “charity”. all parties should prepare an account of their assets. 1990. he concluded. the MSZMP leader. 1990?8 On August 30th after a long break. claimed. 2. for registration purposes. Imre Pozsgay-returning to the MSZMP’s official view of late July-explained that the MSZMP had acquired “most of its assets from legal sources. the party was not obliged to render any account of these to the Opposition Roundtable (the forum of the trilateral meetings) but only to the Hungarian nation. the MSZMP and other “vassal” organizations would receive less support and the EKA organizations should apply for specific sums. This meeting finalized the list of positions which only non-party members could fill and also decided that. by doing so it wanted to support the formation of both the new and of the historical par tie^.

000. September 15th the parties agreed. that from both sides 2-2 persons would meet at the weekend and would go through the whole draft law concerning party activities and administration. since no “excessive announcements” were being made. lo6 The decision of the Central Committee of the MSZMP was given to the negotiating partners by Pozsgay and Budzsiklia in the Intermediate Level talks of September 4th. that the parties could form organisations at work-places.Adrim Masrit: Beyond the One-party System 151 agement of the companies and should not be allowed “double leader~hip”. where the text was approved. These organizations should be outside the work-place. there could be party organizations in the work-place and elsewhere. to the effect that. 3. after the multi-party system comes into being. Pozsgay announced that the government. mainly due to the setback on the question of the party’s withdrawal from the work-place. on the basis of this. . with three restrictions: 1. modifying his earlier position.. The MSZMP would not receive support from the fund established by Parliament 2. They should not be a part of a work organization. another delegate from the MSZMP. 2.’09 Worker’s Militia [Munkdso”rs&g] During the I/2 Working Committee’s last meeting the EKA representative announced. in the MSZMP’s setback. They should not interfere in management activities. September 18th. it would not be possible to have a clear view of the parties’ assets. however.lo5namely.000 to 40. since if not. questions were resolved (the acceptance of ftreign donations. institutions. very likely that the meeting took place only on Monday. as laid down by the management.I04 Only 14 members of the Central Committee supported Pozsgay’s proposal to retreat and the majority supported the other alternative proposed by Gkza Kilt5 nyi. that it did not accept the MSZMP’s proposal for a draft account of assets. no real progress was achieved.”’ On Friday. and. the banning of party organizations from the armed forces). Although many. The draft law prepared at the meeting of Working Committee was handed over to the Intermediate Level.107 Imre Pozsgay still acknowledged with satisfaction (after the Intermediate Level talks of September 4th) in the meeting of the Political Executive Committee on September 5th that within the EKA “common sense was winning”.”~ On September 1 st Pozsgay clarified developments concerning the issue in the trilateral meetings. in an “attempt to strengthen confidence” would reduce the numbers from 60. during their talks. he suggested the following: My opinion is that it would be more favorable for the party’s future to accept the view that. so far undecided. They should not be politically active during working hours. since. It is. Finally an agreement was reached that the armed forces and police officers could not be occupy higher positions in the parties’ national or local organizations. The negotiating parties agreed on issues concerning party’ financing during the transitional period: 1. A Committee would decide on . The EKA published its opinion in the daily Magyar Nemzet. it would need to be guaranteed that all parties could operate in factories. “it perceived the attempt as a threat to the whole democratic transitional period” .

Imre Pozsgay Minister of State. The MSZMP's name was changed to the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) on October 7th and within barely a week it had agreed on the other three issues."* Piter Tolgyessy (SZDSZ) and Lisz16 Kovkr (Fidesz) explained to the plenary session: 1. The members of the Committee would be drawn from the gove i m e n t and from the parties. The representatives rejected this absurd idea and. On October 13th Khlmhn Kulcsiir.101 votes decided when the election of the president would take place. which would have been an excellent birthday present. member of the MSZMP's Presidency111 The agreement of September 18. on Pozsgay's birthday. accepted the end of the era of state party power. a ban which came into force on October 30th. two days later. Over 95 per cent of voters voted for the banning of the party organizations from the work-place. the rendering of an account of the properties of the communist party were such cardinal questions that they would not sign the agreement but would initiate a referendum on these issue^. A few days later the opinion of the Legal. since a mere 6. Act XXXIII of 1989 (on party activity and administration)."' Closing of Negotiations The ruless rule by the grace of God. In the case of the first question the difference was minimal. At that time the leaders of the MSZP still believed that the right to establish a trade-union should be restricted only in the case of state organizations. Administrative and Justice Committee (Jogi. in section 2 6 1st paragraph. However. 1989. this did not happen. the appointing of the President. Section 18 2nd paragraph decreed a grad- . This meant that they would tolerate other parties forming branches in the work-place.152 The Roundtable Tdks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy the allocation of support (and on the matter of real estate and the question of legal title) and 3. The November referendum was valid and successful in all four issues. the dissolution of the Worker's Militia. And I was not made president by the grace of God. the MSZMP's banning from the work-place and 4. promulgated the banning of party organizations from the work-place. Events moved more quickly in October. this was identical to the government's proposal. 3."^ The referendum was due to be held on November 26th. Igazgatcisi ks Igazsdgiigyi Bizottscig) was published. Pozsgay was hoping to be elected by popular vote.114 is important to mention that only this first issue It was really decided by the vote. 1989-Gyogy Szabad the MDF negotiator termed it a partial solution-was not signed by the SZDSZ and by Fidesz. announced the official view of the Cabinet. for the MSZMP's rendering of an account of its assets and for the dissolution of the Worker's Militia. This supported the view that no party organization should be allowed to operate in the work-place. 2. Minister of Justice.

As this “generous”’ l9 offer evoked memories of the ghetto.Adbni Masat: Beyond the One-party System 153 ual termination process. broken down into years and divisions (local party organizations) mostly expressed in terms of millions and billions of Forints. the claims for financial support still exceeded the resources available by 25m Forints. retreated and withdrew its proposal concerning the modification of the National Defense law. The report was available from October.lI7 The steps to create equality amongst parties and organizations taken by the MSZMP seemed totally absurd in relation to this report of the Minister of Finance and to the Party’s property and assets situation. however. with the participation of 16 organizations.”’ Parliament accepted Law XXX of 1989 on an immediate ban on the organization-before the symbolic amendment to the Constitution on October 23rd. The original 50m Forints budget was increased to lOOm by a further reduction in support for the MSZMP. proposed in his letter to Miityas Szuros. The next meeting took place. Speaker of Parliament. The government. namely that party organizations should be banned 90 days before Parliamentary elections. on October 27th. This lengthy document gave a mainly detailed description of the organization.12’ However. an independent MP. the Workers’ Militia and the various social organizations. under-secretary of state. Raft asked the representatives of the parties not to consider the MSZMP proposal but to submit their claims for office buildings and for money. After the September 18th agreement the Cabinet’s plans concerning the Workers’ Militia’s integration into the army came into the limelight. the KISZ and from companies operated directly by Worker’s Councils had been waived by the state.6 billion Forints due from the MSZMP. pointed out in the report that several factors had made the calculations and the accounting for party assets difficult-namely. An agreement was also reached concerning party financing during the transitional period. and opted for the immediate banning of the Worker’s Militia. In the second week of October it seemed that the government would support the idea of forming a National Guard. outlined the proposal of the MSZMP in the September 6th meeting which was held in the Office of the Council of Ministers: Two headquarters to accommodate all(!) of the parties. Parliament decided at its September 26th meeting that the Minister of Finance should provide information on the property and assets of the MSZMP. The figures in the documents suggested an incredible level of wealth which it was still difficult to grasp. Minister of Finance. Miklbs Raft. that the MSZMP should render an account of its assets to Parliament. Zoltan Kiraly. L9sz16 Bkkesi.4 billion Forints. co-operatives and publicly-financed institutions only from the annual reports of the organizations. that the Ministry of Finance had received information about the fixed assets of the companies. which was due to somewhat irrational claims . when members of Parliament received the 158-page document. Shortly before the close of the trilateral meetings. It transpired that the support which the MSZMP and other social organizations had received since 1968 was about 47.”‘ It was not possible to hide the fact that taxes amounting to 8.

which indirectly assisted the development of a multi-party-system in 1989. due to the unsettled state of the MSZP. Not only was the parties’ network of professionals built up during this period. However. 1990. which did convey in their names their intention to operate as parties. two congresses took place in Budapest: the 14th (closing) party Congress of the MSZMP and the 1st Party Congress of the MSZP.lZ2 Conclusions We left a corpse behind: the party state. still unwilling to operate as a party. in 1989.’24The Roundtable talks operated as a catalyst for the formation and development of the parties. progressive system in respect of financial norms. leadership appointment). The delegates passed a resolution liquidating the (almost 33-year old) MSZMP on October 7th.’’’ This decision meant the symbolic end of the one-party system of Kiidiir which had represented stability and consistency. basic rules.”’ The problem of office space remained unresolved. 1989. the SZDSZ and the MDF. neither a one-party nor a multi-party-system was functioning. new organizations were developed. A nonParliamentary multi-party system did exist.154 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy made by some of the organizations. during the long period of the talks. but the detailed regulation of their operation was covered by another law. a multi-level. since most organizations were unwilling to accept being placed with other parties in a common building (in the two headquarters mentioned earlier!). membership files. member of the Reform Alliance of the MSZP It is a widely known fact. without stating this openly in their names. several local party organizations and the Opposition Roundtable were formed in towns all over the country. This included the employment of legal standards (relating to registration. On the other hand. Ivan Vitanyi. The Law on the Right of Association of 1989 allowed the formation of parties. At the end of 1988 the MDF considered the development of a multipartysystem as inevitable. during the period October 6th-8th. among other things. The SZDSZ and Fidesz were in the same situation but they did. to the fact that. in fact. operate as parties. since. The character of Hungaiy’s transition is due. and declared itself as party in the Deed of Foundation. the organizations accepted the normative system of financial support sponsored by Fidesz. that. The general debate over the law on the Right of Association and Assembly was well known to the public. with the smaller organizations located in the lowest bracket. it was also possible to test the political abilities of some of the . established by the formation of parties from the movements and political groupings developed earlier. The Cabinet asked for a postponement of the issue until January 31st. tlie nails and the f hair o tlie corpse ure still growing even though the bodv is decaying. Aiter the decision of the Central Committee. and by the formation and reformation of the historical parties in 1989.

Adhn Masd: Beyond the One-party System


leading personalities. This was the time when it was decided who was suitable for a leading position and who for the elaboration of party strategy. At the beginning, the MSZMP leadership thought in terms of “socialist pluralism”, of a political system where the state party maintained its leading role. They believed that it would be possible to placate the opposition by offering concessions, a safety-valve, a “change of model”. It was not in their interesttaking professional views into consideration-to regulate party operations by the Law on Right of Association. “One-party pluralism” would have served well their tactics to gain time and it threatened neither the MSZMP’s workplacebased organizations nor their vast property and assets, which should have been divided among the newly-formed parties. Leaders of the opposition parties discovered that, by joining forces and coming together in the Opposition Roundtable they could force the state party to show its true colors and to start the talks. During the trilateral talks it was the task of ID Working Committee to elaborate the Party Law. The three negotiating parties agreed on the “codification” part of the task on important political questions. The divergence of opinion (the pai-ty in the work-place, and accounting for party assets) almost brought about an end to the talks. Fundamentally there were three different opinions. The MSZMP wanted to account for party assets only to party members and was unwilling to remove the party from the workplace. It wished to restrict the Right of Association in relation to state organizations and supported the absurd idea that all parties be allowed to “enter” the work-place. By contrast, the EKA had consistently demanded an account of party assets and the banning of party organizations from the work-place. Imre Pozsgay represented a middle way. He thought that, in both cases, the demands of the EKA were justified, but he could not, or would not, identify himself with their demands. He thought that the MSZMP should, indeed, account for its assets to the Hungarian people but that the appropriate public forum would be the new Parliament-i.e., following free elections. Pozsgay submitted a compromise proposal concerning party organizations in the work-place, in which he suggested a staged withdrawal of party organizations governed by deadlines. After Nyers and other MSZMP politicians criticized Pozsgay for this proposal, Pozsgay retreated and came up with a rather unclear formula (“there may be factory, workplace and other party organisations, but outside the factory and institution”) which seemed closer to the MSZMP’s position. The “unfinished” Party Law became part of the agreement of September 18th, 1989, after elaboration by the three negotiating parties. The EKA signatories pursued a realistic policy and valued the results achieved. Those who did not sign the agreement regarded the issues as more important where no agreement was reached and when public opinion polls could be introduced. In the meantime the MSZMP announced its own demise and was forced to retreat on three matters: it published an account of its assets and accepted the disbanding of the Worker’s Militia, whilst the banning of party organizations from the work-place was incorporated in Act XXXIII of 1989 on Party Activity and Administration,


The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f

which was passed into law by Parliament. The successful referendum of November 26th served to confirm the whole situation, although the real decision was made only on the first, cleverly worded issue; it put a symbolic end to dispute, in which the conflict between the MSZMP and the EKA had been the most significant. The MSZMP undoubtedly helped in the breakdown of the Kidir regime, and 1989 became not only the year of the collapse of the regime but also of the state party. The vast political and financial capital of the party proved worthless and a distrustful society, its sense of justice violated, delivered its own judgement on the party state and, in 1990, rejected the decades-old system in free elections. (Translated by Orsolyu Kurdcsony)

I am grateful to Tibor Bogdhn, Mhtyhs Budzshklia, Ivhn Pet0 and Edit Roder for their help in opening up the work of the I/2 committee by their comments and also for placing all of the documents at my disposal, I am especially grateful to Andrhs Boz6ki: without his suggestions this paper would not have been prepared.
1 Speech given by Janos KBdar in 13th party congress in 1985. 2 Nagy, Imre: “A magyar ntp nevkben”. Vitairatok 6s beszedek. [“In the Name of the Hungarian Nation”, Polemical essays and speeches.] 1955-1956. Paris: 1984. pp. 260-26 1. (Magyar Fiizetek). 3 The Act 111 of 1983 of the appointing of the Parliamentary representatives and councilors. Promulgated on December 27, 1983. 4 See the 8. 3 (1) section of the Act.-The national list of 35 Parliamentary seats made it possible for prominent personalities of the party to be excused from taking part in the Nomination Committee meetings and to became automatically Members of Parliament. 5 “Of course” in the general preamble to the law meant that the reforms were necessary at that time, but that “at a higher stage of socialist democracy, the legal institution could become unnecessary”. During the 1985 elections it was quite common that in the Nomination Committee meetings most members of the Committee had to be “conscripted”, and it was often asked “why do we need two candidates” (“we know who we are going to vote for”). Istvan Kukorelli: “A vhlaszthsi rendszer alkotmanyos keretei” [The Constitutional Framework for the Electoral System]. In: GyBrgy Szoboszlai (ed.): Biztonsug ks egviittmiikSdis [Safety and Cooperation]. Budapest: 1985. pp. 187.; Peter Szalay: “A jeloltgyulesek nClihny tapasztalata” [Some Observations on the Nomination Committee Meetings]. In: Gyorgy Szoboszlai (ed.): Biztonsug Ps egviittmiikodks [Safety and Cooperation]. Budapest: 1985. pp. 191-192., and ElemCr Hankiss: Kelet-eurcipai alternatiixik [EastEuropean Alternatives]. Budapest: KBzgazdasagi 6s Jogi, 1989. pp. 109 and 114 (hereinafter: Hankiss, 1989). G See in detail Rudolf TOkCs: A kialkirdott forradnlom. Gazdasrigi reform, tarsadalmi atalukirkis i s pfitikni hntalomutbdlds [The Negotiated Revolution. Economic Reform, Social Change and PO-

Adcim Masat: Beyond the One-party System


litical Succession] 1957-1990. Kossuth, 1998. pp. 272-276. (Later on: TokCs, 1998.); Hankiss, 1989. pp. 106-1 16.; Istvan Feitl: “PhrtvezetCs 6s orszlggyulCsi vhlasztasok”. [Party Leadership and Parliamentary Elections] 1949-1988. In: Gyorgy Foldes and Lisz16 Hubai (eds.): Parlamenti kkpviselovalasztcjsok 1920-1990 [Parliamentary Elections.] Budapest: PolitikatortCneti Alapitviny, 1994. pp. 303-305.; Istvan Kukorelli and PCter Schmidt (eds.): Az alkotmrjnyossug alapjai. Tarsadalom - demokraciu - alkotmcinj7osstjg. [The Basis of Constitutionalism. Society-Democracy-Constitutionalism]. Budapest: Kossuth, 1989. pp. 146-1 50.; Jbzsef Halasz and JBnos Sari (eds.): Allami intkzmbnyek a politikai rendszerben [State Institutions in the Political System]. Budapest: Kossuth, 1987. pp. 112-1 17.; Ervin Csizmadia: A magyar demokratikirs ellenzkk (1968-1988) [The Hungarian Democratic Opposition (1968-1988)l. Monograph. Budapest: TTwins, 1995. pp. 30 1-308. (Hereinafter: Csizmadia, 1995.) 7 About the concept of pluralism see Mihily Bihari: Demokratikus lit a szabadscighoz [Democratic Way to Freedom]. Budapest: Gondolat, 1990. pp. 209-21 1. and Zsuzsa Kerekes: Parlamenti ubdcb [Parliamentary ABC]. Budapest: Osiris, 1999. p. 101. 8 See Csizmadia, 1995. Monogrhifin [Monograph] p. 312. 9 “...when we are talking about pluralism.. ., we should also consider that in this country neither a one-party system has been introduced as a possible alternative, nor a two-party system, since pluralism means a multi-party system.. .” See Sandor Agdcs, Endre Medvigy (eds.): A magyarsug estlvei. A tanricskozas hitelesjegvzokon-we.Lakitelek 1987. szept. 27. [The Chances of the Hungarian Nation The Authentic Minutes of the Talks] Lakitelek-Budapest: Antologia-Piiski, 1991. p. 86.-See also the speeches of Imre Pozsgay, Mihhly Bihari, Csaba Gombir. 10 See ib. pp. 177-178. I 1 Csizmadia, 1995. Dokiimentumok [Documents]. pp. 431-487., and Fanny Havas et al. (eds.): Beszklo Osszkiadus [Republication of BeszClo’s twenty-seven issues between 1981 and 1989, in three volumes]. Vol. 2. pp. 749-791.See in particular TorvCnyt a pirtrd! [Law about the party!] ibid., p. 437. (p. 759.) 12 Antal Lhszlb, Bokros Lajos, Csillag Istvin, Lengyel Lasz16 and Matolcsy GyBrgy: Fordulat Cs reform [Change and Reform]. In: Kozgazdashgi Szemle, 34 (1987) 6. pp. 642-663. 13 Bihari, Mihaly: Reform ks demokracia (Vhlsdg bs kibontakozas) [Reform and Democracy (Crisis and Development)]. Budapest: Eotvos, 1990. pp. 15-102. 14 See in particular Tervezett bs hutarolt tobbpdrtrendszer - Alkotmcinyozb Nernzetgyclks (A diktnthrikus szocializrnusbbl U demokrntikirs szocializmusbu atmenet politikai programja.); Alternativ javaslat az citmeneti idoszak politikai programjdra; Kormanyzati reformcentrim bs az “atmenet” fobb feladatai. Ib. pp. 182-191., 192-196. and 197-214.-Miria Ormos and Rezso Nyers also supported the proposal of a gradual change to a multi-party system in the meeting of the Central Committee on February loth, but both of them acknowledged that, under the political circumstances at that time, it was not possible. On the other hand, Nyers explained the necessity for the declaration of a multi-party system in a rather contradictory way in the February 7th session of the Central Committee. He called the multi-party system the natural form of a socialist “reinforced people’s democratic” society, whilst he referred to the one-party system as “the revolutionary stage”, the natural form of proletarian dictatorship. S. Kosztricz Anna et al. (eds.): A Magyar Szocialista Munkhspart Kozponti Bizottsaghak 1989. Cvi jegyzokiinyvei [The Minutes of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party in the Year 19891. Vol. 1. Budapest: MOL, 1993. 65. ff. and 75. ff. (Hereinafter: A Magyar Szocialista Munkaspart Kozponti Bizottsaganak 1989. Cvi jegyzokonyvei).-Az MSZMP Politikai Bizottsaghak 1989. februar 7-i iilese. [The Meeting of the Political Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Party of February 7th, 19891 MOL M-KS-288. f. 5/105 1.6. e. 15 Istvhn Kukorelli: “Parlament az egypartrendszer utols6(?) CvCben”. In: Sandor Kurtan, PCter Sandor, LBszlo Vass (eds.): Mugyarorszug Politikai Evkonyve 1988. [The Political Yearbook of Hungary] Debrecen: R-Forma, 1989. p. 248.-Az M S Z W javaslata politikai egyezteto fbrirm lktrehozasdra [The M S Z W ‘s Proposal on the Setting up of a Conciliation Forum], and Az Ellenzbki Kerekasztal allcisfoglalcisa az MSZMP javaslatardl [The View o the Opposition Roundtable f


The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy

on the Proposal of the MSZMP]. Andras Bozoki (editor-in-chief), Marta Elbert, Melinda Kalmbr, B6la Rdvdsz, ErzsCbet Ripp, Z o l t h Ripp (eds.): A rendszervdlths forgatbkonyve: kerekasztalturgyuldsok 1989-ben [The Script of the Regime Change: Roundtable Negotiations in 19891. Budapest: Magveto, 1999. Vol. 1. pp. 229-230. (document 19) and pp. 291-292. (document 20/c) (hereinafter: A rendszervbltdsforgatbk6nyve [The Script of the Regime Change]). 16 Henrik Vass (ed.): A Magyar Szocialista Munkhsphrt hathrozatai C dokumentumai 1985-1989 s [The Resolutions and Documents of The Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party Central Committee 1985-1 9891. Interart, 1994. p. 442. (Hereinafter: A Magyar Szocialista Munkhsphrt hatarozatai C s dokumentumai 1985-1989.) 17 A Mugyur Szocialista Mttnkdsphrt Kozponti Bizottsiganak 1989. tvi jegyzb’konyvei. Vol. 1. p. 1 1 .; Vol. 2. p. 1714. 18 See e.g. the remarks of Karoly Gr6sz and Gyula Khllai at the meeting of CC on February 10. A Magyar Szocialista Munkhpart Kozponti Bizottsdgdnak 1989. dvi jegyzb’konyvei.Vol. 1. pp. 12. and 21. 19 Announcement about the meeting of MSZMP Central Committee. A Magvar Szocialista Muiikdsydrt hatcirozutai ds doktrmentumni 1985-1989. pp. 556-558. 20 See e.g. the remarks made in the meeting of MSZMP PB on February 7th 1989. MOL M-KS-288. f. WO5 1. o. e.-”I have noticed that there is agreement, that, in the coming elections, taking into consideration the transitional period, there could not be truly multi-party elections. There is no trick in this. The historical or the newly formed parties are not ready to define themselves, and so society is not ready to judge them reali~tically.~~ Interview with Mhtyls Budzshklia, Nbpszabadsug June (!) 15, 1989. 2 1 A Magyar Szocialista Munkasprirt Kozponti Bizottsughnak 1989. tvi jegyzb’konyvei. Vol. 1. p. 12. 22 Remarks made by Imre Nagy in a KB meeting on February 1lth. A Mugyar Szocialista MunkdspJrt Kozponti Bizottscigbnak 1989. tvi jegyzokonyvei. Vol. 1. pp. 92-93. 23 See e.g. the case of the famous NEXT 2000 Kft. Ntpszabadsug, 47 (August 28, 1989) 202. p. 5.; Magyar Nemzet, 52. (September 1989) 205. p. 5. 24 See the meetings of the Political Executive Committee on August 15th and 31st 1989. MOL M KS - 288. f. 5/1075. o. e.- See also “Mi van a hhtttrben?” [What’s in the background?] Magyar Nemzet, 52 (July 29, 1989) 176. p. 4. 25 See 2. 5 (I)- See also Andrhs Ho116: Az dllamjogtbl a jogdlamig. (A kozjog “jorradalma’3. [From Political Law to Constitutional State (The Revolution of the “Constitutional Law”)]. Budapest: 1993. p. 67 (hereinafter: Ho116, 1993). 26 See the viewpoint of MSZMP KB on November 22, 1988. A Mugyar Szocialistn Munkaspcirt hatarozatai 6s dokumenttrmai 1985-1989. pp. 52 1-522. 27 Gyorgy Fejti at the Intermediate Level talks on July 27. A rendszeivriltus forgatdkiinyve... Vol. 2. p. 624 (document 53). 28 See about the formation of the EKA A rendszeivultus forgutdkonyve ... Vol. 1. pp. 63-75 (document 7); Richter Anna (ed.): Ellenzdki Kerehsztal - portrhuzlatok - Opposition Roundtable (Portrait Sketches)]. Budapest: Otlet, 1990. (hereinafter: Richter, 1990); TokCs, 1998. pp. 3 18-324; Andrhs Bozdki: Konfronticid C konszenzus: a demokratizilhs stratdgihi. [Confrontation and Consensus: s Strategies for Democratisation] Szombathely: Savaria University Press, 1995. 97. (hereinafter: Bozdki, 1995); Vigh, Khroly: “Az Ellenzeki Kerekasztaltdl a Nemzeti Kerekasztalig”. In: Shdor Kurtin, Peter Sindor, Lasz16 Vass (eds.): Magyarorszug Politikui Lhk6nyve 1990. [Budapest:] AulaOMIKK, 1990.231. and Vigh Kiroly: “Az Ellenzdki Kerekasztalrol”. Valbsug,42 (1999) Vol. 1.90. (hereinafter: Vigh, 1990. and Vigh, 1999.) 29 See e.g. the remarks of Fejti at Politikai Bizottsag on March 14. MOL M - KS - 288. f. 5/1057. o. e. 30 A rendszervhltcisforgatbkonyve... Vol. 1. pp. 88-90. (document 9) 31 Before the forum of April 8, representatives of the Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Friendship Society were telephoned and invited, and the Democratic League of Independent Trade Unions was invited by cable. Of the member organizations only Fidesz was not invited and for that reason it is not sur-

Adam Masat: Beyond the One-party System


prising that Fidesz expressed a strong opinion that the EKA should not take part in the talks held in the Academy. See also A rendszervalthsforgatdkonyve ... Vol. 1. pp. 94-1 13 (document 1 Ua); Andras Bhlint, B.: Gyozelemre sziiletiink... Kdnya Imre az Ellenzkki Kerekasztabdl. [Born to Win: Imre Kdnya on the Opposition Roundtable] Budapest: Progresszi6, 1990. 35. Richter, 1990. pp. 17-18., p.13.; Vigh, 1990. p. 233; Vigh, 1999. p. 91.; Gyorgy Fejti: “I had to represent the MSZMP”. In: Sindor Kurtin, Peter Sandor, Laszl6 Vass (eds.): Magyarorszug kvtizedk8nyve. 1988-1 9Y8. Vol. 2. Budapest: Demokracia Kutatasok Magyar Kozpontja Alapitvhny, 1998. p. 907 (hereinafter: Fejti, 1998) and Bozoki, 1995. pp. 99-102. 32 A rendszeivhlfusforgatdkonyve ... Vol. 1. p. 147 (document 13/c). 33 Torvknyjavaslat a politikai phrtokrdl [Draft Law on the Political Parties]. Magyar Hirlap, 22. (April 19, 1989) No. 90. p. 7, and Torvknyjavaslat a politikai phrtokrol [Draft Law on the Political Parties]. Magyar Nemzet, 52. (April 19, 1989) No. 90. p. S. 34 A rendszewriltrisprogramja. SZDSZ, 1989. p. 143. 35 Magyar Nemzet, 52 (May 18, 1989) No. 114. p. 6. 36 A rendszervrilirisforgatbkonyve ... Vol. 1. p. 72. 37 See Magyar Nemzet, 52 (May 27, 1989) No. 122. p. 3. 38 See the remarks made at the EKA meeting on May 31, 1989. A rend~zervuftus forgatdkiinyve .... Vol. 1.410. ff. 39 See Kenedi, 1996. Vol. 2. pp. 2 3 0 4 1 1. According to the recollections of Peter Tolgyessy the representatives of the MSZMP thought about the number of people likely to go to the fimeral, that such an enormous crowd “cannot be supervised b,v ikepolice”. The reaction is a good example of the fear emanating from the declining power of the state party that the event might bring about the destruction of the legitimacy of the system which had existed for almost three decades. The comment of Ptter Tolgyessy. See also Tolgyessy’s article in April 24, 1999 edition of MagVar Nemzet, and the writings of Janos Rainer M. in the same volume. 40 See e.g. the report of Lhszld Sdlyom and PCter Tolgyessy in the EKA meeting on June 4th. A rendszervaltas forgatdkonyve.. . Vol. 1. pp. 468-470, and the remarks of Tolgyessy in the meeting of the EKA on June 7th ibid., p. 550. 41 Cf A rendszerva1th.sforgaidkonyve ... Vol. 1.2 p. 447. and ibid. vol. 2. p. 27. and p. 134. 42 A rendszewdltusforgatbkonyve ... Vol. 1. p. 410. -Cp. also ibid., p. 605. (document 31- The 1st point in the agreement’s penultimate paragraph.) 43 It was publicly known that the President of the USA would visit Hungary in the summer of 1989. (See Nkpszabadsug, 47. (June lSth, 1989) No. 139. p. 1.) George Bush was in Budapest on July 1lth-13th and he met the representatives of the EKA in the Embassy Residence. On the same day Bush met 6 members of Fidesz and six young independent politicians. Andrhs Bozoki (ed.): Tiszfa loppal. A FIDESZ a magyar politikdban 1988-1991. [With a Clean Record. Fidesz in Hungarian Politics 1988-199 11 Budapest: FIDESZ, 1992. p. 805. (hereinafter: Tiszta ,appal).-Mark Palnter, the US ambassador to Hungary, twice met representatives of the EKA, on June 15th and June 27th. In both cases reports were made about the meetings by organizations of the Ministry of the Interior, that is to say, the meetings were tapped. Cf. A rendszervaltcisforgatdkiinyve... Vol. 2. p. 5 5 . and p. 220. - About the role of Palmer see e.g. Istviin Bodzabhn and Antal Szalay (eds.): A yiiha diktatiirdid a kemtny demokraciaig. [From Soft Dictatorship to Tough Democracy] Budapest: Pelikan, 1994. pp. 129-13 1. (hereinafter: Bodzabin and Szalay, 1994). 44 The organizations of the Third side e.g. A rendszemaltds forgatbkonyve ... Vol. 1. pp. 604-608 (document 31), and Richter, 1990. pp. 294-300. Imre Pozsgay later admitted: we had to accept the idea that the organizations representing the Third Side are independent in 1989. (Imre Pozsgay: 1989. Politikus-pdya a purtdllamban ks a rendszervdtdsban. Budapest: Puski, 1993. p. 146 (hereinafter: Pozsgay, 1993). Gyorgy Fejti on the other hand, after 10 years still thought that the participation of the organizations of the Third Side was necessary due to the balance of power and the diversity of society at that time. Fejti, 1998. p. 907. 45 After the signing of the agreement on the start of the genuine political talks on June loth, PCter Tolgyessy (SZDSZ) announced that the EKA insisted upon the establishment of 7 Working


The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy

Committees, only one of which would deal with economic issues. See the meeting of the EKA on June 7 (A rendszervaltas forgatdkoi~pe Vol. 1. p. 564 and Nkpszabadsdg, 47 (June 12, 1989, ... No. 136. p. 5). The intention also shows, that-by decreasing the number of economic Working Committees-the EKA wished to avoid sharing the responsibility for the evolving economic situation. See the remarks of Tolgyessy at the meting of the EKA on June 9th. A rendszervdltcjs ... foi-gatdkon<we Vol. 1. p. 585. 46 Imre Nagy and the martyrs were reburied on June 16th; the signing of the agreement on the start of the NKA negotiations and the opening plenary meeting took place on June 13th. Viktor O r b h stated positively in the EKA meeting of May 3 1st that the agreement should be signed only @er the reburial. PCter Tolgyessy on the other hand reasoned that concerns about possible events on this day would “weaken” the representatives in power, and so to sign the agreement before June 16th would bring more positive results than later. A rendszervaltiis forgatokiinyve.. .Vol. 1.41 1. 47 A rendszewdtus forgatdkdnyve ... Vol. 2. p. 141 (document 38/b)-The EKA defined as preconditions for the signing of the agreement at the NKA talks’ on the issues and agenda on June 21st, that they would withdraw the draft laws mentioned above. See the argument of BQlintMagyar at the meeting of the EKA on June 20th, ibid., Vol. 2. pp. 119-120. 48 Gyorgy Fejti in the meeting of Politburo on June 13th. MOL M-KS-288. f. Y1068.o.e. 49 Jozsef Antall at the meeting of the EKA on August 29th. A rendszewdtas forgatdkonyve ... Vol. 3. p. 536 (document 65). SO A rendszewciltbsforgutdkiinyve... Vol. 2. p. 138 (document 38/a). The Intermediate Level negations discussed the duties of the I/2 Committee’s task on July 27th. Ivhn Pet0 explained at that time that part of the Committee’s work is to guarantee working conditions during the transition period, and so the term “working” is a general term and does not refer to the preparation of a concrete draft law. ibid., pp. 628-629. 51 Imre Pozsgay and Gyorgy Fejti suggested several times that equal opportunities can only be understood under legal circumstances. By doing so they rejected the comments of the EKA, that the MSZMP did not intend to create equal opportunities by refusing to render an account of party assets and banning party organizations from the work-place. See e.g. the remark of Pozsgay at the August 28th Intermediate Level negotiations meeting. (ibid., Vol. 3. p. 505.), and the response of Fejti at the September 6th (ibid., Vol. 4. p. 191.) and July 27th meetings (ibid., Vol. 2. p. 630. and p. 635). 52 See the EKA’s announcement on May 24th, ibid., Vol. 1. pp. 392-393. (document 24/c). See also Gyorgy Fejti’s report in the meeting of the Political Committee on May 2nd., MOL M-KS-288. f. 5/1063. 0.e. 53 The MSZMP recommended several times that the 112 Committee, together with a special subcommittee, should handle these issues. Due to the break-down in talks this did not come about. See A rendszervhltas forgatbkonyve.. . Vol. 2. 622 (document 53). 54 June 30. July 5 , 10, 17, 19,21,24,26, August 21,30 and September 18 and 20. 55 Regular participants at the Committee meetings were: Zoltin Bodnar, Tibor Bogdin and Ferenc Rakosi (MSZMP); from the EKA member organisations MBtyas Eorsi (SZDSZ), Balizs Horvath (MDF), Gyorgy PBlos (FKGP), LBszIo S. Hegedus (MNP), Gyorgy Such (Fidesz), Tibor Vidos (FSZDL); from the Third Side R6za Bota (Demisz), BCla Rabi (Demisz), IvBn Szenes (MEASZ), Tibor VPgh (BAL). Other (“non-permanent”) participants: from the MSZMP: Mrs Ban, Gyula Farkas; from the EKA: Daniel Dobozy, J6zsef Koblencz; and, representing the Third Side: Ottb Gyorgy Hatos, Miklos Talas, Gabor Tatrai. 56 A rendszen~altcis forgatdkonyve ... Vol. 2. p. 228 (document 43). 57 Edit Roder’s personal comment. 58 KBroly Gr6sz in the meeting of the Politburo. February 28. MOL M-KS-288. f. 5A054.0.e. 59 The acceptance of the next presidential institution, the writing of minutes, the issue of publicity, wording of memos and transcripts, regular consultations with the delegation of the Working Committee, etc. 60 I/2. Jegyzokonyv az 1989. jhnius 304 thrgyalasrd [U2 Minutes of the Talks of June 30th, 19891. According to the Mnirtes of July 5th the EKA asked for an account of the property and assets of

Addm Masat: Beyond tlie One-party System


the MSZMP and other social organizations as at December 3 lst, 1987 and a detailed description of any changes following that date. (The EKA’s concept of this request for data was based on the MDF’s proposal.) The EKA asked also for the following data: the infrastructure of the organization (phone, telex, f a , etc.); the cars owned by the organizations; scientific institutions, research institutions, schools and their equipment; property, assets and finances in connection with newspaper publication and local media organizations; the press, publishing houses and other assets of the organizations; property and assets, expenses and receipts of other organisations at the disposal of the organizations; foundations, shares, securities, etc.; a detailed statement of the source and application of funds for 1987 and 1988 and the support offered to state-financed organizationsall in detail. 61 The 2. 9 of May 29th draft law, discussed by the Committee, dealt with three versions A) “For the formation of a party is needed a total of at least 10 thousand founder-members who declare their common will to form the party.”; B) version: “at least 500 founder-members who declare their common will to form the party”; C) version: “at least 10 founder-members”. All three versions were omitted, and Act I1 of 1989 3. 3 (4) paragraph on the Right of Public Meetings remained: “For theforming of a social organization at least I0 founder-membersare necessary who declare their common will to form tlie organization, who decide oii the fundamental rules and who appoint its administrative and representative body. ” 62 Cp. the Act I1 8. 5 (2) paragraph of 1989 of the Right of Public Meeting (effective after October 30th, 1989). 63 Cp. the Constitution 32/A. 6 (5) paragraph, and 50. 6 (3) paragraph (effective after October 23rd 1989). 64 1/2. JegyzokGnyv az 1989.jzilius 5-itdrgyaldsrd1.-Cp. Constitution 2. 8 (3) paragraph. 65 I&. Jegyzokonyv az 1989.jiiliiis 10-i turgyalasrdl 66 Cp. the Act XXXIII. 1. 9 of 1989 of party operations and administration. 67 Cp. ib. 3. (3) paragraph. 68 Cp. the Act I1 8. 6 (2) paragraph of 1989 of the Right of Public Meeting. 69 I/2. Jegvzokonyv az 1989.jzilius 19-i turgyalh-dl. 70 op. cit. 7 1 Gyorgy Fejti at the Intermediate Level talks on July 27th. A rendszervaltas forgatokonyve ... Vol. 2. p. 623. (document 53). 72 This principle had been formulated several times earlier, see e.g. the text of the Minutes of June 5. See also I/2. Jegyzh’konvv az 1989.jiiliirs 26-i tdrgyalusrdl. 73 112. Jegyzokonyv az 1989. jlilius 19-i tdrgyalisrdl. - See also the evaluation of Ivin Pet0 at the meeting of the EKA on July 27th. A rendszervaltas forgatbkonyve.. . Vol. 2. 563. ff. 74 A rendszervaltas forgatbkiinyve... Vol. 2. pp. 620422 (document 53). 75 The Third Side was not in favor of the publication of the statement of assets. 76 From the original text of the minutes it seems obvious that Fejti often came into conflict with himself. See in particular A rendszervaltas forgatokonyve.. . Vol. 2. p. 630. 77 See also ZArt ajtbk 6s feltCtelezCsek [Closed Doors and Presumptions]. Magyar Nemzet, 52 (July 28th, 1989) No. 175. p. 3., and Mi van a hitterben? [What’s in the Background?] Magyar Nemzet, 52 (July 29th, 1989) No. 176. p. 4. 78 Gyorgy Fejti ten years later, in 1999, denied that the MSZMP had changed its view on the subject. Rendszervdltozds Magyarorszagon 1989-1 990. Nemzetkozi kritikai Oral History konferencia. MTA, June 10-1 1, 1999 (panel 6). 79 It concerns the earlier mentioned Note which contained the answers to the Minutes of the MSZMP of July 5th. See also: A rendszervaltas forgatokonyve... Vol. 2. p. 628. 80 Cp. the report of Ivan Pet0 at the meeting of the EKA on July 27th. A rendszervaltas forgatokonyve ... Vol. 2. p. 563. 8 1 Mityas Budzsdklia confirmed this in the interview (November 19th, 1999). See also the remarks of Ivan Pet0 at the E m ’ s meeting on July 27th. A rendszervalths forgatokonyve... Vol. 2. p. 563. See the publication of Andras Boz6ki publication: Szabadsdg, elvtarsak! [Freedom, Comrades!]


The RoiindtaBle Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f

Andras Boz6ki: Magyur panoptikurn. [The Hungarian Wax Works] Budapest: KivC, 1996. pp. 69-7 1. 82 Later it became clear from the report by LBszl6 BCkesi, Minister of Finance, that the party had waived the 8,6 billion (!) HUF tax debt of the KISZ and the companies operating directly under the trade unions. M u g p r Nemzet, 52 (October 21, 1989), p. 3. 83 It is enough to refer to the difference in personality of the two politicians, or, simply, that Fejti as regards the cardinal issues (the banning of party organizations from the work-place, accounting for assets) did not agree with Pozsgay. Fejti wrote on the subject: I was surprised to hear the statement made by Pozsgay that, from the beginning, his aim was to break up his own party. My aim was not that, since I had learnt that several forces outside us were ready for that. (...) I am aware, that in this bargaining process such an opinion might have been formed about me-that I was not flexible as a negotiator and that, if Pozsgay had not been so, we would not have reached an agreement. I have reconciled myself to the fact that things were going to be remembered in this way, but, as a participant in the events, I can say that this does not reflect reality. Undoubtedly we had, and have, a different temperament and character.. . Imre Pozsgay was happy to be left out of the conflict, and probably he was right. His ambition was different from mine.” Fejti, 1998. pp. 908-909. See also: A rendszervaltas forgatbkbnyve.. . Vol. 2. 566. skk. 84 Statement of Laszlb Vass (November 30, 1999). See also the opinion of Fejti about informal communication. Fejti, 1998. pp. 907-908, and memoir of Pozsgay: Pozsgay, 1993. pp. 159.; Pozsgay Imre: Koronatanzi is t e t t e s t h [Evidence for the State and Accomplice]. Budapest: Korona, 1998. p. 2 12 (hereinafter: Pozsgay, 1998); Pozsgay Imre: “SzCljegyzet a rendszervaltas velt vagy valos titkaihoz”. [Marginal Notes to the Presumed and Real Secretes of the Change of Regime]. In: Kurtan Sandor, Sandor PCter, Vass LAszl6 (eds.): Magyarorszrig tvtizedkonyw 1988-1 998. Vol. 2. Budapest: Demokracia Kutatasok Magyar Kozpontja Alapitviny, 1998. p. 940. 85 A rendszervaltis forgatokonyve... Vol. 2. p. 331. (document 46). Pozsgay joined the talks again on August 24. 86 Pozsgay, 1993. p. 156. 87 Ibid., p.158. 88 In the summer of 1989 Pozsgay consistently headed the popularity charts. See Az MSZMP elnoksCgCnek rokonszenvindexe. [The Popularity Chart of the MSZMP Presidency] MagVar Nemzet, 52 (August I , 1989)No. 178. p. 1. 89 Pozsgay, 1993. p. 154. 90 Ibid.,pp. 154-155. 91 Ibid.,p. 158. 92 Ibid.(content quotation). 93 See the minutes of the Intermediate Level negotiations’ meeting on July 6th. A rena!zen?cjltris forgatbkon-we ... Vol. 2. p. 331 (document 46).-Pozsgay announced at that meeting, that the MSZMP had no intention to close the talks on the final deadline. 94 Kiroly Grdsz at the meeting of Politikai Bizottsag on May 2nd, 1989. MOL M-KS-288. f. 511063. o x . 95 See Mugvar Nemzet, 52 (May 11, 1989), No. 108. p. 3. 96 According to the exchange rate of 26th June, 1989 US$lOO was equivalent to 6,219.80 Forints (100 GBP = 9,636.61 Forints). 97 The MDF and the SZDSZ did not claim support. The KisgazdapSut, and the Magyar NCppart each s claimed 3.3m Forints, which they received. “Kik C mennyit kaptak az otvenmilliobd?’ [Who Received the 50 Million, and Why? ] Magyar Nemzet, 52 (July 22nd, 1989), No. 170. p. 7. 98 A rendszemvdtdsforgatbkony v... Vol. 4. pp. 474-5 19. (document 64). 99 Gyorgy Fejti argued in the PIB’s meeting on August 15th, that if they announced it “heavily blown up” at a press conference, the issue of the MSZMP’s property and assets would be cancelled from the agenda. (He could not foresee his misjudgment.) MOL M-KS-288. f. 5/1075. 0.e.

Addm Masat: Beyond the One-party @stem


100 I/?. Jegyziikonyv az 1989. augzrsztus 30-itargyalisrdl. 101 The meeting of Politikai IntCzo Bizottshg on August 31st. MOL M-KS-288. f. 11/1076. o. e.-A rendszervaltas forgatbkonyve.. .Vol. 4. pp. 47-48. 102 Ihid., vol. 3. p. 499. See also A Magyar Szocialista Munkhspirt Kozponti Bizottshginak 1989. Cvi jegyzokiinyvei.. . Vol. 2. p. 1428. The situation current at that time was characterized by the remarks of BCla Katona in the meeting of MSZMP CC in September: “The dispute continues over the issue of whether the MSZMP should render an account of its properties to the Opposition Roundtable, to Parliament, or to the Audit Office? I would like to advise that it should render the account to the party members, as the party members are not aware of [sic!] the MSZMP’s asset position.” A Mugyar Szocialista Miinkispart Kozponti Bizottsdgdnak 1989. kvi jegvzokonyvei. Vol. 2. p. 1503. 103 NkIJszabadstjg, 4. (August 30th, 1989) No. 204. p. 5 . 104 A &fagym Szocialista Mitnkaspcjrt Kozponti Bizottsaganak 1989. ivi jegvzokonyvei. Vol. 2. pp. 1429-1430 (emphasis by- M. A.) 105 Only one person abstained from voting. 106 See A Magyar Szocialista Munkrisprirt Kozponti Bizottscjgrjiiak 1989. kvi jegyzokonyvei. Vol. 2. p. 1513, and A rendszerviltas forgat6konyve... Vol. 4. p. 166. 107 Mugyar Nemzet, 52 (September lst, 1989), No. 205. p. 5. 108 At the meeting of the Political Executive Committee on September Sth,. MOL M-KS-288. f. 5/1077. 0. e. 109 A rendszendtris forgatdkonyve ... Vol. 4. pp. 468469 (document 77). 1 10 U2. Jegyzokonyv az 1989. szepteinber 20-i tcirgyaldsrbl. 1 11 Imre Pozsgay in the February 22, 1992 edition of Nkpszabadsug; Pozsgay, 1993. p. 184. 112 The League, referring to its observer status, did not sign the contract. The Social Democratic Party signed only on condition, that it could announce that it did not agree with appointing the President before the Parliamentary elections. The SZOT withdrew in early August from the talks, which is why its signature was missing. See A rendszewdths forgatdkottyve ... Vol. 4. pp. 5165 19. (document 79). 113 See ibid., Vol. 4. pp. 500-502 (document 78); Tiszta lappal. pp. 194-204.; Endre Babus: In: Sandor Kurthn, Ptter Sandor, Lasz16 Vass (eds.): Mugyarorszag “Ntpszavazas-1989.” politikai bvkonyve 1990. AULA-OMIKK, 1990. pp. 209-223 .; Pozsgay, 1993. pp. 165-1 66. and pp. 184-186.; TokCs, 1998. 371.; Janos Kis: “A nCgy ‘igen’ lizenete”. Magyar Neizet, 52 (December 3, 1989). No. 286. p. 5.; Jinos Kis: “1989: A vig esztendo” [The Happy Year]. Beszilu, 4. (1999), No. 10. pp. 39-42; Istvhn Kukorelli: “Kormany C k6ztksasagi elnok Osszs tuzben az allamfo.” In: Csaba Gombhr, ElemCr Hankiss, Lasz16 Lengyel, Gyorgyi V h a i (eds.): Korinhiy a mbrlegen 1990-1 994. Budapest: Korridor, 1994. pp. 95-96.; J6zsef Debreczeni: A minisztereliiok. Antall Jbzsef b a rendszewdtozris. [The Prime Minister: Jozsef Antall and the s Political Transition], Budapest: Osiris, 1998. pp. 63-75. C J6zsef Debreczeni: “Antall Jdzsef es a ntgyigenes” nipszavazhs. Magyar Nemzet, 61 (April 25, 1999), No. 97. p. 16. 114 See the 41/1989. (XII. 27) OGY decision about the result of the referendum. 115 The party organisations had to be banned from the law courts, from the official organisations of Partliament, and from the Public Prosecutor’s department by the time the law came into force, from the departments of public administration no later than December 31st, 1989 and from the armed forces and police no later than December 3 lst, 1990. Lciszld Kovucs, representative of Pest county, handed in a codicil on October 1Sth, in which he proposed that in other workplaces the party organisations should be banned no later than June 30th, 1990. Orszaggyiilksi Iromanyok. 1985-1990. [Parliamentary Papers 1985-19901 pp. 25 1-300. No. 300. 116 According to the exchange rate of 26 June, 1989 US%lOOwas equivalent to 6,219.80 Forints (100 GBP = 9,636.61 Forints). 117 Mogvar Nemzet, 52. (October 21.54 1989), No. 248. p. 3. 118 Magyar Nemzet, 52, (October 21st, 1989), No. 248. p. 2.

etc. 1996. Kossuth. See: A rendszervciltds forgatdkonyve .. [The Establishment of a Multi-Party System in Hungary 1985-19911. e. Budapest: Napvilag. 121 See especially the remarks made in the EKA meeting on November 8th.. 646-648.): Kongresszus ‘89. Budapest: Napviltig. 200-201. 1990. 1985-1991. . and a later one on November 3rd.): A tobbpartrendszer kialaktilusa Magyarorszugon. Tamls Fricz: A magyarorszcigi purtrendszer 1987-1995 [The Hungarian Party System 1987-1 9951. dokunientumai 1985-1989. f. and A Magyar Szocialista ~ Miinkhspcirt hatarozatai k .. Vol. the first on November lst. 5. 176. pp. A rendszervaltas forgatbkonyve. 1996. valainint a Minisztertancics Hivatalbnak elnoke koziitt 1989. pp. skk. see PIB’s meeting on August ISth. there were two meetings. Zoltan Ripp: Szabad Demokratak.” 123 See Emil Kimmel (ed. 254. 1996 (Politikat6rtCneti fdzetek 6). 511075. pp...Vol. Attila Weber: A FIDESZjelenskg [The FIDESZ-Phenomenon]. 3. Historical Sketches of the Politics of the Alliance of Free Democrats] (1988-1994).See also Nkpszabadsug November 4th edition. Kossuth. [Hiingarian Politics 194-2995] Korona. . 124 From the theme’s works see Mihaly Bihari (ed.. the article: a “Bevallani. CserCpfalvi. Bihari Mihaly: Magyar politika 1941995. 1992. 1995. 5. 122 After October 27th. See also Magyar Nemzet. . Tortkneti vhlat a Szabad Demoki‘athk Sziivetskgknek politikbjbrbl [Free Democrats. 52. p. MOL M-KS-288. 85-95. de nehkz. . 120 Emlkkeztetci’ a yartok ks politikai szeivezetek kkpviseloi. oktdber 27-kn a prirtok pknzugyi tamogatasa trirgvaban tai’tott konzultcicidrril..6. jaj. No. 1989). (document 82).164 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy 119 The terminology was originally used by Gy6rgy Fejti. (October 28th.

if they want to understand it. combining different sets of rules in order to allocate seats in multiple ways. io the point that we didn’t know. rather than a systematically conceived. They pursued these objectives. Indeed. under a thickening veil of “ex ante” uncertainty about “ex post” electoral outcomes. as time went bj). however. Nor did Hungary’s framers simply attempt to emulate (what they believed to be) the German system (Geddes 1996. Instead. The chapter proceeds as follows. Schiemnnn So we ourselves went from originallv wanting a single member constituency system . relatively unusual. In this question basically the principle of the smallest risk prevailed. It is not simply a mixture of “majoritarian” and proportional principles. it incorporates a host of other. that it actually wouldn’t be good for tis so let’s pmh the thing in the other direction. the Opposition Roundtable (EKA) and the ruling Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party (MSZMP) which negotiated the electoral law in the roundtable talks attempted to design a system which would both maximize the seat shares of their individual parties as well as allocate those seats to top party Clites. one representative complained that it was so complicated that “the voters. This section reconstructs the beliefs. the MSZMPdominated Parliament reluctantly passed the electoral law to be used for the first free Parliamentary elections in over forty years.” The deputy was not exaggerating. following the conclusion of the Roundtable negotiations. grand plan to meet some imputed societal need. and compensation tiers. MSZMP negotiator GyZirgy Fejti When. 24) or design a system which reflected a popular distaste for political parties (Lijphart 1992).’ The discussion will show that the electoral system was the result of a patchwork grafting of different components. this thickening of the veil during the course of the roundtable caused the MSZMP to hedge its bets on the global features of the system. will have to take at least one course on vote calculation.. This chapter explains why this system emerged from the roundtable talks by analyzing the bargaining process which produced it. but we had the feeling. the electoral system is notoriously complex.. The next section turns to the bargaining in the roundtable negotiations which produced Act XXXIV of 1989. desegregating it into its most important individual components. electing 3 86 representatives from three different tiers by means of up to three ballots. . elements within the single member constituency (SMC). preferences.The Negotiated Origins of the Hungarian Electoral System Johrt W. In the first section I briefly describe the electoral system. list. and coherently designed.

SMC competition. distribution from a national list. The decision rule for single-member constituencies is a two-round. each candidate must obtain 750 nominating signatures.23). Regional seats are initially allocated according to a Droop quota. to which any candidate receiving 15% or more of the vote (but with a minimum of the top three vote winners) advance. The third ballot which Hungarian voters cast is for the next level: that is for regional list voting.e. parties with less than the “purchase price” may still receive seats according to a limited “largest remainder” formula. (2) competition between parties in regional list voting.3 The twenty regions conform to Hungary’s 19 counties plus Budapest and a total of 152 seats are distributed among these multimember constituencies (MMCs) nation-wide. there are 176 single member constituencies nation-wide. triple ballot system takes this statement to new heights. Hungary’s three-level. and (3) indirect. meaning that the “purchase price” of a seat in a region is the total number of votes cast in that region divided by the number of seats available plus one (Lijphart 1994. in order to distribute (some of) the others. Failing this. or compensatory. The number of a party’s surplus votes assigned for allotment from the national list from the SMC tier is calculated as the national sum of all votes cast in the first round of SMC balloting . Any undistributed seats after the remainder allocation are transferred to the third level (the national list) for allotment. majority-plurality system. Seats in this round are decided by simple plurality.* Parliamentary seats are allocated from (1) competition in single member constituencies. The last section summarizes the salient factors behind the choice of the system. To be eligible. i. The Electoral Law of 1989 Whilst any electoral system is a complex configuration of individual rules. based on unused (surplus) votes from the other two levels (SMC contests and regional list voting). then. Each Hungarian voter initially receives two ballots. whereas in most systems. That is. all remaining seats would be allocated to parties with the greatest surplus of votes (in descending order) the Hungarian formula limits this distribution by stipulating that a party must at least achieve twothirds of the original quota to obtain a seat in the “remainder” allocation.166 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy and bargaining strategies of the roundtable participants which lay behind the agreements to each of the individual components. A party must operate a list in a minimum of seven regions in order to establish a national list. then that candidate immediately wins the seat. Any party running candidates in one-quarter (although with a minimum of two) of the region’s SMC contests may establish a party list for that region. Seats are distributed from the national list indirectly.. Not all seats will be allocated according to the quota system. a second round of balloting is held two weeks later. is the first tier. one for the SMC contest in his home constituency and one for the party list competition in his region. the candidate with the most votes wins. if a candidate receives more than half of the votes cast in the first round.

In other words. any party awarded a regional seat with less than the Droop quota. with a minimum of 2. 152 seats in twenty regions.‘ Any party not receiving at least four percent of the national total of all regional votes cast was ineligible to receive any seats at regional level. The significant elements to be explained. CandidacyList Candidacy Rules NominatioidList Requiremenfs SMCs 750 signatures. indirect distribution unless it obtained.J. nationally. but with at least twothirds of it. plus “largest-remainder” with two-thirds limit. can be summarized in Table 1. then top 3 and all candidates with votes 15% advance to round two. if no absolute majority in first round. must make up the difference at the national level. This figure is then added to the national s m of remainder votes from the regional list voting. Schiemann: The Negotiated Origins of ihe Hungarian Electoral System 167 for its candidates who did not succeed in winning the constituency. Unallocated seats transferred to National List. D’Hondt highest-average. Similarly. Significant Elements of the Hungarian Electoral Law of 1989 General Features SMC Regional List it National L s 176 seats. Minimum of 4% of national total of regional votes. to the minimum 58 seats at the national level are added any seats not distributed at the regional level after quota and remainder allocations. Minimum of 4% of national total of regional votes. then. Cundiducy A candidate is permitted to run in all three levels simultaneously. Once the total number of seats to be awarded at national level is determined. Regional List Candidates in 25% of a Region’s SMCs.~ limited seat distribution in the 1989 system at both regional and national level. they are distributed according to the d’Hondt “highest average” m e t h ~ d A national threshold of four percent also . at least four percent of the total regional votes cast. whether in the first or in the run-off round. less any ‘debt’ owed for seats obtained in territories via the limited largest remainder. Surplus votes for National List distribution: From losers’ first round votes in SMCs and unused remainder votes in regional list voting. “Droop” quota. The Hungarian system also permits an individual to run simultaneously at all three levels: in an SMC contest.4 The number of seats to be distributed from the surplus votes is thus variable. Table I. decided by plurality. National List Must stand in a minimum of seven Regional Lists. Decision Rules SMC Two-round majority-plurality: Candidate with 50%+1 of total votes in first round obtains seat. it must ‘‘pay for” these ‘cheaper’ regional seats with nationally pooled surplus votes. no party could obtain seats through national. 58 seats. Regional List National List Surplus Votes Threshold Regional List National List . W. on a regional list and on a national list.

I am organizing the discussion according to the description of features in Table 1.’ It was this system which the MSZMP had originally intended to submit to Parliament but was forced to withdraw pending the outcome of the roundtable talks. predominantly majoritarian.’*The Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) favored a 75% SMC majority . firstly. indeed. “[s]olving this problem was one of the original purposes of the Opposition Roundtable” (Boz6ki 1993. succeeding sections examine. but possessing little more than famous party names and symbols. advocated a pure list system or. 298). the Opposition Roundtable (EKA) agreed to use the draft law drawn jointly by the communistcontrolled Ministries of Justice and of the Interior as a basis for the talks. the electoral system constituted one of its most internally divisive issues. July 25. The historical parties.168 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy Each of these individual rules have differentially distributive effects on the electoral outcome-which of the political parties and individual candidates are awarded Parliamentary seats-and the task is to explain the choice of each rule. and the relative obscurity of (even leading) figures in the opposition on the other. three-ballot hybrid system. When the MSZMP originally chose this. secondly.’ Despite the consensus on using the draft plan as the basis for discussion.” Echoing the published draft law. the agreements on multiple decision rules.4). Bargaining over the Electoral System This section reconstructs the bargaining over the most important features of the electoral law between the MSZMP and the EKA in the Middle (Intermediate) and Working (Expert) group (I/3) levels of the roundtable talks7 For the sake of clarity. July 25. the choice of candidacy and list-standing rules and. system in late May. when the t h e e sides of the National Roundtable sat down on July 25th to discuss in earnest the most important issues concerning the future electoral system. 1989).” a 1/3 SMC. national list drawing on unused/surplus votes in the SMCs (1/3 Minutes. General Features: Seats from Three Ballots and Three Levels When negotiations over the electoral system began on July 3rd. 2/3 list division (FD. the only point of agreement was that the future Parliament should be unicameral with approximately 350 seats. it hoped to capitalize on well-known MSZMP Parliamentary representatives and politicians on the one hand. as in one Independent Smallholders’ Party “compromise.” Although the EKA presented a united front vis-h-vis the MSZMP in the NRT. The first section explains the agreement to the threelevel. the MSZMP proposed to fill eighty percent (300) of the seats by SMC contests and the remainder from a compensatory. a matter to which we can now turn. recalling their victories in the 1945 and 1947 list elections.

And the one opposition goes into the second round and collects all the opposition votes and then [the MSZMP] will have that 36% of public opinion polls in vain . It would come out who is the best [in the] opposition. the opposition collects all the votes and beats the MSZMP. 1984). was particularly fond of the West German ‘mixed system’ and it was he who proposed a compromise between the two positions ( R W s z 1995. In two of the three repeat elections on August 5th. with half of the seats to come from SMCs and half from a national list.2% of the vote (Magyar Nemzet. 1989.J. creating a two-ballot system: one for the SMCs and one for party lists. 1). K Schiemann: The Negotiated Origins of the Hungarian Electoral System 169 system.13 Moreover. what is the best way to defeat them. accepting the two-ballot principle and a directly elected national list. For me that is why the SMC was politically irnportant. whilst it did well in a few SMC by-elections. however. 298-99). July 24. Although the MSZMP changed its position on the national list in the next expert committee meeting three days later.. whilst the SZDSZ as a party was barely known. however. maintain this demand for long. three of the four required repeating due to either low voter turnout (below 50%) or the lack of a majority. A series of opposition-instigated recalls and resignations of MPs forced four by-elections on July 22nd. In one of the four. And the pure SMC came to me.2).36).. it maintained its demand for the same proportions-300 to 50 (1/3 Minutes. the seats from the national list would be elected directly under the EKA plan. It did not. I thought to myself. its name was also by far the best known among the opposition parties. August 7. the MDF representative to the EKA deliberations. it was persuaded by the SZDSZ’s fears of ungovernability and proposed a more even mixture of the two (Ader 1991.14 The Hungarian Democratic Forum’s (MDF) best strategy was less clear-cut. In contrast to the MSZMP proposal. 69).16The MSZMP was quick to reconsider the value of a system that pitted an MSZMP candidate against a single representative of a . One. the EKA proposed a mixed system. These by-elections were conducted according to the old majoritarian electoral formula (Towknyek ks Rendeletek [T&R]). the opposition won these SMC contests with 70% and 62% (Magyar Nemzet. 1989. I thought about the fact that the opposition was terribly divided. for reasons of internal compromise. believing that the majority model would both prevent atomization in Parliament and present the best way to beat the MSZMP. the candidate supported by a united opposition trounced the MSZMP candidate with 69. Jbzsef Antall.” Therefore. the MSZMPers. 4). Since there was no provision in this law for a second round. its abundance of former dissidents and experts would provide it a better chance in contests where individual character counted for more than did party recognition and symbolism (Boz6ki 1993. Parliamentary byelections and public opinion polls on voter preferences in late-July and earlyAugust caused the MSZMP to reconsider its previous confidence in a predominantly SMC system. Although the Alliance of Young Democrats (Fidesz) feared that its reputation as a radical youth party would hurt it in an SMC system and originally favored a 1947 list-type system. July 28. Moreover.

because the greatest losers get the most from the compensation list. in his briefing to the MSZMP Central Committee on the status of the negotiations on July 28. clearly we too had to re-evaluate . the MSZMP began to view a compensation list as yet another insurance mechanism-this time for itself. the MSZMP began to reconsider the value of a list system. If it was going to lose in the SMCs. but also at its original proposal of a small compensation list. however. that who is known. basically it was already clearly perceptible that that logic doesn’t work. not only at the direct list. it was to save . everything. by August 15th. Moreover. that system in that form could probably not bring an electoral result. To add insult to injury. every possibility somehow. who has what kind of results. the MSZMP took another look. 1380). The MSZMP originally intended the national compensation list as a bone thrown to the opposition and consequently quickly discarded it at the EKA’s insistence on a direct list early on in the talks. 38% of MSZMP members reported that they would vote for no-one at all or for the MDF (Nbpszabadsdg. adding that “the question of a proportional division should be handled as a tactical reserve for further negotiations” (Vass 1994.... According to one. one opposition candidate could always withdraw from the second round. In the words of MSZMP electoral law expert Andrhs T6th: [Tlhere were by-elections.I~ However.170 The Roundtuble Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f united opposition. who isn’t known. The goal of this “tactical reserve” was the national compensation list. 1989. that “[wle ourselves must fundamentally think through which version has the most political utility on the basis of the experiences of the by-elections. Both indicated greater sympathy for the EKA and its constituent parties than for the MSZMP. By mid-August. in reference to the debates on the character of the electoral system. two public opinion polls published on August 11th questioned the safety of this strategy also. The MSZMP initially hoped to neutralize this problem directly by insisting that a minimum of three candidates should advance to the second round in the SMC contests. August 11. the MSZMP offered an equal balance between SMC and direct list seats in return for the reinstatement of a 50-seat national compensation list. Gyorgy Fejti noted. since the surplus votes go to the compensation list. where it had good reason to be confident that it would secure a ~1urality. There was simply a changing motivation in Hungarian society. then a compensation list would ensure that not all those votes were wasted: “It comes from the logic of the compensation list. among other things” (Kozponti Bizottsbg [KBJ Minutes. the MDF received 25% and the SZDSZ 10% to the MSZMP’s 13%. 1989. . 18 Thus..636).” Following the SMC by-election debacles. the top leadership of the MSZMP found a 50-50 split between SMC and list seats acceptable and authorized the MSZMP delegation to reach an agreement on this. again forcing a one-toone contest with all its disastrous consequences for the ruling party. 7). which would guarantee for a modern left-wing party the proper political weight in the regime change. In the light of this new information. Indeed. And well. So [the MSZMP] was already counting on this possibility. two or three.

however. Firstly. 23 1). the Smallholder’s expert. In an attempt to bridge the differences between the EKA and the MSZMP. The . but we had the feeling. to the point that we didn’t know. an indirectly elected list whose order is controlled by the party provides as good a guarantee as is possible that senior leaders succeed in obtaining a seat in Parliament. it could still count on proportional representation from the list balloting. As part of its proposal. whilst the EKA hoped to follow the 1945 and 1947 systems.”20 Meanwhile. W. Schiemann: The Negotiated Origins of the Hungarian Electoral System 171 too. proposing that a future Parliament should consist of 150 members from SMCs. in the August 22 expert committee meeting. the Third Side proposed that the MSZMP’s proportions be accepted but that the directly elected list should be county-based. 1). the MSZMP came to see both directly-elected and compensation list systems as crucial to their political survival and so came out in favor of a three-level system which combined majoritarian and PR elements. in which surplus votes were taken from the (direct) list balloting. 1). noted that in his “judgement. the MSZMP demanded that the surplus votes to be used for the national list allocation come from the SMC contests only. the MSZMP announced that it would “accede” to the EKA demand for a 50-50 split between SMC and list seats.* As a consequence.. In this question basically the principle of the smallest risk prevailed. Although the EKA welcomed the 5050 split concession and accepted the idea of a national compensation list from the MSZMP. The words of MSZMP negotiator Gyorgy Fejti in the epigraph are worth repeating here: So we ourselves went from the position of originally wanting a single member constituency system . remainder-compensation. that it actually wouldn’t be good for us so let’s push the thing in the other direction. as time went by. the MSZMP’s request to reconsider the compensation list gave the EKA leverage for obtaining an equal balance between SMC and direct-list seats. J6zsef Torgyiin. the MSZMP delegation to the talks is niuch more willing to discuss the electoral system with flexibility than previously (Torgyhn 1989. In short. the MSZMP re-introduced the idea of the national compensation list. it served their own interests as well. the new three-level system caused two new debates.. 150 directly voted for on a national list and a further 50 to be allocated from a national compensation list (Politikai Egyezteto“Thgyalcisok. the EKA took issue with the MSZMP’s idea that the directly elected list should be a national one and countered with one based on the nineteen counties and the capital. therefore. Thus. in the briefing of the August 22 meeting prepared for the EKA. on August 25th. the MSZMP proposed in general terms that the future electoral system should contain SMC. August 25. Though they recognized why the MSZMP wanted a compensation list.J. Indeed. August 22.. The EKA representatives accepted the three-part system and agreed to refer it up to the Intermediate level for approval and debate on the balance between the levels (113 Minutes. Moreover. and direct-list elements. hereafter PET kfinutes. when the Intermediate level negotiations on the electoral system resumed three days later. Secondly.

MPs submitted no fewer than 10 concrete proposals raising the number of SMCs. and on September 6th. organizations and even from individual citizens. as several MPs had already questioned “whether it was worthwhile re-convening [Parliament]” at the end of June when the government withdrew its own drafts so that the NRT could rework them (OrszdggvZsi Ertesi’tb’ [OE]. 6. all three sides agreed to a total of 70 seats in a national list and 152 in both the SMC and (county) list tiers (U3 Minutes. Tolgyessy proposed a compromise which would reduce the seats on the national compensation list by 12 to 58 and add a . There were further rumblings throughout the summer that Parliament might dissolve itself. In a hurried series of consultations in the hallway between Tolgyessy of the EKA. 4300). Prime Minister Mikl6s NCmeth and Interior Minister Istvhn Horvhth. After some tinkering then. however. 1989. Between the first committee session on October 16th and the final vote on October 20th. 4).172 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f E ! and the MSZMP agreed to this proposal and to referring the surplus vote & issue to the experts for further discussion. Working in concert with experts from the Ministry of the Interior. in preparation for the autumn session.26 In the meeting of the Law Committee that evening.22 Three days later the experts met again to discuss the “fine-tuning” of the 150-150-SO framework (U3 Minutes. 28). Parliament convened in mid-October to debate the “cardinal laws” agreed on at the NRT.23This did not.2~ Although the committee’s first position was that Parliament should pass the Roundtable draft as is. The intermediate level political committee delegates ratified this proposal later on the same day. without amendments. In the committee meetings preceding the plenary sessions representatives of the opposition and the government lobbied strongly on behalf of the Roundtable draft. met with immediate and vocal opposition from Parliamentary MPs. they were surprised at its inten~ity. in fact. local councils. June 27. In the end. Sept. the experts drafted the final version of the law which was submitted to the MPs in September. The majoritarian impulse to change the Roundtable agreement ranged from the extreme (350 SMCs and no lists of any kind) to the moderate (raising the number of both the SMCs and the regional list seats to 172 at the expense of the national compensation list)?‘ Whilst the MSZMP-led government had expected some resistance from their rubber-stamp Parliament. whilst many others supported these initiatives in general terms. agreed at the NRT and submitted in the name of the government. resistance in the first day of general debate on October 19th forced the committee to debate the proposed amendments once more. the MPs again threatened to alter the NRT agreement radically. 1989. Aug. come as much of a surprise either to the opposition or to the MSZMP-led government. The SMC-list division. directing the experts to proceed to the final codification. The majority of criticism took the form of concrete proposals to raise the number of SMCs and lower the number of seats attainable on the national compensation list. Many deputies questioned the legitimacy of the roundtable negotiations and demanded a new round of talks between the National Roundtable and Parliament.

1989. MSZMP expert And& T6th proposed a 1. 8). the experts again discussed the SMC nomination rule in the August 28th working committee. package proposal on boundary rules from each side. The MSZMP. these positions were sent to the Intermediate level committee meeting later that same day. With the number of individual constituencies agreed upon at the end of the August 25th PET meeting. a few hours later a demoralized Parliament accepted the 24-seat increase and passed the 176-52-58 compromise proposal. 20). Schiemann: The Negotiated Origins of the Hungarian Electoral System 173 further 12 to the total number of Parliamentary seats in order to raise the original number of SMC-elected members to 176. the MSZMP Government agreed to the EKA plan and the next day the Interior Minister offered it to the M p s of the Law Committee as the first of two alternatives. the opposition forces countered with an offer of 500 (U3 Minutes. August 28. As a part of the larger. The MSZMP demurred and the EKA maintained its position through to the August 25th PET meeting. Arguing in that session that the opposition had already moved seriously toward the MSZMP position with its proposal of 750 signatures. then the second alternative called for enacting the law as it was without the section regulating the seat proportions. 2 4 ) . keeping the number of regional list seats at 152. the MSZMP’s Imre Pozsgay agreed to split the difference with the EKA at 750 (PET Minutes. Although the committee agreed to submit both variations to the plenary session.J. . 81). 1989. changing its position from a uniform requirement of 1. the EKA representative urged acceptance of this offer. Still skeptical that the MPs would accept it. four hundred more than had the original June 5th draft plan (Magyar Nemzet. Candidacy and List-standing Rules Nomination Requirementfor Single Member Constituencies When the parties to the NRT first addressed the SMC nomination issue in the July 28th working group meeting. 4-6). however.000 signature requirement. October 20. where Torgyan pointed out that the EKA proposal was closer to the June 5th rule than was the MSZMP’s own plan (PETMinutes. June 5. In this session the MSZMP made a new offer. Based on the August 25th agreement regarding 150 SMCs. August 25. Shortly thereafter. offering to meet the MSZMP halfway with 750 signatures as the requirement to register a candidacy. refused to concede and all sides agreed to set the issue aside. 13). this translated into roughly 800-1 000 signatures (113 Minutes.000 signatures to 2 percent of the voters in an SMC. substituting for it a clause stipulating that a separate law would regulate the question (Jogi. Despite the previously strong resistance. July 2 8 . Aware of their organizational weaknesses. it refused to recommend either. August 28. W. If this were still unsatisfactory. The opposition responded with a larger concession.

2’ With neither side willing to concede further. proposing that a party wishing to establish a (national) list be required to run SMC candidates in a minimum of one-third of the national total of SMCs.000 signatures nation-wide in order to establish a national list. directly elected list in the July 28th expert working group meeting.000 to 58. offering one-quarter as a compromise to the EKA (PET Minutes. with the added restriction that this requirement be fulfilled in the capital and in at least four counties (U3 Minutes. August 24. the requirement would have meant running 50 to 58 SMC candidates. only so that later it should be able to make showy concessions (U3 Minutes.000 signatures nation-wide to stand a national list. The representative of the Third Side then proposed to make the requirement less than one-third and to eliminate the requirement stipulating that the SMCs be in four counties and the capital. 32). July 28.94). This concession further reduced the range to 18. Moreover. the four-county requirement would have placed a significant burden on opposition parties. Still thinking in terms of a national. “with which [the MSZMP] itself does not agree. assuming that all sides predicted SMC nomination requirements somewhere between 500 and 1000. August 25. The MSZMP’s Pozsgay immediately accepted.000. August 22. In that meeting the MSZMP modified its position.000 signatures for a national list. the issue was set aside. depending on the final number of individual constituencies. still well above the original 10. The EKA adopted the position outlined in the Interior Ministry’s draft.000.000 in the government draft plan. 3).000 to 100.27 Given that the MSZMP was estimating 150 to 175 total SMCs. this proposal would have required a political party to collect 50. Pozsgay again attempted to distance the MSZMP from the Interior Ministry proposal (PET Minutes. as was the EKA. the MSZMP proposed “parties which register at least 100 individual candidates in the capital and at least four counties” (113 Minutes. Aug.750 to 44. 91). the EKA accused the MSZMP of modifying its position. Torgyin stated that the MSZMP offer was still unacceptable because such a high number of signatures in effect amounted to pre-election open voting which would provide an opportunity for intimidation. With the nomination requirements for SMCs as yet undecided. In an expert committee meeting several days later. When both Torgyhn and Boross of the EKA again referred to the original government figure of 10. Further. and the rules were elaborated whilst it was still unclear whether the PR portion of the system would be composed of numerous regional lists or one national list. August 1. the one-third proposal would have stipulated roughly 25.28 When the Intermediate level negotiations resumed on August 24th. which called for 10. whose organizational resources were weak outside Budapest. 25. the E M ’ S Jozsef Torgyh criticized the MSZMP’s departure from the Interior Ministry’s draft plan (PET Minutes. 3 ) .174 The Roundfable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f Regional List-standing Requirements The requirements for establishing a regional list is a complex issue. These positions thus remained unchanged through six expert level meetings and into the seventh on August 22nd. In the course of the next day’s continuation of the PET talks. 4). ” .

750 to 5. whilst the EKA insisted on one-tenth of that sum. in terms of the 150-150-50 framework in force at the time. to a 25. they decided to apply the same principle to the establishment of a national compensation list. August 28. 6-7). taking Hungary’s 19 counties (plus Budapest) as the regional basis. When on August 28th the experts agreed that a party must put forward candidates in one-fourth of the regions’ SMCs to create a regional list. If we recall that the original proposals for “list standing rules” concerned national thresholds. National List-standing Requirements The requirements for establishing a national list for the allocation of seats from surplus votes is closely connected with the rule for standing in a regional party list.Schiemann: The Negotiated Origins o the Hungarian Electoral System f 175 By the next expert level session on August 28th. W.500 signatures) in order to establish a party list. this would have meant a 3.000 range (the one-third rule) and finally to an 18. the three sides decided to institute both a regional and a national list. a party was required to register candidates in one-fourth of that district’s SMCs.250 signatures threshold. however. August 28. Parliament was primarily concerned with the relationship between the number of SMCs and seats available on the national list. three would contain only four SMCs and another four only five. Assuming a 750 SMC nomination requirement. In other words. where a party would have had to run in seven SMC contests (37. Therefore.75044. Following this. and so this feature-as all other regional list features except the possibility of simultaneous candidacy (to be discussed below)-passed into law without any Parliamentary changes.J. As we saw.3’ . the MSZMP demanded 100. as just discussed. the nomination problem increased somewhat by an agreement to a three-level system at the close of the last (August 25th) intermediate level session.2). to establish a party list in a regional electoral district. 6. a party would have to run candidates in a minimum of five to seven SMCs in five counties. Given the many sparsely populated counties. a rule which Parliament retained for the 1990 elections (I13 Minutes.30In early September all sides agreed to raise this minimum number to two at Tolgyessy’s urging (PET Minutes. September 6. down significantly from the MSZMP’s original proposal. would thus have been in Budapest. Sept. to establish a national list. Drawing on the Pozsgay proposal extended in the August 25th meeting. Once again. 8). the experts from all three sides agreed to apply the one-fourth rule to the county list (I13 Minutes. The maximum threshold. 31). a party would have to run lists in at least five districts nationally to claim any seats from the national compensation list (113 Minutes. The experts now had to work out requirements for two different lists.000-58.000.000 range (the one-quarter rule). with a minimum of one for the small counties. Tolgyessy urged a reconsideration of the issue and on August 3 1st the experts agreed to raise this requirement to seven regional lists for the right to establish a national compensation list. That is. The MSZMP then conceded twice: firstly.

although it was the EKA which first proposed the idea. and a third on the national list. 42-43). every organization belonging to the EKA had one common characteristic: namely that. had this to say about the origin of the simultaneous candidacy rule: What was the reason for this? The parties did not have the personnel to run 176 individual candidates. As a result the EKA pushed for simultaneous candidacy. In con- . a better chance to make use of these rules than did the opposition. perhaps. Zolth Tbth. and not the former. a single individual may run as a candidate in only one electoral constituency. simultaneous candidacy did not run counter to the MSZMP’s interests. although the historical parties first raised the idea. two regional lists. They simply didn’t have that many people. resulting in the final value-a maximum of four candidacies per person (one SMC. the MSZMP realized that even the most well-known of opposition leaders were relatively obscure.33 Secondly. the MSZMP was well aware of the importance of simultaneous candidacy to the opposition. without exception. Moreover. Magyar and Pet0 of the SZDSZ were not opposed to the idea. and Tolgyessy. August 25.32Moreover.176 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy Simultaneous Candidacy An electoral system in which all seats are contested according to a single set of rules generally contains a default boundary rule which specifies that a person may occupy only one candidate position. and the national list). Therefore. although it might give the small opposition parties an electoral boost by allowing the few known names to underpin otherwise undistinguished party lists. much of the effect of the rule would be felt in terms of which opposition candidates won a seat in Parliament. Firstly. the twin goals of simultaneous candidacy-a guarantee for the party leadership and the ‘underpinning effect’ of popular figures on lists-were not disadvantageous to the MSZMP either. Orbhn and Ader of Fidesz. whether individual or multimember. That is. it was the latter. either in terms of advantage to the opposition or disadvantage to itself. Antall and Szabad of the MDF. they stood. which interested the MSZMP. NRT negotiators altered the default value on this rule in order to provide (1) a further guarantee that the leadership of each party would not be excluded from Parliament and (2) a mechanism which would allow weaker parties to carry regional party lists along by heading them with known personalities. arguing openly that the “significance of this is clearly that (1) the smaller political parties/groups want to ensure that their prominent leaders are elected and that (2) attractive individuals can pull the electoral list along” (PET Minutes. rather than whether a particular number gained entry. and so severely unfavorable results from the rule were unlikely. Indeed. In a zero-sum electoral game. Secondly. The demand to change this rule came from the EKA but met with limited resistance from the MSZMP. a government expert on the electoral law for the MSZMP. whilst there were intra-EKA differences on many issues giving rise to many cross-cutting alliances. party delegates to the EKA were members of the top leadership of their party. a further group on the regional lists. In other words.

W. For this ancillary rule the sides agreed that the SMC contests would take priority. the MSZMP had grown impatient for concrete results by the second half of August and the simultaneous candidacy issue presented an attractive opportunity for an MSZMP eager to reach an agreement. The results of a public opinion poll published on August 1st gave party leaders Imre Pozsgay and Mikl6s NCmeth 75% and 77% approval ratings... the MSZMP had signaled its flexibility toward some form of simultaneous candidacy already in the August 22nd expert-level meeting. August 22. the MSZMP did have several popular figures who might help to support the party lists. the latter hoped to make progress in other areas.34 Finally. then why not? This is the ‘why not’ Thus. 3).37 . but of lesser importance to the MSZMP. taking a position against it and then agreeing to it in the hopes that it would speed up the talks in other areas. it had little to lose in terms of seats to the opposition and could thereby both demonstrate its willingness to compromise and secure agreement on an issue important to the opposition. by conceding to the EKA in an issue of paramount importance to it. which do not influence the essence of the system . Nyers. In sum. When the issue was discussed in the next Intermediate-level meeting on August 25th. 4 ) The MSZMP then accepted the EKA com3. on two county (regional) lists and on the national list. the MSZMP retreated somewhat. Boross. August 25. then warned the MSZMP that the four-place limit was the result of a difficult intra-EKA compromise. 34). In that meeting the sides agreed in principle to the idea of simultaneous candidacy as they worked out ancillary rules for eliminating the possibility that one person could claim two (or more) seats. it is not worthwhile looking for trouble in questions . the SMC losses had revealed the precarious prospects of running in MSZMP color. Schiernann: The Negotiated Origins of the Hungarian Electoral System 177 trast to the opposition. including other working committees dealing with other institution^. respectively (Magyar Nernzet. August 25. though without the commitment of a promise. any candidate who won an SMC election would take that seat and have his or her name taken off the party list (U3 Minutes. Horn and other MSZMP reformers also demonstrated relatively high support. similar to the fifty-fifty division between list and SMC seats (PETMinutes. 1989. the EKA offered the following compromise to the MSZMP: a limit on simultaneous candidacy to four places-in one SMC.J. The Smallholders’ representative. August 1. Moreover. implicit acceptance of simultaneous candidacy:. promise proposal.^^ ‘‘rfwe can agree in the fundamental matters. taking the tougher line that the “parties should decide ahead of time whether they wished to run a candidate in an SMC or on a list” (PETMinzrtes. whilst the MSZMP stood to gain from simultaneous candidacy. prior to the August 25th agreement on the general proportions of the three tiers. Moreover.. Indeed. as discussed above. After protesting that the MSZMP had reneged on its previous. the MSZMP handled this question as a tactical way of demonstrating compromise.. 4). and simultaneous candidacy provided an extra guarantee against the vagaries of voter preferences in both SMC and list balloting for top party leaders.

Each is discussed in turn. and representation threshold requirements. however. indeed. Finally. adopted by France’s Fifth Republic. Two-round Majority-Plurality System There are three main types of majority-plurality formulae to decide seats in SMCs (Lijphart 1984. participation in the second round is restricted to those candidates with at least 12. the candidate with the most votes wins the seat. or the number of seats per constituency. Put to an open vote on October 20th. A pure majority system demands that the winning candidate should command a majority. more MPs voiced support for an amendment which would limit multiple candidacy at regional level to one list instead of two. constituency size. second round in which the top two contenders from the first round compete head-to-head. In the simple plurality rule. run-off round. first-past-the-post system. there is the majorityplurality system. 151). if necessary by holding a run-off. did not. Such was the case in Hungary. . 1989.5 124). In the French system. Already suspicious of the national list as guaranteeing seats for party leaders. 155). Electoral Decision Rules There are three sets of decision rules in an electoral system: formulae or algorithms translating votes into seats. a plurality wins the seat in the second. it is. Electoral formulae have significant distributive effects by determining which candidates and parties obtain Parliamentary seats. IV/62.178 The Rozmdtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis ofHirngarian Democracv Parliament. this amendment was passed. allowing simultaneous candidacy in one place at all three levels (Ok. therefore. Constituency size-the number of seats per constituency-also affects the distributive effects of electoral decision rules. there are two additional rules which affect the final outcome: thresholds or limits set on the representation of smaller parties on the regional and national lists. a party with a thirty percent plurality might win in a single-poll. necessary to examine decisions taken on both the size of the electoral constituencies as well as the decision rule used to decide the seats within them at each level. several representatives protested that providing four chances “guaranteed ahead of time that party-selected candidates would be smuggled into Parliament against the will of the people. In addition to these decision rules tied directly to each level. Each system has important distributive consequences.5% of the vote in the first round.”38In the course of the plenary and committee debates from the 16th to the 20th of October. in which an absolute majority in the first round takes the seat. In explaining the origin of the various decision rules used in Hungary’s three-level system. but lose against fewer opponents in a second round among a restricted field where secondary and tertiary preferences can be expressed. “the size of constituencies is much more important in this respect than the specific PR formula” (Lijphart 1984. failing this. whether that sum is a majority or plurality.

^^) Experts from both the Interior Ministry and the MSZMP’s own Central Committee prepared several alternative electoral systems for the party to consider: the drafts discussed above and also a two-ballot system divided equally between SMC and list seats and virtually identical to what the EKA later proposed. three days later. Because it was unlikely that. 1989. July 25. nevertheless.2). in the first meeting of the negotiations on the distributive elements of the electoral system. The two main features of the system which resulted from the negotiations-the two-round. the wrangling over these issues produced the most explicit example of “horsetrading” in the entire discussions about the electoral law. As a consequence. and because the MSZMP believed itself capable of taking a plurality contest against a divided opposition. Indeed. That is. any single nominee would be able to attain 50 percent of the first-round votes. should advance to round two. W. Schiemann: The Negotiated Origins of the Hungarian Electoral System 179 where a ruling. The MSZMP looked for this barter deal in the aftermath of its surprising losses in the SMC by-elections of July 22nd. it updated its beliefs on what constituted the best way for it to win in the individual constituencies and changed its bargaining offer accordingly. the top two vote winners in the first round would advance to the second round. the character of the SMC system was one of the most difficult stumbling-blocks on the road to an agreement on the electoral law. (We should recall that the top leadership of the MSZMP selected the draft used as the basis for negotiations with the EKA on May 26th. but a minimum of three. represented a threat were it able to unite. two months prior to the by-election^. dominant party faced a fragmented opposition. Therefore. The two-ballot system he proposed to rule out. as it was “disadvantageous for the MSZMP. majority-plurality system and taking the first round as the basis for calculating surplus votes-were closely linked in the roundtable negotiations and will be discussed together also. which. the MSZMP experts moved quickly to change their position.J. the MSZMP proposed to alter only one element from the draft-the rule for advancing to the second round-and stated explicitly that its position in all other issues mirrored the draft plan (1. then any candidate receiving over 15 percent of the frrst round votes.4’ According to this amendment. failing this. The draft also stipulated that votes wasted in the first round of SMC competition would be totalled nationally for allocation from a national list.”40The published draft plan called for a two-round. When the MSZMP lost the July 22nd by-election against a united opposition (in an SMC contest according to majoritarian rules identical to those which it was proposing).3Minutes. and it is this “logrolling” which is responsible for Hungary’s relatively rare majority-plurality system. any candidate receiving a majority in the first round won the seat. pure majority decision rule in SMCs. among three or more candidates. the MSZMP proposed a plurality decision rule for deciding seats in the run-off round:* . co-ordinator of the MSZMP negotiating team. Gyorgy Fejti. if no candidate received a majority in the first round. at that time proposed to the party leadership that it support an SMC system as its main position. where a majority would decide the seat.

J6zsef Torgyin. drew the same conclusion as the MSZMP from the by-election results. which would surely mean the opposition’s success” (TorgyBn 1989. the question emerged as to what should serve as the basis for these surplus votes to be used to allocate seats on the national list. despite its many other concessions in that session. the first or second. whilst the EKA held that the presence of independent candidates in the SMCs meant that surplus votes should be drawn from the regional lists. in the August 25th Intermediate level session. This hardening of position among the experts forced the issue up to the Intermediate Level meeting of August 25th. for its part. Indeed. therefore. In a position paper prepared for the EKA. 5 ) . draft law serving as a basis for the talks takes our position as its starting point as well” (TorgyBn 1989. under such rules of the game. one of its expert’s. departing from the government draft. following the government draft plan. as the case may be. 5). of the seven political parties intending to run in the elections and sitting on the EKA side. Torgyin went on to declare that the MSZMP’s position was “unacceptable because it would divide the opposition” (TorgyBn 1989. proved Torgyan’s expectations wrong by refusing to concede. as the MSZMP (correctly) anticipated that most SMC seats would be decided in the second round. however.. The EKA.180 The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis of Himng~rian f Democracy Although the EKA immediately protested against this proposed change as a blatant attempt to design the law to the MSZMP’s advantage. up to five would lose all their surplus votes . noted that “the advantage of this system for us is that. the MSZMP held that the surplus votes from the SMCs should come from the round in which the seat was decided. argued for employing votes lost in SMC contests for national list allocation. It further assumed that it would pick up at least some second-preference votes in the run-off so that. 4). even if it lost in the second round. This would mean that. Moreover. the latter maintained its position throughout the August Expert meetings. Torgyin expected the MSZMP to concede on this point and. it would be able to increase the total number of votes it sent to the national list. Both the MSZMP and the Third Side. The MSZMP. This was fundamentally a proposal to take the surplus votes from round two. The MSZMP proposed the change because it was confident that its candidates would make the top three in the first round and hence advance to the run-off round. the three sides agreed to add a national compensation list level to the SMC and PR levels.43 Surplirs Votes In the meantime a new debate emerged.. emphasizing that the . When. an opposition candidate would have to be one of the candidates in the second round and in this way the candidate of the opposition would be pitted against the candidate of the MSZMP. Thus. when the talks reconvened on the 25th the EKA again charged the MSZMP with altering the second round advancement rule in the light of the by-election results. considered “it important to stick to [the] original proposal.

Imre Pozsgay of the MSZMP offered to raise the percentage required to advance to the second round to 25 from 15 percent. The E M also maintained their demand that only the top two should advance and that only the first round be used for compensation. but retaining the minimum of three candidates.J. Schiemann: The Negotiuted Origins of the Hungarian Electoral System 181 from SMCs. this the MSZMP accepted (PET Minutes. the decision rule adopted for allocating seats from regional lists emerged as a function of constituency size within the regions. In his presentation to this meeting on August 28th. and the EKA held out in its demand that the first round be used for all SMC contests. Following a 5-minute break to think over both issues. The experts made no greater progress than had their Intermediate level counterparts. 32). it agreed to include also surplus votes from the regional list and proposed to send the entire question back down to the expert working group for more detailed mathematical consideration. When the EKA protested against the MSZMP’s SMC. only the results of the first round of voting. Regional List Decision Rule Whereas the debate on the decision rule for SMC contests revolved around the plurality-majority formula and took constituency size as given. The higher-level agreement to (1) assign approximately 150 seats to the directly-elected list level combined with (2) determination that the direct list system be divided into electoral constituencies based on . as an SMC compensation basis. where seats were decided in the second round. Although the MSZMP maintained that. W. that round should be used as the basis for surplus transfer. second round proposal. linked together the decision rule for advancing to the second round and the compensation basis to be used for the national list. the MSZMP continued to adhere to the 15 percent or “top three” rule for the second round advancement rules and to using the second round as a basis for compensation. Going into the meeting. however. the other parties were less sure. With this deal the parties to the roundtable negotiations established several of the key characteristics of the SMC level (the two-round majority-plurality system and the rules for advancing to the second round) as well as a feature profoundly affecting the national list level-using the first round as the basis for calculating surplus votes-which would later be passed into law unchanged by Parliament. The EKA immediately accepted this idea but insisted that the SMC surplus votes come from the first round only. Whilst the MDF could reasonably have hoped to make the run-off. providing an opportunity for log-rolling which was not overlooked. and the question reappeared on the agenda of the August 28th Intermediate level meeting. the Third Side suggested a compromise which would allow compensation from both the list and from the SMCs. Andriis Tbth. irrespective of whether a second round was necessary. August 28. the MSZMP expert. The EKA then requested its own break and came back offering the deal to the effect that it would accept the original MSZMP proposal of “15 percenthop three” if the MSZMP would accept using.

4~ Parties obtaining seats by “largest remainder” would then have to make up the difference from their surplus votes pooled nationally. however. the EKA suggested. in Somogy county. for example. representatives from all sides at the Intermediate session agreed to the expert proposal.182 The Roiriidtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f the counties (and Budapest) made it difficult to achieve both proportionality and an equitable seat-to-vote ratio. September 6. Forced to work within the county-based system (and hence low constituency size).” Firstly. September 6. In the August 28th expert working group meeting the EKA’s Pkter Tolgyessy presented calculations to show that low population density in the provinces would cause serious distortions in assigning seats. 41-42. it would be impossible to distribute them proportionally. with unfilled seats. the experts agreed to send the EKA‘proposal. 4). The second part of the EKA plan. to the Intermediate level for ratification. the three sides made a final alteration under pressure from the Third Side. 54-55). assumption that there would be more than six parties competing in the elections. Later that day. to the national pool (U3 Minutes. presenting the experts with a serious problem.44Seats unallocated due to parties having vote totals below the necessary quota would then be allocated by “largest remainder” basis to parties in descending order of remainder votes. votes not used to obtain a seat at regional level would also be transferred. If the seat-to-population ratio were to remain proportional across constituencies. often fewer than five seats. this means that a party would have to attain at least two-thirds of the quota to obtain the seat on the county list.three times the number of votes as the first (U3 Minutes.4).3 Minutes. proposed to impose a limit on seats distributed by “largest remainder”. According to this mechanism. The first amendment specified that seats unfilled in the county due to an inability to compensate nationally would go to the national list for distribution rather than simply remain unfilled. Should the party be unable to make up the difference nationally. August 28. rather than from the national . The MSZMP requested time to deliberate on this and in their next meeting on September 6th. although one might have almost . According to the second. 2). however. August 3 1. which wanted more seats to be distributed at county level. This two-thirds limit was invented by EKA representative Tolgyessy to prevent parties from obtaining seats too easily at the county le~e1.46The third element of the EKA proposal is the uniquely Hungarian ‘slipping’ mechanism to dispose of any seats remaining after this “largest remainder” allocation. very likely. then the seat would remain unfilled (I. two parties would each receive one seat. but would prevent small parties from obtaining seats “on the cheap. with two amendments. on August 3 1st the EKA proposed a method which would allow most seats to be allocated in the counties. the divisor to establish the quota should be the number of seats plus one (Droop). declaring consensus on the electoral law in all but minor details (PETMinutes. At the last expert meeting before the signing of the agreement on September 18th. then many of Hungary’s sparsely populated counties would end up with short lists. On the. any seats unallocated after both the quota and (limited) largest remainder distribution are “sent upstairs” to the national list for allocation at that level.

October 2. though smaller than the MSZ(M)P. The EKA’s representative on this subcommittee was Tolgyessy. 4-5).. as called for previously (I/3 Minutes. 4). The d’Hondt favors large parties more. 8). 2). and both the MSZMP and the EKA implicitly thought in terms of this formula when they agreed to the three-level system on August 25th:* In a position paper prepared for the August 3 1st expert meeting where the EKA laid out its position on decision rules for both the regional and national lists. in per- . with the EKA representative also in favor of a decision rule more advantageous to larger parties.”49It is important to recall that participation in the NRT talks had catapulted the EKA parties to prominence in the national media and that the referendum campaign following the end of the NRT in the autumn of 1989 boosted their publicity even further. Thus. Within a proportional system.J. One week after the formal signing of the agreement. October 9. electoral thresholds are generally viewed as a type of boundary rule limiting the number of small parties which achieve representation. but which were unable to compensate from their national pool. however. Thresholdsfor Regional and National Lists As the term ‘threshold’ implies. the MSZMP announced that it wished to depart from the previous agreement and proposed that the d’Hondt system be employed for the national list in order “to avoid as much as possible . the EKA proposed to use the Hare quota (U3 Minutes. National List Decision Rule There was initially little debate over the allocation formula to be used for distributing seats on the national list. the experts agreed to the d’Hondt system currently used for allocating seats from the national list (U3 Minutes. but beware of proportionality. August 3 1. In other words. September 18. September 25. the ability to obtain a seat on the national list with too few votes” (U3 Minutes. who felt “let there be proportionality. these parties.. the EKA parties were not opposed to inclining its distributive bias in favor of larger parties. were larger than the numerous smaller parties which did not participate at the NRT but which represented competition in the coming elections. to receive the seat at the county level nevertheless. The government draft plan called for a Hare quota with “largest remainder” to allocate seats from the national compensation list. When the experts met again one week later they agreed to set up a mathematical subcommittee to examine the question and then propose a solution based on the subcommittee’s recommendation (U3 Minutes. September 6. K Schiernann: The Negotiated Origins o the Hungarian Electoral System f 183 list:’ This amendment allowed those parties which obtained seats by “largest remainder” allocation. This is usually accomplished via some minimum requirement. 2). Appendix: 2). When the MSZMP agreed to the Hare quota in the September 6th expert committee meeting the question seemed settled without any debate (U3 Minutes. As a result. the seat would not be sent “upstairs” to the national list.

3). They are. every one of them planned to run independent party lists in the elections. Even in the euphoria following the EKA’s foundation in late-March. in terms of the electoral threshold. the MSZMP had agreed to a directly elected list system. second stage. save for the MDF. The result was the unified EKA position in favor of a lower threshold. not one. there was never any talk about a unified opposition coalition against the MSZMP. each party had to think about its effect on individual. whilst large parties may benefit from high thresholds. Referring to the need for governability. although the EKA parties presented a unified negotiating position in the NRT and collaborated in a few byelections. small parties. as well as pressure within the EKA for a low threshold by the historical parties.184 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy centage terms. even if they might co-operate in those SMC contests where an opposition candidate faced a single MSZMP opponent. 30). produced the final outcome of four percent for allocation on both regional and national lists. Equal concessions by both sides. decision rules determine which candidates become legislators and the effects of thresholds are felt at this. Although all the parties within the EKA were small. Thus. up to the end of the August 25th Intermediate level session. nevertheless. they expected the MSZMP to remain a large party and so pushed for a higher limit. however. Once. MSZMP negotiators never viewed their party as weak enough to be adversely affected by a high electoral threshold. Neither version of the June 5th drafts designated a threshold for the fifty-seat compensation list. who could reasonably expect more than 10% of the future vote). and to this degree it does function as a barrier to exclude smaller parties. however. of the total votes. usually between one and eight percent. Each list level-direct and compensation-used a four percent threshold in 1990. In the context of an electoral institution. thresholds are more accurately viewed as decision rules. Thus. in contrast. however. but do so at the expense of smaller parties. the threshold requirement for being awarded list seats quickly emerged as a contentious issue. the MSZMP cited the German model and opened with a proposal of five percent (U3 Minzites. were uniformly small and weak (with the exception of the MDF.^' The NRT negotiations on the threshold issue mirrored this difference in interests between large and small parties-twice. as internally divided on the threshold is- . July 28. Electoral boundary rules regulate how individuals and political groups come to occupy the position of candidate. they were. the negotiators expected to have only one list level and hence only one threshold. they have potentially fatal consequences for small parties and the latter will push for lower threshold^. Indeed. Higher thresholds promote governmental stability by reducing Parliamentary fragmentation. It is important to remember that. thus they constitute two decision rules. It is a community of interests (Richter 1990. Their opposition interlocutors. As an SZDSZ representative to the EKA’s deliberations put it: “The Opposition Roundtable is not an electoral coalition and it did not emerge with the demand for a later governing coalition. discussed together because the decision to apply the limit to the national list was based on the regional list limit. Even in their most pessimistic predictions.

August 28. “It was impossible to bring the Smallholders to the conclusion that they should give up the proportional idea” and the situation was the same with the other re-formed historical parties. offering to raise the threshold from three to four percent. the MSZMP delegation discussed the threshold issue and agreed to four percent. August 25. the experts met on August 28th to discuss the remaining issues. as the EKA discussed the bargain it would offer to the MSZMP on the SMC second round advancement rule.. 102). August 28. The MSZMP agreed to the national requirement for regional allocation. Schiemann: The Negotiated Origins of the Hungarian Electoral System 185 sue as they had been on the general proportions of the system.53 MSZMP agreed. the Smallholders’ Boross argued for the new EKA proposal of four percent.. the historical parties considered a low threshold to be an integral element of the 1945. Nevertheless. The With the broad features of the system agreed upon three days earlier.51In contrast. August 3 1. but repeated its demand of five percent.. including the threshold for the regional list. Indeed.7’52 Thus. The MSZMP and EKA positions remained unchanged throughout the greater part of August and into the August 25th Intermediate middle-level PET session. Hence. Appendix. 125). 11). When the MSZMP’s Pozsgay agreed on the SMC nomination issue. national. they too worried about their own parties’ chances and “that it ended up being four percent. July 27. the EKA invoked the Swedish model and advocated a three percent limit (PETMinutes. At the end of that session. 32).J. The EKA moved in the MSZMP’s direction in this meeting.. three percent. the experts agreed to include the threshold issue in the PET package proposal containing the SMC and list-nomination requirements discussed earlier. Several days later. largely due to the Fidesz and SZDSZ fear that they wouldn’t even get into Parliament . new parties such as Fidesz and the SZDSZ pushed for a higher threshold of five percent from a fear of Parliamentary and governing instability. the experts agreed to apply the same. In the PET session later the same day. It appeared that even four would be hard . as yet undecided. Later. four percent limit to seat allocation from the national list also (U3 Minutes. August 28. Torgyin of the EKA argued that the threshold question was too closely tied to the. 1947 proportional systems to which they were so closely wed. as well as whether the list would be county or nationally based.. in order to be eligible for seat allocation in the region (U3 Minutes. After both sides had presented their (unchanged) positions. W. and so should be deferred until these questions had been settled (PET Minutes. Pozsgay announced that the MSZMP would accept the EKA’s offer of a four percent threshold also (PETMinutes. 7). extracting it from the rest of the package. requiring a party to have least four percent of all votes cast on regional lists nationally. prepared to go to four percent. upon agreeing to the deal with the EKA over the second-round advancement rules in the SMCs and the surplus vote basis. claiming that the opposition had moved significantly toward the MSZMP’s position by “cut[ting] the difference in two” (PET Minutes. We were afraid of five.. he requested a delay to the decision on the threshold issue. in August the SZDSZ rose to two. . questions of the general balance between list and SMC tiers. is .

an internally diverse opposition coalition proposed a system which would distribute Parliamentary seats more broadly and more proportionally by arranging for half of the seats to be elected from a national list with a high constituency size. when it had updated and changed these expectations on the basis of new information. When the MSZMP felt that it would have a majority in the elections. there was little uncertainty about the distributive effects of. Although there were some complaints that the threshold was too low in the Parliamentary committee meetings. the deepening economic and political crisis coupled with the . the opposition parties bargained for-and obtained-lower values on the boundary rules and favorable values on decision rules such as the regional list quota and the basis for compensation votes. Majoritarian electoral systems concentrate power in the hands of the largest parties. Hedging against uncertainty explains only the broadest features of the system. The reason why the opposition was able to extract these concessions from the MSZMP is to be found in the ruling party’s impatience to wind up the talks. The MSZMP’s ‘concession’ to the relatively even balance was. it immediately switched its preferences to a system which distributed political power (Parliamentary seats) more broadly. and this was withdrawn before it came to a vote (Jelentis 289 1989. Once the opposition and the MSZMP had settled the broad outlines of the electoral system and the talks turned to the rules within each level. 11). Unsure ex ante what its expost position would be. there was only one f o m d amendment to raise it. motivated as much by their attempts to hedge against uncertainty following their loss in SMC by-elections as by the necessity to concede to the EKA parties. and by choosing a “largest remainder” formula and a four percent threshold. the MSZMP eventually agreed to features which would benefit weaker parties also. Enjoying between 32% and 37% of support between March and July 1989-a relative majority among all political parties-the MSZMP had hoped to compete in elections under a fundamentally majoritarian formula (Tokks 1996. 373). for example. such as the national compensation list. the boundary rules admitting and excluding parties and individuals from candidacy or the decision rules within each tier. 2). however. Summary If one compares the final product of the roundtable negotiations with the initial preferences of the EKA and the MSZMP. In contrast. Consequently. the system which emerged from the NRT and used in the elections of 1990 more closely matched the hybrid system combining half list PR and half majoritarian SMC seats proposed by the EKA than it did the MSZMP’s original draft plan calling for a system with 80% of the seats to be elected in two-round SMC contests and only 20% from PR balloting.186 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Deniocracy p. certainly. it proposed an overwhelmingly majoritarian system which would concentrate power in the hands of the largest party.

and new political parties to maximize their political power in the future Parliament by creating an institution which they believed would achieve this end. 7 This section is based on archival materials of the National Roundtable Negotiations. see Taagepera and Shugart (I 989: 32). 9 This draft proposal was really two. The written transcripts to the middle level will be cited as (PET Mnzr/es. It is clear from both the written transcripts to the negotiations and interviews with MSZMP and EKA participants that the Third Side could not veto agreements between the EKA and the MSZMP. the opposition organizations required time to build up their organizations. of meeting). which kindly extended administrative support in 1995 and in 1997. page number). Notes 1 This chapter is based on a larger study of the choice of political institutions in the Hungarian National Roundtable Talks (Schiemann 1999) as well as a paper with Kenneth Benoit (Benoit and Schiemann 2001). transcripts to the expert working group will be cited similarly: (U3 Minu~es. Whilst version A was a relatively straightforward majority system complemented by a small compensation list. All page numbers refer to the archival edition. S For an explanation of the d’Hondt system.s4 In short. 4 Another way to think of this is as a ‘negative vote transfer’ from the region to the national level. page number). Schiemann: The Negotiated Origins of the Himngarian Electoral System 187 MSZMP’s internal collapse made it eager for an agreement as quickly as possible. they reacted in the predicted manner by choosing institutions which would share power in multiple ways. see Benoit (1998. date. political actors attempted to cement their distributive advantage rule by rule. version B called for a combination of single and multi-member constitu- . cited here as (FD. 1989: 8-9. When. the complex and patchwork Hungarian electoral institution is the by-product of a struggle by leaders of old. 2 For the text of the law see Magyar K6zl6ny (October 30. emerge from conflicting grand designs. in numerous and often creative ways. June 5 . section two contained two alternative procedures. of the only two features which the MSZMP managed to obtain. and the Smith Richardson Foundation. their view of their ex post positions became clouded by uncertainty. 3 Third in type but chronologically cast simultaneously with the first round of SMC balloting. the International Research and Exchanges Board. 1993. For this reason I all but ignore them in the analysis of the negotiations which follows. I am also indebted to Mkrta Elbert for access to Fekete Doboz’s collection of videotapes of the meetings of the Opposidate tion Roundtable. I thank Ken for our many discussions about the Hungarian electoral law and for making an interview with Zolthn Tdth available to me. one was the result of a deal (the SMC run-off rule) and the other (the d’Hondt method for the national list allocation algorithm) lost its favorable impact with the opposition’s addition of the “slipping mechanism” which added regional seats to the national seat total. Meanwhile. 8 Published in Mugyar Nemzef. I am grateful to Liszl6 Bruszt for making them available to me. and so they were willing to wait longer for an eventual agreement. however. Institute of Sociology. collected by Lhszld Bruszt and David Stark. reconstituted. date. I am also grateful to MTA Politikatudomhnyi IntCzet. 6 Act 111 1994 raised the threshold to five percent on December 22. labeled A and B. Moreover. W. Instead. Research for this paper was partly supported by the American Council of Learned Societies. however. 1989: 1305-29).J. Budapest. This institution did not. and their political support grew as the summer wore on. For more on the operation and consequences of the system. 1996).

1995 and July 31. July 20. Interviews. August 29. Deputy Minister of Justice and a member of the MSZMP Intermediate-level negotiating team until the end of August reported that it was “horribly difficult” to persuade the deputies not to throw out the entire agreement or to resign their seats altogether. and interviews make it clear that the MSZMP did in fact make all the crucial political decisions about institutions at least through the conclusion of the roundtable. 1995). Igazgatasi.” (Interview. August 3 1: Appendix). 17 The SMC second round advancement rule is discussed in more detail below. July 3. Government draft plans. the minutes of the plenary sessions on the 19th and 20th (OE. as did SZDSZ expert PCter Tolgyessy. 1995. MSZMP expert Zoltan Tbth and negotiator Gyorgy Fejti echoed this statement. August 30. Deak Room. As Istvan Kukorelli. a spokesman and participant for the ‘Third Side’. Library of the Hungarian Parliament.. so that there should be a visible alternative. 19 Interview with MSZMP expert Zolthn Tbth. July 12. 25 GCza Kilenyi. 22 The surplus vote basis issue is discussed separately below. July 21. 27 Recall that at this point. that the rate of votes getting into the dustbin would be the least possible. in what follows “draft plan” refers to the MSZMP’s preferred Version A. called them decoys. The latter version was not taken seriously in the NRT or even within the MSZMP. 1994. put it.312 and 313. July 31.” Interview. 12 See also the July 10 EKA meeting (FD. which is proportional in its distributional effects. June 19. 18 Interview. s 24 See the minutes of the Jogi. 1989). 10 The expert level committee worked out most of the procedural details (contained in sections I and 111) within the first month (113 Minutes. Politburo documents. 13 Interview with SZDSZ expert Peter Tolgyessy. Tolgyessy claimed that he pushed for a more restrictive limit upon his return from vacation because he feared that the large number of small counties would allow many small parties to establish national lists too easily-increasing the competition among opposition parties for national list seats. 1995. 19 1989). 1995. 15 It should be pointed out that Antall seems to have misunderstood the German system. Consequently. Istvan SoltCsz. 1995. August 16. 28 The MDF excepted. 26 Amendments to other rules are discussed below. 11 Interviews with MSZMP expert Andras Toth. August 30. August 30. the reand 20 (Jogi 1989). as was the system he proposed. 23 For a summary of these non-MP initiatives. The figure 28 for Budapest is drawn from an appendix on the breakdown of electoral constituencies prepared Z3 by the Interior Ministry’s Elctoral Office ( / Minutes. Imre Pozsgay was just as explicit: “We calculated the possibility that perhaps we were going to be a defeated party. ports of the Law Committee numbered 289. see the lctter to MPs from the Main Secretary of Parliament. 1995. 3 1 In an interview. . 16 The third election was again invalidated by low voter turnout. 20 Interview with MSZMP leader Imre Pozsgay. 1994 and Imre Pozsgay. October 4. as well as the extensive coverage in the national dailies. . June 20. not majoritarian.188 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Htmnguriun Democracy encies. As the MSZMP had originally pushed for greater restrictions. 29 It is perhaps worthwhile to clear up a common point of conhsion on the relationship between the MSZMP and the government in 1989. Interview. 1995. 1995. it readily agreed to the change. the MSZMP was still thinking in terms of national lists for both direct and compensation list tiers. so [the experts] were to create the method of calculation that made it possible for us to lose the least votes. 17. respectively. 1995. 1989: 12). 30 This is calculated by assuming 28 SMCs in Budapest and 750 signatures for each SMC. 1995. July 12. C lgazsagugyi Bizottsag sessions on October 16. 1995. Central Committee briefings. July 10. “there were some decoy proposals. 1995. 1989. 21 Interview. Dr. 14 Ader was the FIDESZ expert in the I/3 working committee on the electoral law and confirmed this in an interview August 25. July 3.

See Taagepera and Shugart (1989) and Lijphart (1994) for the general relationship between constituency size and electoral formulae. 1995. Interview. refused to consider a linking of the Presidency with any other issue. Fejti Gyiirgy. 4 1 Though it would later modify many of the elements in the government draft. 1995. That EKA expert Tolgyessy is the author of the regional list formula was confirmed in interviews with the two MSZMP electoral law experts as well as top MSZMP negotiators Pozsgay and Fejti. 52 Interview with EKA expert PCter Tolgyessy. July 3. In MOL 288. the MSZMP later had doubts about the SMC level as a whole and contested a direct PR list level as well. thereby hurting smaller parties (Lijphart 1994. Dehk Room. July 3. 1995. national list. Nevertheless. The order of primacy is thus SMC. for example. after the discussion about the threshold. For counterfactual computer simulations showing that the allocation formula made little difference on the national list see Benoit and Schiemann (1999). 3). 1989. 1995. 1995. July 3.23). 45 Interview with PCter Tolgyessy. September 18. W. 34 MSZ(M)P leaders I v h Vithnyi and Magda KbshC Kovhcs.. July 21. 48 The Hare quota is given by the total number of votes cast in a constituency divided by the number of seats in the constituency (q=v/m). Schiemann: The Negotiated Origins of the Hungarian Electoral System 189 32 Nor were they mistaken about the need for an insurance mechanism: Tolgyessy and Ferenc Koszeg of the SZDSZ. 5 1 Interview with EKA expert PCter Tolgyessy. for example. 40 “Javaslat a Politikai Bizottsignak a koztarsasagi elnoki. submitting an amendment to the draft electoral law. as well as Pozsgay himself. .e. 1995. where the number of seats began at 58 but would grow with unallocated regional list seats. 36 Interview with MSZMP expert And& Toth. 50 Large parties may benefit.PB 1989. 47 Interview with MSZMP expert Zolthn T6th by Kenneth Benoit. lost in their SMC contests but were saved by the national list (Szoboszlai 1990. 35 Especially the institution of President of the Republic. 2. May 26. p. July 12. the sides agreed that if a candidate won a seat from a regional list. 46 Nor would a by-election be held to fill it. regional list.23). July 3.1995. 1995. Library of Parliament. July 3. Orbhn and Gabor Fodor of FIDESZ. all noted that the MSZMP continually attempted to bargain away elements of the electoral law for concessions on the institution of the Presidency.” May 24. 39 Though MSZMP’s Pozsgay would later claim in the talks that the government draft was not the position of the MSZMJ?. The emphasis is Toth’s. 105. by picking up seats that would have otherwise gone to a locally strong.598-599). MSZMP expert And& Tbth echoed this statement in an interview. but nationally weak party. President of Parliament.ES/1066. The E m . 43 Tolgyessy claims that he felt this was a point which was non-negotiable for the MSZMP and to which the EKA would have to concede. f. 1989.539. In interviews. 54 Distributional differences between PR formulae collapse when constituency sizes are high. 49 Interview. 38 Letter from MP Jbzsef Polghrdi to Matyb S&6s. 53 The 150-150-50 division was agreed to only at the very end of this PET session. EKA expert Tolgyessy. hisher name would be deleted from the other regional list and the national list (1/3 Minutes. MSZMP experts And& Tbth and Zolthn Tbth. July 21. their fust reaction was to alter only the rules of the SMC level. See Lijphart (1994. and Gyorgy Ruttner of the Social Democrats-all top members of their parties and participants in EKA and the NRT-lost in the SMC contests and were saved by either the regional or the national list (Szoboszlai 1990. June 27. he gave ‘why not’ further emphasis by enunciating it in English the second time.J. 42 As discussed above.458. OrszAggyiilCsi kepviseloi 6s a tanacstagi vilaszkisokkal kapcsolatos kerdesekben kialakitandb dlitsfoglalitsra. 37 On September 18th. 33 Interview. however. 44 This formula produces a slightly lower quota than the Hare quota and hence somewhat more disproportional results because it lowers the number of seats to be allocated by remainder and hence wastes more remainder votes. 1995.455-599). October 1 I. MSZMP negotiator Fejti. as was the case with the national list.

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ROUNDTABLE TALKS IN CONTEXT: HISTORICAL AND COMPARATIVE ANALYSES The Role of Non-elite Forces in Hungary’s Negotiated Revolution Alnn Renwick‘ Introduction The democratic transition that took place in Hungary in 1989 has often been styled ‘the negotiated revolution’? It has been so called because of the fundamental importance of the role played in the transition process by negotiations between the ruling communist party. it is not possible for me to consider all of these factors in the present paper. Many factors. To take only the domestic side as an example. Instead. that role was significant. Of course. I focus only upon the last factor mentioned-the behavior and opinions of the Hungarian people during the course of the transition. both domestic and international. in fact. but has generally been underplayed.3. it carries the potential to mislead: it may be taken to suggest that the only important events in the Hungarian transition process occurred at the negotiating table and that the only important actors during that process were those who sat around that table. but also the complexities of elite and mass political culture and the specificities of the behavior and opinions of the Hungarian people during the negotiations. contributed to the Hungarian democratic transition. this was not the case. Rudolf Tokks. The analysis of the role of non-elite behavior in the Hungarian transition process is important for two reasons. however. and. the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party (MSZMP) and the Opposition Roundtable (EKA). Hungary’s negotiated revolution can be understood only if other factors are given a prominent place in the analysis. In fact. The significance of non-elite behavior will be seen in the remainder of this paper. for example. writes that the Hungarian transition “was managed and brought to fruition by both the outgoing and the incoming political elites of . focused almost exclusively upon the role of elites. First. while this appellation is apt. a full analysis of the transition must take into account not only the detailed story of the negotiations and the personalities involved in them. Most analyses of the Hungarian transition have. I argue in this paper that.

some authors have argued that this focus has gone too far and that the role of non-elite forces needs to be given greater recognition. I also take the analysis beyond the close of the national roundtable negotiations in September 1989 to include the referendum two months later. I argue that it gives powerful backing to the claim made by Scott Mainwaring. and that it constitutes. . be filled if we take into account the activity (and inactivity) of the broader Hungarian public during 1989. and. More specifically. Both elite and non-elite forces played a vital part. I argue. It was this referendum which ensured that the institutional framework existed which allowed the first free. and the fact that it was possible for the negotiations to proceed throughout the summer of 1989 with little disturbance from outside forces. Robert Jerkins argues that “broad social pressures played only a small role in propelling the Hungarian transition. seeking a deeper understanding of the significance of the role of nonelites in the transition. The events played out mostly at the level of political elites. it is hugely important that neither be ignored. that “a dynamic interaction between elites and masses” is a key feature of many democratic transitions. offers only an incomplete account of the processes of 1989. though elites were important. therefore. of any great analytical significance. the relative bargaining positions of these two sides in the negotiations. That the causal chain which brought about the transition includes elements at the non-elite level does not necessarily imply that the role of non-elites in the process of transition was.6 I argue that the Hungarian case gives support to this latter contention. Hungary’s negotiated revolution was the product of a complex interaction of elites and masses operating throughout 1989. the role of non-elites too is crucial to our understanding of the transition process. however. the analysis which is presented here ties in to a broader literature on the nature of democratic transition.’ More recently.’ I take as the starting point for this investigation one of the most prominent theoretical interpretations of the Hungarian Roundtable negotiations-that given by LBszl6 Bruszt and David Stark.4 I argue that these accounts give an incomplete picture of the Hungarian transition: in fact. Much of the international literature on transitions during the last three decades has focused heavily upon interactive games between narrow groups of ruling and oppositional elites. both within and outside the regime”. an important element of the transition story. I argue that these lacunae can. relating to the evolution of the negotiating position of the opposition. in significant part. In the concluding section. if we are to understand the Hungarian transition properly. Second.8 I argue that their analysis. that the role of non-elites in Hungary’s transition was of very great significance. in fact. the evolution of the position of the MSZMP.192 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy Similarly. however. democratic elections to take place in the spring of 1990. I focus upon what I argue are four lacunae in their account. The two sections which follow will seek to reconstruct the Hungarian transition in order to show the influence of non-elite behavior and opinion upon the processes occurring at the level of elites. highly instructive though it is. I take the analysis one stage further.

9 Meanwhile. by June 1989. and nationally recognized candidates to defeat the opposition in a straight-ahead electoral contest with no strings attached. with their hands no longer tied by the Brezhnev Doctrine. uncompromised elections. It is undoubtedly true that the opposition believed that it lacked the legitimacy that might have allowed it to strike a compromise with the government of the kind that had recently been agreed in Poland. With their organizational membership still numbering only in the thousands. For these reasons. organization. There is much to recommend this account. Whereas the revived Solidarity. they could neither make an undisputed claim to speak in the name of society nor anticipate the capacity to call on society to agree to a compromise. the acceptance of fully free . Renwick: Non-elite Forces in Negotiated Revolution 193 Non-elite Forces and the National Roundtable Negotiations Lhszl6 Bruszt and David Stark interpret the course of the national roundtable negotiations in the summer of 1989 as having been determined by the fact that both of the important negotiating partners-the Opposition Roundtable (EKA) and the MSZMP-hared a common basic goal: both sought the introduction of full democracy through the mechanism of the roundtable talks.12and precisely the same thinking was a dominant theme running through the speech given by Imre K6nya at the opening session of the national roundtable talks on 13th June. the reform Communists calculated that. fully contested. could claim a mass membership and a leader with popularity ratings of almost 80 per cent. the two sides are seen as having agreed on their aims in the negotiations. They write that it was the very weakness of the opposition that forced it to be uncompromising. they characterize the reform communists who had by this stage taken control of the MSZMP as having decided from the beginning of the negotiations that they too would support a transfer to full democracy. the united Hungarian opposition went into negotiations insisting that the goal of any agreement was the establishment of free. The argument that the negotiators of the national roundtable lacked legitimacy was used repeatedly by the leaders of the EKA during the preparatory talks with the MSZMP in the spring of 1989 in their efforts to limit the scope of the discussions. open. though much weakened in comparison with the organization of 1980-8 1. Bruszt and Stark are again correct in claiming that the broad thrust of the approach of those in control of the MSZMP's negotiating position was. On the side of the opposition." the EKA organizations could boast only tiny memberships and leaders whom most of the public did not recognize. and with their strength in society still untested.I3 Regarding the other side in the negotiations.A. they could use their superior resources. they argue that the EKA went into the negotiations prepared to accept nothing other than complete democratization because its leaders lacked the legitimacy to agree to anything else. since this gave them the best chance of maintaining their position in the future: If they could seize the high ground as champions of democracy.10 Thus.

” Once the existence of such areas of dispute is recognized. the outcome of the national roundtable discussions was a compromise between the wishes of the EKA and those of the MSZMP. This is not an issue in the analysis presented by Bruszt and Stark. Thirdly.16 and at this time it was far from clear that the reformers within the party would be able to prevail over the hard-liners. following the rout of the Polish communists on 4th June. the process by which the institution of the presidency should be created. we must thus understand both how the reform communists strengthened their position within the party and why they accepted democratization rather than co-optation of the opposition as their goal. While there was overall agreement on a move to essentially unfettered democracy.I~There were no hopes that the party would be able to achieve the kind of bargain which had been won by the ruling party in Poland. was near total. the groupings which were to form the EKA had been largely incapable of concerted action and several of them had sought coalition with the reform communists rather than a one-step transition to democracy. Nevertheless. and the future of the party’s assets and of the Worker’s Militia. Firstly. by contrast. Prior to March 1989. this was certainly not clear to all of the participants in the EKA until the spring of 1989. Bruszt and Stark do not explain how it came about that those in control of MSZMP policy favored the introduction of fully democratic elections. We need to understand why. the question of the relative bargaining strengths of the two principal sides in the negotiations must be considered. such as the form of the new electoral system. From that time onwards until the conclusion of the national roundtable talks in September. on most issues. it deduced its own task from the state of public opinion.194 The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f e1ecti0ns. there was disagreement on matters of enormous importance for the transition. As Bruszt argues. however. it does not do enough to explain the strategy adopted by the EKA in its negotiations with the MSZMP. as late as May 1989. Furthermore. the question of the relative bargaining strengths of the party and the EKA again becomes an issue which demands investigation. To understand the position of the MSZMP within the negotiations. earlier in the 1980s precisely the same concern that the opposition activists lacked a mandate from society had led the Beszklb’ circle to the very opposite strategy from the radicalism of 1989: Ervin Csizmadia writes of Beszkl6’s first program proposal15 that it was Zess radical than might have been expected because Beszklb’ “did not want to place itself in front of public opinion. it is not apparent that there was even the desire to do so. since they describe the two sides as having been striving for the same goals.” We need to understand why this reversal in the strategy of the opposition took place. even the reformers within the MSZMP wanted to see a compromise solution falling well short of full democratization. It would clearly be wrong. though it may indeed have been felt within the context of the national roundtable talks that the EKA could accept nothing short of full democracy. at least in public. Indeed. Secondly. there are at least four important lacunae in this account. their unity. . to suggest that the negotiations saw no conflict between these two sides.

a communist satellite organization. It cannot be claimed that that strategy change was universally . Zolthn Bir6. The alliance between reform communists and populist writers had “provided the populists with protection from repression and access to the organizational resources of the Patriotic People’s Front (HNF). The two principal groups within the opposition-the ‘democratic opposition’ circle which was to form the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ). and it sought rather to engineer a partnership between itself and the reform wing of the MSZMP led by Imre Pozsgay. Renwick: Non-elite Forces in Negotiated Revolution 195 Finally. it is important that we ask how it was that the elite negotiating groups were able to decide the major issues of the democratic transition in negotiations held over a period o€ three months behind closed doors with almost no interference from outside forces. and the circle of nationalpopulist (nkpi)writers and others who formed the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF)-had been largely incapable of concerted action since the publication of the democratic opposition’s manifesto. While the democratic opposition’s approach had long been one of confrontation with the regime. opposed the creation of the EKA when Imre K6nya first mooted the idea in early March. In what follows I consider each of these four lacunae in turn. in early 1989 that path was far from determined. Thrsadalrni Szerzodks [Social Contract]. Further. the MDF’s president at the time.” In the early months of 1989. I argue that in each case our understanding of the process of the Hungarian transition is greatly increased by the inclusion of the behavior of the wider Hungarian public within the analysis. in 1987. many within the MDF wished to continue their co-operation with the reform communists. That is. The Strategy o the Opposition Roundtnble f However inevitable it may have seemed in the summer of 1989 that the members of the EKA should act together to push for an immediate transition to fill democracy. we must ask how contextual factors facilitated the course of the negotiations and allowed the negotiated form of transition to achieve success.20 The agreement of these various groups to co-operate together and to adopt a strategy of united opposition to the regime was thus a major step in the process of the transition. the MDF’s position as an organization of opposition was ambiguous. and to achieve regime change through this coalition rather than through co-operation with the other independent organizations. headed by Pozsgay”’* and had thereby “helped upgrade the Populist politicians’ status from that of powerless petitioners to politically sheltered auxiliaries of the ruling party’s nascent reform wing”. It avoided the use of the term ‘opposition’. the difficulties involved in securing co-operation between these groups went beyond their historical animosity and their different agendas: a major impediment to their working together was the fact that they had long employed very different tactics in their struggle for change.A.

It was evident for all to see that the regime was crumbling and that an alliance with any part of it was not the appropriate way forward. Its unity was maintained in the spring of 1989. K6nya tells us that “the fact in any case is that.23I will thus agree with Tamis Hofer’s claim that “the Budapest demonstration was a pivotal event in the political transformation of Hungary. when 1 returned home from the demonstration. it would have seemed folly for those organizations which were inclined to do so to have rejected continued co-operation within the opposition in fervor of a return to the fold of the reform communists. whose invitation to form a roundtable was accepted by the eight organizations. Even the presence of reform communists at the official commemorations was insufficient to attract much support. It was a watershed in the process of remaking the political field in Hungary. Having achieved by far their greatest success to date in co-operation with the other independent organizations. Hungary’s national day. and Imre K6nya. The plans of the SZDSZ to issue a call for such a roundtable were in place before that date. despite sharp disputes between the participants on many issues?2 I argue in this section that a significant factor in the creation of the strong EKA was the show of opposition strength made on 15th March 1989. considerable impetus to the creation of the EKA was provided by the success of the alternative 15th March commemorations.2s However. that evening.000 people participated in the events organized by the opposition-up to five times more than were to be found at the official commemoration on the steps of the National Museum. The acceleration of political change immediately after the demonstration signals its importance and imIt would be wrong to suggest that the idea of an opposition roundtable arose only in the light of the success of the opposition’s program of events of the 15th March. when 100. the 15th March events had the lasting effect of demonstrating clearly to those who doubted it that co-operation among the independent organizations was a more promising path than the path of co-operation with the reform communists. Having described the perception created by that success that “it had become a real possibility that the miracle could happen”.21It was maintained also in the summer.196 The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy f accepted within the opposition at the time-some in the MDF agreed to participation only because they did not expect the initiative to lead very far. and also of Eastern Europe. . had already discussed the idea with leading figures in those organizations earlier in the month. I sat down and drafted the invitation ‘to the Hungarian independent organizations’”. despite concerted efforts by the MSZMP to break it up.2B Aside from the immediate impact of the excitement of that day. All the same. The relative numbers attending the different events showed unambiguously who had the backing of the population. Meanwhile. the power which the opposition forces were able to exert when they worked together was made abundantly clear. the EKA was able to maintain a strong and united front against the regime all the way through until the end of the national roundtable talks on 18th September 1989.

Spring 1989 As Bruszt and Stark have been seen to point out. By contrast. however. between the MSZMP and various organizations of its choice. It is thus clear that. It was through a process of interaction between elites and masses that the strategy of the opposition changed in the spring of 1989. At the EKA meeting of 7th April. despite the fact that some within the MDF feared that staying away could weaken the reform communists within the ruling party. It is likely. the opposition groups had been prepared to talk with the regime largely on the regime’s own terms. Following the success of the opposition events. Those conditions were laid down in the EKA’s letter to the MSZMP Central Committee on 30th March:* and. for example. That decision to stay away from the MSZMP’s proposed talks was a powerful indicator of the opposition’s change of strategy compared with early March. that the 15th March events contributed to the sidelining of that opposition within the MDF and to the ever-increasing commitment of the MDF to the EKA approach. Changes in the MSZMP. the EKA stood by those conditions in deciding not to attend the talks on 8th April. the MSZDP immediately switched strategies. which participated in the official program of events at the National Museum. despite the doubts already mentioned. the MDF’s I s t v b Csurka played a decisive role in the EKA’s decision not to attend the MSZMP’s proposed negotiations the following day. would be full democracy. the opposition’s self-confidence and determination had increased enormously and that its strategy had become much more radical. between early March and early April 1989. since apparently some within the party’s leadership remained deeply skeptical of the EKA approach long after the roundtable was formed. of course. It is also clear. those in control of the MSZMP’s negotiating line had already accepted that the outcome of the negotiations would be an immediate transition to what. to admit at the first EKA meeting on 22nd March that it had been a “mishap” that his party had celebrated jointly with the MSZMP on the 15th. in the MSZMP’s headquarters. Before . by the time of the start of the national roundtable negotiations in June 1989. that we cannot claim that the popular demands expressed on 15th March forced the uniting of the opposition and the adoption of the EKA strategy-but those demands did greatly strengthen the EKA initiative and they did contribute greatly to its success. Prior to 15th March.A.27 The direct link is somewhat harder to establish in the case of the MDF. The commemorations of 15th March were a major factor encouraging this change. Tamhs Rkvksz. in essence. after 15th March the EKA would accept negotiations only if they conformed with its own conditions. This had involved two-sided negotiations carried out at the invitation of the MSZMP. joined in the process of creating the EKA and left its representative. Renwick: Non-elite Forces in Negotiated Revolution 197 This connection between 15th March and the adoption of the E M strategy is clearest in the case of the Social Democratic Party of Hungary (MSZDP).

they numbered around one hundred. it greatly weakened the hand of the regime. on 15th April. together. two changes had to take place in comparison with the situation in early 1989: the reform communists had to gain the upper hand within the MSZMP. I will argue that. it also demonstrated the strength which the opposition possessed when it chose to unite and to express clearly its oppositional stance. “the main speakers held the secretary general responsible for the party’s sluggish responses to internal reform . Whilst the show of opposition strength on 15th March greatly enhanced the resolve of the opposition. by Imre Pozsgay-was rendered less viable. were the regime to hold its ground to such an extent that the opposition felt obliged to take the issue to the streets. It will be found that each of these had a large role to play in the slow resignation of the ruling elite which has been described. and the effect of expectations concerning the ceremonies of 16th June revolving around the reburial of Imre Nagy. this gradual resignation reflected the fact that the party was helpless against broader forces working within society at large. Three such forces will be analyzed in particular (though others were also important): the effect on the party of the events of 15th March. It showed that. In so doing. and those reform communists themselves had to accept that genuine regime change rather than reform and co-optation of part of the opposition was the only viable way forward. they amounted to a gradual resignation from power on the part of the party which had ruled Hungary for the last forty years. the effect of increasingly intense criticism of the ruling elite from the grass-roots of the party itself.000 spectators. a peaceful change to a legal. The months following the events of 15th March saw pressure on the regime not only from the population at large but also from the rank-and-file membership of the party itself. such that.198 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f this situation was reached. These two changes occurred over the first half of 1989 and. it made the position of the conservatives who hoped reform could be kept to a minimal level less credible than it had previously been. the regime could not expect to come out victorious. by the time of their national conference on 21st and 22nd May. This pressure had been steadily rising since the mid-1980s and had taken a significant step further with the creation of the first ‘Reform Circle’ in Szeged in November 1988. The effects of the first of these factors-the demonstration of 15th Marchare to a large extent the reverse-side of what has already been seen in the case of the opposition. the strategy of co-optation adopted by some of the reform comniunists-most notably. As was seen in the previous section. of course. the only reform option available was that of a complete transition to democracy. to a large degree.30At an earlier gathering of the Reform Circles.*’ Further local Reform Circles had been formed apace during the early months of 1989. however. This conference was attended by over 400 delegates and around 3. Increasingly. Thus. constitutional state and the immediate initiation of talks with the EKA. and called for more internal party democracy.

he replaced six cabinet ministers who were close to G r 6 ~ and ~ z ~ secured very much greater autonomy for the government from the party’s control. His victory was a significant step in allowing those who wished to see a more conciliatory approach towards the EKA to gain the upper hand. the Hungarian Democratic Youth Alliance ( D e m i ~ z )Meanwhile. but had been voted down by the Central Committee.000?3 It was in the context of this grass-roots party revolt-and the similar mood in society at large-that the reformers within the party leadership were able to strengthen their position during April and May of 1989. This event raised enormous interest at the time-there was extensive coverage of the preparations and extensive reporting of the events of 1956-58 in the press in the months preceding the ceremony.000 in the preceding eighteen months to 780. The significance of the event to the changes within the MSZMP derived from two factors: anticipation of the events of 16th June itself.39Given the high symbolism of the reburial. the mere fact of the approach of the reburial was sufficient to impel the regime to accede to the . for the introduction of a ‘state of economic emergency’.. they “caused national conterna at ion". such that “all MSZMP leaders feared that day”. “both the reform wing and the conservatives . Upon hearing these remarks. The internal collapse of the ruling party was closely linked also to anticipation of the approaching reburial of Imre Nagy and others who had been ‘judicially murdered’ in the aftermath of the suppression of the 1956 uprising.. Central Committee member J h o s Lukhcs acknowledged in a press conference at the end of March that the membership total had fallen by 100. Renwick: Non-eliteForces in NegotiatedRevolution 199 The youth wing of the party.^^ They also provoked the most independent-minded action on the part of the press which had been seen up to that date: the reform-oriented newspaper Magyar Nemzet adopted a campaigning stance in its efforts to find out who was telling the Nkmeth took quick advantage of this mood to punish Gr6sz and his supporters.36This response was possible only because Gr6sz’s remarks ran very much counter to the general mood within the party and among the general public: as Tokks puts it. it decided at its meeting of 22nd and 23rd April to disband and form a new organization.000. Having lost half its original membership of 800. was in revolt too.’4 In the following two weeks.~~ of rank-and-file members from the party continued at great speed. June 16 would turn out to be a serious political defeat”:’ Thus. the reburial of Imre Nagy and his associates was an event with highly unpredictable consequences. As Andrhs Boz6ki emphasizes. party Secretary General Gr6sz claimed that he had called.. All members of the political elite recognized the political importance of their own participation at the reburial. Otherwise.A. with the support of Prime Minister NCmeth. they had to come to some kind of agreement with the Opposition Roundtable . In late April.. for their own sake. the Communist Youth League (KISZ). saw that. the mass exodus . NCmeth immediately went on national television to repudiate them. and the direct effects of the preparations for those events.

both of which Visirhelyi was pleased to grant. These negotiations were led by the president of the organizing Committee for Historical Justice. in Takes's words. until the spring of 1989. By the end of May. writes that “[t]he Communists resigned under rather weak pressure. First came the request of the Reform Circles. it should not hide from us the fact that. In order not to be left behind entirely at the reburial ceremonies. The importance of the mass demonstrations of March and June 1989 and of the rising internal dissent within the MSZMP to the changing politics of the MSZMP elite at this time is thus clear. While Vhsirhelyi was something of a figure of reconciliation between the regime and the opposition-he had been a founding member of the SZDSZ. However. because even they themselves had lost their belief in the legitimacy of their rule as well as their self-interest in maintaining it”?’ This was true to some extent-the communists were certainly not forced out of power by pressure from the streets. however. Hard-liners within the party were crippled as it became increasingly apparent that the overwhelming weight of public opinion was against them. for example.42NCmeth represented the government. “essentially on the terms which had been proposed by the Before it was able to persuade the EKA to sign an accord on the formula the talks would take-just six days before Nagy’s reburial-it was forced to make still further concessions. as leading members of the ruling elite pleaded with this former co-defendant of Imre Nagy to be permitted to attend the latter’s funeral. As Andris Korosknyi writes. Mikl6s Visirhelyi. “the MSZMP never recovered from this humiliation. the MSZMP could do no other than react to the EKA’s demands positively. even the reform communists sought only a limited form of democracy. Szuros represented Parliament. Pressure from . particularly important were the negotiations as to who from within the regime would be permitted to take part in the events. the party itself. and psychologically collapsed at this The expectations of and preparations for 16th June thus created a situation in which the opposition was the leader and the regime followed as best it could. but they were far from being in control of events: they too had to adapt their strategy to the situation rapidly evolving around them. at least over the short term-they sought guarantees which would ensure that their position at the center of power was maintained. but was also a member of Central Committee member Rezso Nyers’s New March Front (@ Mdrcizisi Front)-there was no doubting the dominant strand of symbolism. it had already agreed that the talks would be held.4l Later came those of Prime Minister Mikl6s Nkmeth and parliamentary Speaker Mgtyis Szuros. in the hope that this would enable the party to salvage some of its reputation on that day. The party had largely capitulated before the talks had begun. The reformers were able to take advantage of this.200 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy demands of the EKA. Regarding the process of organizing the events of 16th June. Andrhs Korosknyi. It is often suggested that the MSZMP’s acceptance of full democracy was voluntary and that it was not the product of pressure from below. made at their May national conference. was afforded no official place in the ceremonies at all.

Just as in the case of the opposition elite. its bargaining position was a strong one. Solidarity is characterized as having been entrusted by Polish non-elite society to negotiate on its behalf in the manner it saw fit. The Bargaining Strengths o the MSZMP and the E M in the National f Ro undtable Negotiations The preceding two sections have argued that the negotiating positions and strategies of the two principal participants in the national roundtable talks were strongly influenced by the preferences of the ordinary Hungarian people-including ordinary party members-as expressed during the spring and early summer of 1989. its leaders still enjoy the trust of millions of members who accepted its goals through deliberation and identification with those leaders”. there were numerous areas of discussion in which there were substantive disagreements between the EKA and the party. In so doing we can understand what the source of that strength was. not only by the preferences and strategies of the participants. the opposition to which Bruszt and Stark refer is not the entire universe of opposition to the party-state existing within Hungarian elite and non-elite . as has been said. however. K6nya concludes that “the aims of the opposition were largely or wholly fulfilled” in the agreement of 18th September. Yet.49Thus. only a small membership and a set of leaders possessing only minimal recognition outside their own narrow circles-had not been so entrusted. in fact. the question of the institution of the Presidency. by contrast-having. The Hungarian opposition elite. Thus. it had not been conferred with the right to speak on behalf of Hungarian society.“6Tokks writes of the outcome that “the party tried but failed to outmaneuver the opposition”>’ The apparent contradiction between Bruszt and Stark’s claim of opposition weakness and the seeming fact of opposition strength needs to be explained. “although In Solidarity has been greatly reduced from its much larger base in 1981.A. That apparent contradiction can be removed if we understand what kind of “weakness” and what kind of “opposition” Bruszt and Stark refer to when they write that “it was the very weakness of the opposition that forced it to be unc~mprornising”.~~reference to the Polish situation they write that. and in many of these-such as the details of the parliamentary electoral system. but also by their relative bargaining strengths. so in the case of the MSZMP. Bruszt and Stark suggest that the most important characteristic of the opposition at this time was its weakness. the EKA’s successes suggest that. it was a process of interaction between elites and masses that pushed the party towards the negotiating position which it adopted in the summer of 1989. Indeed. Renwick: Non-elite Forces in Negotiated Revoliition 201 below was important in forcing them to adopt a different path. The outcome of any negotiation is determined. and the issue of whether Hungary should continue to be described in its constitution as a socialist state-the outcome of the negotiations was a genuine compromise between the two sides.


The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy f

society: rather, it is only the elite part of that opposition. And the weakness of this oppositional elite is a weakness vis-d-vis non-elite society, not a weakness vis-a-vis the state: the oppositional elite was unable to make the claim that it was the voice of society as a whole, and was thus unable to strike any bargains in the name of society. Once this clarification has been made, it is possible to reconcile the account given by Bruszt and Stark with the fact that the EKA possessed a strong bargaining position vis-d-vis the party in the talks conducted during the summer of 1989. While the EKA may not have been entrusted to speak on behalf of nonelite society, it knew that, were it necessary to take the issues of the negotiations to the people, it would be able to win overwhelmingly more support than could the regime. Thus, because of the orientation of non-elite society, the oppositional universe as a whole held considerable strength vis-a-vis the regime, enabling the EKA to negotiate with the party from a powerful position. If anything, the weakness of the EKA in relation to non-elite society strengthened it in relation to the regime, since it rendered the EKA unable to bargain away the demands of society at the negotiating table. The strength of the whole opposition which was the backdrop to the strength of the EKA at the negotiations had been seen before: in the negotiations, in the events of the spring and early summer of 1989, which have already been described. It was seen again with the four by-elections held in late July and early August, called as a result of the recall or resignation (in the face of the threat of recall) of the sitting representatives." Three of these by-elections were won by the opposition, despite the presence of reform-communist candidates; the fourth was inconclusive due to low turnout. The elections sent a powerful signal to the negotiators, reminding them of where the population's sympathies lay. They helped to bolster the confidence of the EKA and contributed further to the crisis of confidence within the MSZMP. Thus, despite the fact that its constituent organizations were, as organizations, very weak, the EKA was able to negotiate from a position of considerable strength. Despite the closed nature of the national roundtable negotiations, they were far from being free from the effects of iion-elite pressure.

The Negotiated Revolution: How Could it Happen?

I have so far focused upon the particular course taken by the negotiations in the summer of 1989 and have sought to show that the three most important determinants of that course-the negotiating position of the opposition, the negotiating position of the MSZMP and the relative bargaining strengths of the two sideswere, in turn, themselves significantly influenced by the preferences of the Hungarian public as revealed in a series of events and developments from March 1989 onwards. However, we need also to consider more generally what it was which gave the national roundtable negotiations the room to succeed-why no

A. Renwick: Non-elite Forces in Negotiated Revolution


alternative strategies appeared in the course of 1989 which might have subverted the efforts of the negotiators. The negotiations lasted just over three months from the opening plenary session on 13th June until the closing session on 18th September. During that time, particularly before the last week of August, very little information filtered into the public domain as to the course which the talks were taking. It is clear that public exasperation at this lack of information was considerable.5’ In the context of mounting economic crisis, we might have expected such apparent inertia on the part of the political elite to have led to greater oppositional activity-perhaps even violent oppositional activity-in parts of the wider public. In fact, no such thing occurred-the population was almost entirely passive throughout the period of the negotiations. Thus, here it was not the public’s activity which influenced the progress of the elite-level developments, but rather the precise reverse-the public’s inactivity and passivity. The reason for this passivity appears clear-all the indicators suggest that the negotiated path was preferred by public opinion over all other alternatives. An opinion poll conducted in May 1989 found that the great majority of respondents-almost nine out of ten-”wanted the country’s leaders to negotiate with the new political organizations and parties”.s2 An earlier poll had shown equally high opposition to non-peaceful forms of demonstration and even higher opposition to the creation of armed organisations outside the state ap~aratus.’~ polling evidence is thus that the overwhelming preference of The the population was for peaceful transition. This preference was manifested in practice in the demonstrations of 15th March and 16th June and later in the events surrounding the referendum which will shortly be described: in each case, the participation of the wider public in the transition process was entirely peaceful. We may seek a deeper explanation for this public passivity in Hungarian political culture and in the comparison of Hungarian political culture and the cultures of other countries where a peaceflil transition was not achieved. That task, however, lies beyond the aims of the present article. Here my goal is only to point out that the success of the negotiated revolution-indeed, the possibility of the negotiated revolution-was contingent upon that passivity. Had the public been more inclined to engage in open forms of protest, the negotiations may not have had the time and space which they needed to succeed. What this suggests is that it was a combination of public passivity and the occasionally manifested capacity for public activity which permitted the Hungarian transition to take the course which it did in the summer of 1989. This is a point to which I shall return to in the concluding section. In the section which follows, I draw the empirical investigation to a close by moving beyond the period of the national roundtable talks and considering what may be learnt from the referendum of November 1989.


The Roimdtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy f

Postscript to the Negotiations: The Referendum of November 1989
One last phase of transition politics took place in Hungary after the culmination of the national roundtable negotiations and before the return to normal politics in the run-up to the first free elections in March and April 1990. This was the period of the November referendum. Prior to the calling of that referendum, the democratic nature of Hungary’s new constitutional system was incomplete-the continued existence of the Worker’s Militia, the continued presence of the MSZMP in the workplace and the refusal of the MSZMP to account for its assets meant that a level playing field for the coming elections was not guaranteed, and some argued that early presidential elections, held before the parliamentary elections, would have a similar effect. However, in the process of signature collection for the referendum, and in the referendum vote itself, the Hungarian public both expressed an unambiguous preference for the completion of the democratic transition, and ensured that the transition was in fact completed. The referendum thus constituted an important phase of the transition and it needs to be considered here. The purpose of this section is to draw out the role of the non-elites in the referendum process. It is true that the initiative to hold the referendum came from within the leadership of the SZDSZ and the Federation of Young Democrats (Fidesz). The SZDSZ stated at the time of the signing of the 18th September accord that it was its intention to organize a referendum “on questions fundamentally decisive to the democratic tran~ition”.’~ is clear, however, that it It would not have done so had it not been certain that it would obtain the support of the people. As has been said already, Hungary’s opposition parties knew at this time that, whenever they should feel obliged to go to the people, they could count on obtaining the people’s support. Once the petition campaign had been launched, it became clear that the SZDSZ’s confidence had not been ill-judged: within a matter of weeks, 200,000 signatures were collected, twice the number required in order to compel Parliament to call a referendum.’’ It was during these remarkable weeks that the regime gave way on the three questions pertaining to the party’s assets, its workplace organizations, and the Worker’s Militia. On 16th October, the Council of Ministers accepted the Justice Minister’s proposal that the Worker’s Militia be disbanded without legal successor.’‘ Qn 18th October, the Minister of Justice announced that the government would recommend to Parliament that the operation of party organizations be banned from all work place^,^^ a proposal that was accepted by Parliament the very next day.’* Finally, on 20th October, the Finance Minister accepted that “since 1977 all of the party’s real estate has been in state possession, and the MSZMP has held it only with the rights of a tru~tee”.’~ There is no question that the spectacle of queues of people lining up to sign the petition and the regime’s simultaneous retreat on three questions regarding which it had held out firmly throughout the summer were closely connected. Imre K6nya expresses this clearly: “I cannot imagine that, without the process of

A. Renwick: Non-elite Forces in Negotiated Revolution


signature collection, these two questions [those pertaining to the Worker’s Militia and the workplace party organizations] could have been solved with such lightning speed. Parliament felt the pressure, the urging of the people, and decided”.60In this way, the resolution of these three crucial questions was determined by mass action on the part of Hungary’s non-elite population. The most important work of the referendum had thus already been done long before the votes were cast on 26th November. In the referendum itself, the verdict of the people on the first three questions was confirmed, with support for the opposition’s position running at around 95 per cent in each.61The question of the presidency, meanwhile, was decided by the narrowest of margins.62 One further point to note regarding the referendum is that of the turnout. Despite the call by what was at the time the largest opposition party-the MDF-to boycott the poll, the turnout was over 58 per cent.63This was higher than that achieved in the recall elections of the It indicated that the ordinary voters preferred to think independently rather than abide by the elite-level politicking which clearly motivated the MDF’s stance towards the vote. In the course of the referendum process, an unambiguous popular wish was expressed for the completion of a full democratic transition. The MSZMP had sought to manipulate the new democratic system in order to improve its chances of holding on to power, and some members of the opposition elite had been prepared to accept its demands. It was popular action-the action of the thousands of signatories to the referendum petition and the millions of voters in the referendum itselfwhich decided that such limitations upon the democratic transition were unacceptable. Here, perhaps more than anywhere else, the direct influence of non-elite behavior upon the course of the Hungarian transition can be seen.

Interpretations and Conclusions: The Nature of the EliteMass Linkage in the Hungarian Transition
It has been seen that non-elite behavior exerted a considerable influence over the path taken by the democratic transition in Hungary during the dramatic months of 1989. We need now to consider what the precise nature of that influence was. Non-elite behavior may have been a necessary element in the causal chain which produced the Hungarian transition, but that fact is compatible either with the non-elites’ having had virtually no true significance in the course of events or with their having had absolutely overriding significance. I will argue here that, in fact, the role of non-elite behavior in the Hungarian transition lay between these extremes. Its influence over events was important, but that influence was exerted only in interaction with the political elites. Thus the picture of dynamic interaction between elites and masses drawn by Scott Mainwaring is found to be a very accurate description of the Hungarian case. An example of non-elite behavior which was a necessary element of the causal chain but which was nevertheless of very little analytical significance is


The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy

provided by the referendum vote on the timing of the presidential elections in November 1989. That vote was crucial to the causal chain in that, had the majority been on the other side, early presidential elections would have been held and Hungarian political life in early 1990 would have differed substantially from the form which it, in fact, took. (Whether this would have had any major lasting impact upon the nature of Hungarian democracy is a disputed point but is not of any great import to the discussion here.) However, we could hardly attribute any great analytical significance to this vote. The nutcome was so close that it may easily have gone the other way. It may have been determined by factors wholly unrelated to the particular matter in hand-for example, as Endre Babus suggests, by the fact that the opposition, unlike the regime, was able to use popular actors in its campaign advertisement^.^^ It would be absurd to suggest that in the vote on the presidential elections the voice of the people was heard and a popular desire for parliamentary governance was expressed. It is clear, however, that non-elite behavior had a much more important role to play in the Hungarian transition than this. In respect of the other three referendum questions, for example, the general desire for a complete transition from communism and the motive force of that desire in producing the policy changes of October 1989 which were described above were both unambiguous. Here, it was not simply the case that the causal path passed through the non-elites: the role of the non-elites themselves in the process was of genuine analytical importance and interest. The same could be said of the other events which have been described in this paper. At the opposite end of the scale from the case of minimal significance lies the case in which popular opinion and behavior alone forced the outcome which was observed. In the case of Hungary this would imply that public opinion alone demanded a full and immediate transition to democracy and that it was able, on its own, to secure the acceptance of this demand. This scenario is consistent with the existence of other elements in the causal chain-for example, with the existence of elite-level negotiations. However, it demands that such negotiations should have been determined entirely by the force of public opinion. Just as in the case of minimal causal significance, it is clear that this end of the scale does not offer an accurate description of the Hungarian transition. Quite apart from the evident fact that the course of the national roundtable negotiations was not determined solely by the pressure of public opinion, it may be noted that, in the early stages of the transition, the majority of public opinion was apparently not even in favor of a transition to full democracy. An opinion poll published in March 1989, for example, found a clear majority in favor of the maintenance of the leading role of the MSZMP.66In light of such evidence, we clearly cannot claim that non-elite opinion and behavior acted alone to produce the transition that was seen. Rather, the Hungarian transition lies between these two poles. Non-elite opinion and the behavior and activities of the political elite interacted in the course of that transition. Neither was dispensable to the process and both were of

A. Renwick: Non-elite Forces in Negotiated Revolution


enormous analytical significance. This may be seen most clearly in the interaction between the opposition elite and public opinion. It was the opposition elite which organized the alternative events on 15th March, although the strength of the popular support for change expressed on that day surprised the elite and encouraged it to radicalize its demands for reform and to express those demands more forcefully. Confirmation that this new approach had strong public backing was given on 16th June, when even larger crowds turned out in support of reform. At the start of this process, public opinion was ambiguous on the question of the extent of change which was desired. Encouraged by events at the elite level, however, that public opinion stood, by the autumn of 1989, quite clearly behind a complete transition-away from communism and towards democracy. It was public opinion-helped along by, but not determined by, the encouragement of the political elite-which ensured that the democratic transition was in fact completed in the referendum in November. A similar interactive process can be seen in the case of the MSZMP. As the weight of popular opinion-both inside and outside the party-turned increasingly against the party’s continued political domination, so the leaders of the MSZMP were forced to accept ever more that they could not hold back the pressure for reform. At the same time, as the party was seen ever more to be crumbling and as the party leadership was seen ever more to lose its self-confidence, so the anti-party sentiment within the population grew. To try to disentangle these processes and claim that one was more important than the other would be fruitless. One final feature of this interactive process was the fact that, for most of the period of transition, the Hungarian public was happy to follow the lead given by the political elites. The preferences of public opinion, and the force which public opinion was capable of exerting, were clear to all participants in the transition process and had a powerful impact upon that process. For the most part, however, the population remained passive. The influence of public opinion was exerted without the need for prolonged activity on the part of the Hungarian people. The occasional mass action occurring in the streets, in the polling booths and elsewhere were sufficient to push the process along. It was this combination of general passivity and occasional, highly potent activity which allowed the negotiated revolution to occur. Without the pressure of public opinion, the spectacular shift from the gradual reform of the preceding years to the radical transformation-the revolution-of 1989 would not have occurred-at least, not as a result of domestic pressures. However, without the readiness of the population to accept the lead of the political elite, that revolution could never have been executed through the process of negotiation. The passivity of the population as much as its activity was therefore an essential part of the course of events in Hungary in 1989. In order to understand fully the nature of the interaction between elites and masses during the Hungarian democratic transition-in order, that is, to understand why the elites responded to the masses as they did and why the masses


The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy f

responded to the elites as they did-we would have to delve deep into both mass and elite political culture. Only there can we hope to find answers to such questions as why public opinion was so ready to espouse the radicalization of reform over the course of 1989 and why the political elite was so ready to push for that radicalization when the public will for reform was expressed. However, investigation into this vast topic extends far beyond the scope of the present paper. Here my goal has been to show that we cannot understand the nature of Hungary’s democratic transition if we neglect the study of the role of non-elite opinion and behavior in that process. Non-elites played a part of fundamental importance in the Hungarian transition. That the transition was negotiated-that it was achieved largely through elite-level talks conducted behind closed doors and out of sight of the Hungarian people-does not imply that the people had no role to play in the chain of events. In fact, the influence of the people on those talks was very considerable. It was only through a process of complex interaction between elites and masses that Hungary’s negotiated revolution could occur.

1 I am grateful to Andras Bozbki, Gabor T6ka and Janos Kis for their comments on an earlier draft of this paper. 2 See Lasz16 Bruszt, “The Negotiated Revolution in Hungary”, in Andrds Bozbki, Andras Koroshyi and George Schopflin (eds.), Post-Communist Transition: Emerging Pluralism in Hungary (London: Pinter, 1992), pp. 30-44. Also (among many others), Rudolf TokCs, Hzingary ’s Negotiated Revolution: Economic Reform, Social Change, and Political Succession, I95 7-1990 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). 3 TokCs, op. cif.,p. 34. 4 Robert Jenkins, “Society and Regime Transition in East-Central Europe”, in Gyorgy Szoboszlai (ed.), Flying Blind: Emerging Democracies in East-Central Europe (Budapest: Hungarian Political Science Association, 1992), pp. 127-28. 5 For example, Dankwart Rustow, “Transitions to Democracy: Toward a Dynamic Model”, Comparative Politics vol. 2 (April 1970), pp. 337-363, Guillermo O’Donnell and Philippe C . Schmitter, Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Tentutive Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies, one of four volumes of Guillermo O’Donnell, Philippe Schmitter and Lawrence Whitehead (eds.), Transitionsfrom Authoritarian Rule: Prospects for Democracy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), and Adam Przeworski, Democracy and the Market (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 199 1). G For example, Terry Lynn Karl, “Dilemmas of Democratisation in Latin America”, Comparative Politics, vol. 22 (October 1990), pp. 1-21, and Scott Mainwaring, “Transitions to Democracy and Democratic Consolidation: Theoretical and Comparative Issues”, in Scott Mainwaring, Guillermo O’Donnell and J. Samuel Valenzuela (eds.), Issues in Democratic Consolidution (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992), pp. 294-34 1. 7 Mainwaring, op. cit., p. 303 8 Laszlo Bruszt and David Stark, “Remaking the Political Field in Hungary: From the Politics of Confrontation to the Politics of Competition”, in Ivo Banac (ed.), Eastern Ezitrope in Revolution (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992), pp. 13-55. 9 Ibid., pp. 42-43.

A. Renwick: Non-elite Forces in Negotiated Revoltition


10 Ibid., p. 43. 11 David Ost, Solidarity and the Politics of Anti-Politics: Opposition and Reform in Poland since 1968 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990), p. 2 13. 12 Bozbki, “Hungary’s Road to Systemic Change: The Opposition Roundtable”, East Eirropean Politics and Societies, vol. 7, no. 2 (spring 1993), p. 285. 13 He said, for example, “We do not wish to participate in the exercise of power above the heads of the people and without having been entrusted by the people to do so”. This was a reference to the desire of the EKA to have the subject-matter of the talks limited to those areas that were strictly required for the achievement of the democratic transition (Mugyar Nemzet, 14th June 1989, p. 3). 14 This is evident, for example, from the joint statement issued at the signing of the initial accord on 10th June (Magyar Nenizet, 12th June 1989, p. 3). 15 “Hogyan keressunk kiutat a vilsigbo1” [“How Should We Search for a Way out of the Crisis”], Be.yzkli’ 5-6 (1982). 16 Bruszt, op. cit.,p. 48. 17 See, for example, Bozoki, op. cit., pp. 290-304. 18 Jenkins, Movements itito Parties: The Historical Transformation of the Hungarian Opposition, Program on Central and Eastern Europe Working Paper Series No. 25 (Cambridge MA: Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard, n.d.), p. 57. 19 TokCs, op. cit., p. 199. 20 Interview with K6nya Imre in Anna Richter, Ellenzkki Kerekasztal (Porfrkvtizlatok)[Opposition Roundtable (Portrait Sketches)] (Budapest: Otlet, 1990), p. 15. 2 1 See in particular the minutes of the EKA meetings on 30th March and 7th April in Andras Bozdki et LII. (eds.), A rendszervaltas forgatdkonyve: Kerekasztal-trirgyalhsok 1989-ben [The Script of the Regime Change: Roundtable Negotiations in 19891 (Budapest: Magveto, 1999), Vol. 1, pp. 76-85 and 94-1 13. 22 At the meeting of 25th July, for example, disagreement over the stance the EKA should adopt of the new electoral system was ended only when it was made clear that a vote against the proposed system was a vote for the break-up of the EKA: no one wanted the latter option, despite the considerable animosity of some participants towards the former (ibid., Vol. 2, p. 536). 23 Mgyar Nemzet, 21st March 1989, p. 9; TokCs, op. cit., p. 318. 24 Tamis Hofer, The Demonstration of Murch IS, 1989, in Budapest: A Struggle for Public Memory, Program on Central and Eastern Europe Working Paper Series no. 16 (Cambridge MA: Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard, n.d.), p. 14. 25 Richter, op. cit., p. 15. 26 Andras Balint, Gyozelemre sziiletunk: Konya Imre Az Ellenzdki Kerekasztalrdl [We Are Born to Victory: Imre K6nya on the Opposition Roundtable] (Budapest: Progresszio, 1990), pp. 30-3 1. 27 Boz6ki et al., op. cif.,Vol. 1, p. 67; see also Bozoki, “Hungary’s Road to Systemic Change”, p. 283. 28 Bozoki et al., A Rendszervdltasforgatdkonyve, vol. I, pp. 86-87. 29 TokCs, op. cit., p. 296. 30 Magsar Nemzet, 22nd May 1989, p. 3; Jenkins, Movements into Parties, p. 48. 3 1 TokCs, 01). cit., p. 324. 32 Ibid., pp. 324-325; Magyar Nemzet, 24th April 1989, p. 3. 33 Magyar Nemzet, 3 1st March 1989, p. 3. 34 Magvar Nemzet, 24th April 1989, p. 10. 35 He proposed the changes just three days after Grosz had made his comments (Mugyar Nemzet, 27th April 1989, p. 3). 36 Tokks, op. cit., p. 325. 37 Ibid. . 38 “Ki mond igazat?”, Magyur Nemzet, 24th April 1989, p. 10; “MCg ma sem tudjuk, kinek van igaza”, Magyar Nemzet, 25th April 1989, p. 8. 39 Bozbki, op. cif.,p. 288.


The Roundtuble Tallis o 1989: The Genesis o Hmgarian Democracy f f

40 Ibid., pp. 288-289. 41 Magvar Nemzet, 23rd May 1989, p. 4. 42 Magyar Nemzet, 9th June 1989, p. 3. 43 Andras KbrosCnyi, “The Decay of Communist Rule in Hungary”, in Andras Bozbki, Andras KorosCnyi and George Schopflin (eds.), Post-Communist Transition: Emerging Pluralism in Hungmy (London: Pinter 1992), p. 8 (emphasis in original). 44 TokCs, op. cit., p. 328. 45 Andrh KorosCnyi, “The Hungarian Parliamentary Elections, 1990”, p. 72. 46 Balint, op. cif.,p. 62. 47 TokCs, op. cit., p. 346. 48 Bruszt and Stark, op. cit., p. 42. 49 Ibid., p. 52. 50 Magyar Nenaet, 24th July 1989, p. 4, and 7th August 1989, p. 3. 5 1 See, for example, Mugyar Nemzef’sreport on a photo-call at the talks at which the participants in the negotiations refused to speak a single word to the reporters present (Magyur Nenizet, 28th July 1989, p. 3). 52 Masyar Nemzet, 21st June 1989, p. 5. The survey was conducted between 23rd and 28th May. 53 Magyar Nemzet, 7th February 1989, p. 4. 54 M’gyar Nernzet, 19th September 1989, p. 3. 55 lklagyar Nemzet, 25th October 1989, p. 3. 56 Mugvai. Nemzet, 17th October 1989, p. 3. 57 Magvar Nemzet, 19th October 1989, p. 2. 58 MagyarNemzet, 20th October 1989, p. 1. 59 Migyar Nemzet, 21st October 1989, p. 3. 60 BQlint,op. cit., p. 65. 61 TokCs, op. cit., p. 363. 62 Ibid., pp. 363-364. 63 Jenkins, Movements into Parties, p. S3. 63 Muoar Nemzet, 24th July 1989, p. 4, and 7th August 1989, p. 3. 65 Babus Endre, “Nepszavazis - 1989” r‘Referendum-l989”], in Sandor Kurtin, Peter Sandor and Laszlb Vass (eds.), Mugyarorszdg poiitikui kidriiryve I990 [Political Yearbook of Hungary 19901 (Budapest: Aula-OMIKK, 1990), pp. 21 1-212. 66 Mugyar Nemnzet, 20th March 1989, p. 4.

The traditional Kadarite interpretation of 1956 as a counterrevolution continued to dominate in public utterances until 1989 (apart from oblique references in the arts). the two types of tradition existed concurrently. Criticism of the regime and a resolve to deprive it of legitimacy were clearly discernible. Although there had been another type of tradition in society. One was . He. When Istvhn Csurka spoke at Monor in 1985 of the ‘new Hungarian selfconstruction’. that of revolution. whilst still in Moscow. When things began to change in the mid-l970s. but an awakening of awareness of right^. and deliberate eschewal of public life. up until Kiidhr’s removal in May 1988. it had been smothered by the reprisals. which tried to put society’s specific image of 1956 into words. Mikl6s Szabo and Jhnos Kis emphasized the aspect of capitulation. In Hungary. therefore. However. national revolution and the fight for liberation. Jhnos Khdir’s acquisition of power. its immediate antecedents in the Rhkosi period and the 1956 revolution.'^ Two distinct ‘56 political traditions were formulated again at the opposition ‘56 conference in December 1986. the most sensitive problem to face the regime in the early Kiidir period was coming to terms with its own past. KadAr tried first to treat the malaise of his regime by drawing on the concept of a ‘national tragedy’. except on ritual occasions. and partial legitimacy won by inflating the standard of living. In Hungary. but efforts to build up the ‘example of ‘56’ into a political prototype and a political tradition were less so. but persistent Cold War. There seemed to be no real need for a past whilst the actual system of conditions for the KAdAr system to develop remained: the psychological aftermath of social capitulation in 1957-58. arose out of the defeat of the anti-Stalinist. Arguing against him. From the turn of the 1960s onwards. preferred to accept continuity with the Rhkosi period. conscious acceptance of the Khdhrite de-politicization of the subject. the historical prototype and traditions have a seminal part to play in legitimising any kind of political system. The revolutionary tradition was sustained with great intellectual force by the democratic ‘56 emigre community in the West. the concession character of the ‘results’ after 1956: ‘The path of self-construction is not a defeat.2 There the ‘power-backed’ tradition remained.Regime Change and the Tradition of 1956 Jdnos M. he still wanted to build on the mutual reticence dubbed as consent (constrained consent). meeting in complete silence. Rniner The past. whilst trying to erase the stigma whilst this entailed.’ a milder. the silence was broken at the end of the 1970s by the democratic opposition.

a carnation in a tin can. although all the participants in the change of system tried to avoid the occurrence of anything similar to 1956. sociology and political science. built also on the experiences of the Polish revolution in the early 1980s (Jinos However. At the same time. the direct political programs put forward in 1987 and 1988 were not built on these potential traditions. a wild rosebush. Why did these things turn out as they did? It was not necessarily because all the participants in the process of transformation wanted it that way. with several hundred others who had been executed. when re-examination. Nineteen-fifty-six became an emblem of radical change. on the 30th anniversary of the Imre . a nameplate in the prisoners’ graveyard. a jar of flowers. then the critics identified the genesis of the regime as its morally indefensible. inexplicable point. Imre Nagy.~ the 30th anniversary of the revolution in On 1986. lawful prime minister of the country. It addressed an appeal to the Hungarian public. causing such alarm that the issue was pulped and the author ~ilenced.212 The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Dentoeracy f the Imre Nagy-type reforming attitude. capable of going along with the revolution even to the point of breaking irrevocably with the basic dogmas of the existing regime (Miklbs Vashrhelyi). This escaped the notice of the editorial censors and the poem appeared in the periodical @ F o w h in Tatabanya. They rested on critical analyses of the regime from the angles of economics. Who accepts responsibility for this?’ enquired Miklbs Visirhelyi on the front page of the Paris Irodalmi ‘One day he must be buried / and we must never forget / to name the killers by name!’ wrote Gaspir Nagy in a poem. a group of former ‘56 political prisoners and relations of those executed founded the Committee for Historical Justice (TIB). The other was the tradition of worker self-management. ‘Nameless mounds. The rest is utter silence. That is all. still not exceeded. and thousands of companions are denied even what a murderous robber receives: a tomb. re-evaluation and ‘recovery’ of the past became a central topic. on the 25th anniversary of Nagy’s death. was the reburial of Imre Nagy and the ‘56 martyrs.5 The most dramatic and theatrical act during the change of system. The true badge of the regime and symbol of its history became the dead Irnre Nagy. Awareness of this broke to the surface in 1983. in the furthest corner of Rikoskeresztfir Cemetery. a stone. irrevocably falling living standards and looming unemployment were discussed openly by middle and higher-ranking functionaries. Once it was so enfeebled that the economic crisis. and the one which attracted the biggest crowds. working in the initials of Imre Nagy as the last two letters of each line. indebtedness. 1956 was a dominant factor on the symbolic plane of the change of system. as a sign that the ‘56 tradition did not (indeed self-evidently) offer a guideline for action at that time. rotting wooden crosses. In the spring of 1988. the eerie sight of the thick undergrowth of Plot 301 and the sunken depressions as the only marks of where the graves had been dug featured on the BBC news and the front-page of The New York Times. on June 16. lying in an unmarked grave in Plot 301. 1956. The opposition parties and organizations were working to destroy the legitimacy of the Kadar system.

When the matter came before the Central Committee on December 15th. the Political Committee passed a resolution on ‘the settlement of questions of respect concerning persons convicted of and executed for political crimes connected with the counterrevolutionary events. about some kind of socialist pluralism. Rainer: Regime Change and the Tradition of I956 213 Nagy trial. and we will have to return later to how the situation created by this move can be handled politically in the appropriate form. We have to return to this in calmer times and think over and settle the issue in a comprehensive way. the . a Central Committee secretary. There was a simultaneous demonstration in the streets of central Budapest. Gyorgy Fejti pointed out that ‘very precisely definable circles and groups have an interest in placing a different construction on this event.”2 The passage of time by no means favoured the treatment conceived in advance.’ On June 16. told the meeting. The influence of the opposition political movements and. Now. raising the spectre of White Terror.’ J h o s Kis remarked in his ~ p e e c h . above all in party history. we are not in such a position and perhaps it would not be correct to press forward. where the protesters called out the name of Imre Nagy. a family funeral) with immediate relations.’ ‘Handling the problem’ (the key concept in the short-lived Grosz period) was to have meant that a senior official of the Prison Service appointed by the Ministry of Justice would simply discuss details of the exhumation and “act of respect” (i. There are tasks for us to do. pressing for the reburial and rehabilitation of those executed and an acknowledgment and reassessment of the whole history of the recent past.J. 1988. after further interventions by the police and the speech by Khroly Gr6sz at the Budapest Sports Hall. without affecting the underlying judgement of the ‘56 events. ‘The leaders of the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party (MSZMP) themselves are talking about a separation of party and state. that ‘we consider this proposal acceptable nonetheless. however. the Hungarian emigre community unveiled a symbolic grave of Imre Nagy and his associates. Whatever these words may mean. using it and exploiting it politically. Even the members of the Political Committee did not think this feasible.’ However.’ In the debate. 1988. Gyorgy Fejti. ~ The Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party Politburo agreed on June 14. in the Pkre-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. in a novel fashion. which we have to settle in due course. M. above all. Fejti’s kind of ‘comprehensive thinking over and settlement’ gave way to a more modern approach from Khroly Gr6sz: ‘We have to be able to endure and we have to be able to handle’ the problem. everyone has to know that there cannot be a real political opening and reconciliation whilst the road to compromise is blocked by the unburied dead. On November 29. in historical studies. There are also some human points of view to consider. he added resolutely. 10 The party leadership decided that calmer times had come towards the end of the year. to offer a subtler analysis of events and persons. 1988 that the police should break up the commemoration of Imre Nagy held at the Batthyany memorial lamp in Central Budapest. e.

in which we will have to suffer for our own response. elevated the question of the revolution and Imre Nagy into a public issue on January 28.” Meanwhile. and then no stone will be left standing here.As I see it. because there is a force that will be able and willing to take arms to prevent a change of system. The MSZMP at the turn of 1988 and 1989 tried to handle the matter as a ‘quasi-moral’.214 The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f publicity for them increased.. and with the mood into which we have been driven and into which we have driven ourselves. the idea had been raised. . I see it as the only way for the political transition to take place on a basis of agreement between the various forces. without having to undertake some kind of special examination and reckoning before the whole party . and on April 21st.13 There followed an explosive reaction which far exceeded the intentions of Pozsgay and his group to build up a new legitimacy (or party legitimacy). It depends on our sense of reality whether we find partners with whom. it would break up eventually under the weight of its past or evaporate into a vacuum.. In a plural structure. an independence struggle . I am convinced of this. Meanwhile.? A change of social system in a . There will be a closed thermos flask here.. through the gap in its legitimacy. certain technical details were agreed on the same basis. . Imre Pozsgay. where the foundations of society remain. 1956 and the Imre Nagy reburial form a case study of the same thing. 1989.. with a statement classifjing 1956 as a ‘popular uprising’. we can create a majority. where he said the expression “popular uprising” was especially apt: It does not have an anti-soviet purport. the TIB reached a preliminary agreement with State Secretary Gyula Borics and Security Service Commander Ferenc Tari at the Justice Ministry that a ‘normal civic funeral’ would be organised on June 16th. in a coalition structure. the past. but of its name sometimes being stated clearly as a revolution as welL’14 Ideas on handling the problem in the longer term were presented at the same meeting by KBroly Gr6sz: With this structure. 1989. more extreme version-the idea of a revolution..16 This was to have been held at the New Public Cemetery in Budapest. will we or will we not be able to command a majority in elections held in a year’s time .. a national revolution and war of independence. the Political Committee member overseeing the committee. without undermining its whole identity and self-respect.. there will be no intervention here from the East or from the West. 1989. growing numbers of MSZMP members realised that the party was incapable of handling the crisis in the old way. ‘humanitarian’ question. in . Hungary will be accompanied by a civil w r . but it is anti-Stalinist and satisfies at the present those who treasure within themselves another. This is the conjunction that in my opinion will extricate the party from a concept born of current political necessity. For this reason. the story of the Hungarian change of system can be equated with the story of the demise of this ‘problem-handling’ scenario. Hence it is not a question of breaking with the category of counterrevolution.. This gap was supposed to be plugged by the committee considering the historical path followed by the MSZMP. 1989.’l5 With a slight exaggeration. with the political burden behind us.. On February 14th. Pozsgay made his motives plain at the Political Committee meeting on February 7. Within it.

‘Kossuth tCr [the square outside Parliament] cannot be a possibility. According to Siindor BorbCly. The lying in state was to take place in Hosok tere..’2’ The debate in the TIB and the opposition parties lasted only a few days.. Legal and Public Administration Policy Committee of the Central Committee. ‘It is very important for them to be a big mass movement. It’s a national issue.J. representatives of scores of Western democratic emigre organisations indicated a desire to attend. The state committee keeping the organisation of the event and the associated debates under operative control gave indications of this and requested a political decision. ‘There was no call for this “act of respect” to be broadened and coupled with political. however. and for government attendance at the funeral. and neither can Hosok tere. When the plan for the funeral became public. As Biilint Magyar put it. For it is not just a matter for the widows. Gyula Horn and Istviin Horviith). ‘This mass demonstration has to be held before the funeral. commander of the Worker’s Militia. Instead they argued for the legal rehabilitation of Imre Nagy and all those convicted for acts in 1956.’ The attitude of mind characteristic of the negotiated political transition appeared as a sign of the new times. for which the location and limited capacity of the cemetery were unsuitable. Rainer: Regime Change and the Tradition of 19% 215 the TIB and opposition political organisations. There would be an opportunity there for mass. Speaker of Parliament.20 MCcs. supported by the invited Kiilmiin Kulcsiir and by Miityiis Szuros. the majority of the TIB leaders and the relatives of those executed still favoured the cemetery as the venue and a ceremony confined to the payment of last respects.22On May 18. Imre MCcs announced to the Opposition Roundtable that the plan had changed. this funeral. without the coffins. At the Political Committee meeting on April 19.’ The question of the funeral was also discussed at the May 2nd meeting of the Opposition Roundtable. At that juncture. there’s a nation rehabilitating itself here.’9 the government members present (Mikl6s NCmeth. opposed a ban on the demonstration. argued that ‘people would like to take part in something . They will keep bringing it up at the negotiations that they have 800.000 members and we have only so many thousand.there. M..18 Then something unexpected occurred: the monolith fell out with itself. of holding some kind of demonstration in the city centre. According to PCter Tolgyessy. Think of the fact that we’ll be negotiating with the MSZMP at that time .23The difference of views between ‘civil society’ and the political .’ Gyorgy Fejti grumbled. legal rehabilitation. whilst the character of the paying of respect would be retained (avoiding a noisy procession with slogans and banners). The hard-liners were startled and anxious at this prospect. they want to conclude a period and look forward to the new period opening. where Imre MCcs reported on the debate within the TIB.’ The Opposition Roundtable did not overlook the aspect of an “act of respect” either. 1989 and the April 28 meeting of the crisis caucus known as the International.. demonstrative attendance. because they cannot be handled. but effectively just before the funeral. due to the likely historical significance of the occasion and the consequent mass attendance.

’ as Imre M6cs reported two days later to the Opposition R0undtable. A crowd of 200. the Opposition Roundtable seemed to be trying to politicise the event in the final days before the funeral. However. There was a big debate about when the forthcoming National Roundtable discussions with the state party should begin.28 The outcome was a non-committal statement which sought to create a ‘national day of reconciliation’ out of the reburial. J h o s Berecz and the ‘stick-in-the-muds’.31Ultimately. the orthodox communist functionaries and activists). three weeks before the funeral. who urged ‘caution’ in the name of the party membership (in other words. in the case of both issues.”~ May 22. On the other side were KAroly Grosz. They were busy pondering instead on how they could obtain the texts of the speeches which would be heard and seen live and how the MSZMP side of Hungary could represent itself at the funeral of Imre Nagy without actually attending. it was recognized. Ultimately. The MSZMP Central Committee debated its statement on Imre Nagy on May 29. Bda Katona and Gyula Horn favored the immediate political rehabilitation of Nagy and pressed for an urgent legal review of the 1958 trial. the majority had strong reservations about this.216 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy sphere appeared only at the embryonic stage.2~As a sign of the revolutionary times. Ivhn T.29 Whilst the MSZMP tried to de-politicize the symbolic field of the transition. Should it be before June 16th or afterwards? Was the atmosphere of anxiety about the 16th not working to the advantage of the opposition by turning public opinion against the party? Would the MSZMP not regain too much composure after the funeral had passed off pea~eably?~’ a couple of days before the funeral.000 gathered in Budapest’s Hosok tere on June 16th. that such details were of small importance compared with the occasion as a whole. The TIB had agreed with the Interior Ministry and public administrative authorities on the technical details also27before the prime minister announced them subsequently to the Political Committee. Some members recognised this as the last opportunity for the party to rehabilitate the executed prime minister without reservations and exercise self-criticism. in that capacity. Berend. this salient event in the change of system managed at one and the same time to remain a civil ceremony of respect and to become a political demonstration of exceptional force. the opposiJust tion co-ordination body was divided strongly over whether state leaders. 1989. to pay their last respects to Imre Nagy and . Of the reformers. Mhia Ormos. ‘with great unease and pressing the responsibility onto us. At the beginning of May. should be allowed to lay wreaths on the bier. 1989. pressure from public opinion led the authorities to agree that the funeral would be a big public occasion. sensing the mortal danger which the occasion posed to the party. Prime Minister Miklos Nkmeth agreed with the represenOn tatives of the TIB on the ceremony in Hosok tere. It was noted at the Political Committee meeting on May 2nd that it seemed to be ‘worth issuing a government statement shortly before June 16th laying the emphasis on reconciliation in this q~estion. Those present at the meeting did not even quibble when it was included in the announcement that there would be all-day television coverage. the press was told first of the government’s assent26and then the opposition parties were briefed.

M Rainer: Regime Change and the Tradition of 19% 217 his associates before their reburial. but not of continuing or reviving it. which was seen by the public as a victory for the opposition. including the heirs of the state party. from which the Evil One scuttles whimpering away. it simultaneously endowed with legitimacy all forces aspiring to more than a reform of so-called socialism. Imre Mkcs. The de-legitimising function had been performed. retrospective opposition. So the heritage of the revolution played a dual role in the system-changing process. 1956 also appeared as a negative program-and in this respect there was agreement among all political forces except for a tiny radical group. but today longer-term effects can be discerned as wal. Three days earlier there had taken place the first meeting of the National Roundtable. the few years of Khdirite repression after 1956. Into Imre Nagy’s grave went the repudiated. let it not be like 1956! This largely determined all of what happened to 1956 in 1990 and after. there is still no more pertinent way of expressing the 1989 reburial of the 1956 tradition and its dramatic effect. wanted to bury the past. it summoned back memories of events from which it wished to dissociate itself in retrospect.J. solemn and a little tense. The ‘unidirectional’ memory of this moment of grace gave way to a ‘divergent’ memory. the majority of Hungarian society did not utterly oppose the system which had broken the revolution. it probably expressed at least as forcibly the fact that all the main participants in Hungarian society.’ Peter Kende wrote a couple of months later. to be followed a few weeks later by the golden years of Khdhr and by the final phase. and the outcome of October 1956 itself. disowned early phase of the Kadhr period.32but there were no incidents.733 From a distance of ten years. The speakers (Mikl6s Vhshhelyi. People were €ar more inclined to consider that they were witnessing a psychological and historical turning point. The living dead need not be faced any more. However. the Prime Minister and several government ministers. Even a few years before 1989. The one thing on which the forces changing the system agreed with their opponents was this: anything but a revolution. Tibor Zimhnyi. Shndor RQcz and Viktor Orbhn) praised the dead (the names of all those executed were read out) and spoke of the revolution. Then. ‘The most important factor behind the collapse [of the old order]. in 1989. ‘This funeral ceremony was like the elevation of the sacrament. was a moral one. . The funeral was attended by the Speaker of Parliament. . At the same time. as an actual or potential opponent: the darkest years under the Rhkosi system. in a process which continues with the cleaving of many other events of 1956.. This was the importance of a ‘peaceful transition’. Bkla Kiraly. The funeral of Imre Nagy was a sacred act. It appeared as a positive program. as opposed to the violent revolution of 1956 and its even more violent suppression. which corresponded to that selective recollection and selective. but of a peaceful transition designed to attain the objectives of 1956. The atmosphere was ceremonial. It not only robbed the ancien regime of legitimacy. but no-one present imagined that this was designed to make the proceedings semi-official. as the antithesis of the Soviet/Communist system. as it prepared for the transition.

or least of all. legitimizing link with 1956.218 The Roundtoble Talks o 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy f By the time of the 1990 election campaign.~~ headed by the MDF. After the elections. However. let it at least gain some significance which was more to their taste. Antall continued. that 1956 was part of a ‘great common national mythology. the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) had cited Imre Nagy among its ideological ancestors in its founding declaration in 1988. ‘We must always speak of that which is elevating’ in them. Antall declared in celebratory addresses on October 23rd. but ‘89-ers as well. feast of St Stephen the King. left the name of Imre Nagy out of the text until the very last minute. that the government parties were shifting the emphasis from 1956 and other modern-day democratic traditions to the continuity expressed by the thousand-year statehood of Hungary. then MSZP) made a final attempt in 1989 to forge a ‘positive’. reminiscent of the revolutions of 1848 and 1956 respectively. he said. still strongly ‘third-road’ and socialistic. with its ‘third-road’. In this connection. the 35th anniversary of the revolution. 1990 and in 1992. The Hungarian Socialist (Worker’s) Party (MSZMP. but it did not really make use of 1956 for day-to-day political purposes. The change of 1944-45. where there are ordeals’. but this aspect paled once J6zsef Antall came into the foreground (although Antall himself had taken part in ‘56. The Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) in 1989. socialistic objectives. founder of the Hungarian state. 1989 was made the ‘Day of the Declaration of the Republic’. Of the main political parties. and he placed the accent clearly on the latter. the first act of the country’s first freely elected Parliament was a commemoration of the 1956 r e v o l ~ t i o nThe new coalition government. it emerged during the debate on the question of the national coat of arms and the choice of national day. As for the right-wing radicals in the MDF. with the political multiplicity of ‘56. October 23. was chosen as the state festival. Imre Nagy and the former party opposition remained too communist for them. the pre-1945. Instead of March 15th or October 23rd. the revolution of 1956 and the whole period up to 1989 were omitted from this continuum. . as a sign of dissociation from the convnunist protagonist of the revolution and its left-wing content and interpretation.) The radicalism of the revolution did not attract the early MDF. The founding populist writers embraced the legacy of the revolution. in which ‘there are heroes and victims. Even in the summer of 1990. could easily have identified with the revolution. Its leaders were aware that their radical system-changing program could not be equated with a clear transference of ‘56 into the present. which saw itself as standing between the government and the opposition and preferred to avoid confrontation. it . 1956 was no longer playing a central role. expressed this by saying that they should not be just ‘56-ers. Rather than the Kossuth coat of arms used in 1945-49 (and reinstated during the 1956 revolution). one of the former revolutionaries who joined the party. crowned coat of arms of the Hungarian Kingdom was chosen as the country’s official emblem. August 20th. Imre Mdcs. the tactic being that if they could not prevent the day being celebrated. if not in a prominent position.

the public. The peaceful and lawful nature of the Hungarian transition undoubtedly allowed the outgoing political elite a ‘free retreat’ and left unpunished those who had persecuted and tortured people under communist rule. as did the people who had once taken part in the revolution. M. When the question of personal and legal responsibility for conduct of the trials during the Stalinist period and for the massacres of unarmed demonstrators in 1956 arose-in 1989/9O-the paradigm of a ‘peaceful transition’ still prevailed.) The main public advocates of the dispensation of justice. Those demanding the dispensation of justice took over the veterans’ organizations and simply branded as ‘communists’ those who opposed them. of course. began to expect practical problems to be resolved. This was all the more so since everyone remembered what an enormous public response there had been to the facts and data about the reprisals when revealed in 1989. it was a divisive factor in society. The latter were identified not only with the opposition. These so-called justice campaigns were opposed. or an argument which cropped up during sociopolitical conflicts. Meanwhile. socialised under the Kid&-system. in agreement. As the euphoria over the change of system subsided. Rainer: Regime Change and the Tradition of1956 219 does not belong among the periods or events from which ‘deeply analyzed. to legal concerns about the dispensation of justice. By the time that the various political forces were developing their ‘concepts’ of 1956 in 1989-90. A prime example of the latter was the issue which came to be known as the dispensation of justice. Liberal political thinkers pointed. and also by the liberals. On the contrary. The 1956 tradition became fatally divided along the lines of day-to-day politics. by the conmunist successor party. were former participants in the revolution. with its intellectual habit of harking back in history. However. including the MDF and other government parties. (The latter did so even though most of them agreed with the moral arguments for dispensing justice.J. as it had been during the break-up of the Khdar system. Nineteen fifty-six was no longer an integrating experience. as well as being a substitute for action on the difficult problems of the day. rational consequences containing merciless lessons’ can be drawn. but with the pre-1956 . on the grounds of the principles of the constitutional state and the security of the law. but this debate was not primarily about ‘56. The ‘campaigner’ radicals of the MDF found in the issue an occasion to initiate mass protests and sustain permanent tensions. these were ineffective or had other effects a couple of years later. however. as a piece of ‘negative mythology’. to the question of the time which had elapsed. The basic motive forces behind the issue had to do with dayto-day politics and its suitability as a diversion from the government’s inaction in the face of deep recession. This moral deficit bore heavily on the new democracy. and to the difficulties of establishing personal guilt. they never disputed for a moment the moral justification for dispensing justice. Campaigns calling for investigation and even retribution for the ‘crimes’ of the communist period were launched by various political forces. It also suited the Antall leadership. the shared moral experience of the funeral of Imre Nagy was no longer effective. This mood was reflected in the press and among the opposition.

A second reason is that the collective memory compares the ‘troubled- . were labelled in the same way. Although the freedom of expression after 1989 gave a public hearing to every kind of personal. but also out of a general conservative aversion to revolution. Instead. Interestingly. true history no longer contained references to revolution. Imre Nagy. disparate recollection of the 1956 revolution. There began a subsequent construction of a ‘true’ history of 1956. Even the liberals. The expositions took place not in the press or the specialist forums of historical studies (which had largely dissociated themselves from these polemics). political and historical interpretation. for instance. a national struggle against the ‘Russians’. they also knew that they could not admit this openly. mainly because of its communist. but in certain programs on public television. despite the deliberate lies of official historical recollection. normality was represented in these personal memories by ‘existing socialism’. which many people find a disconcerting spectacle. At that time. who was? The response to the question was consistent: it was JBnos KBdir. had long ceased to be communists. to say the least. is the aspect of 1956 which most people presumably thought of most during the KBdir period. The new. confused and opaque situation. who of course. national battle of resistance to the RBkosi regime. The conflict about the dispensation of justice led to a singular new historical dispute over 1956. either with no social program or seeking to restore some previous system. who had started out on November 4th. the vast majority of people had some kind of memory of 1956. they proved easy enough to reconcile with the ‘troubled-times’ type of memory. not at all the ‘man for the job’. feverish.220 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of HungarianDemocracy supporters of Imre Nagy and the party opposition. to this day. of a mass. when life was jerked out of its normal rut for a while. This reconstituted history later came to cover the whole period of Hungarian history since 1945. may not have hatched a plot to overthrow the socialist system. However. type of memory came up against official recollection. 1956 and who had reached a ‘golden age’ in the 1960s and 1970s. much of Hungarian society still seems to view 1956 as ‘troubled times’. 1956 was seen summarily as a national war of liberation. The personal stories which were fit to be told reflected a tangled. but quite incompetent. the dominant ingredient. The result is a diffuse. At the same time there arose a very new mythology. at best well-intentioned. If Nagy (with all the revolutionaries) was not the ‘man for the job’. but he was presented as an irresponsible. tailored to present-day requirements. a verifiable instinct for survival-and shame felt at deceit all gave rise to the concept of ‘troubled times’. Healthy self-interest. This interpretation devalued the role of the party opposition and Imre Nagy. which they knew was not the official one and which was close to its very opposite. This is precisely where the ‘troubled-times. day-dreaming politician devoid of a concept. Marxist connotations. Although the basic facts about 1956 were accessible. One. albeit important. reason for this is that the one-time participants have thrown themselves into the aforementioned debate. the most committed of warriors against the communist system. Avowedly or implicitly.

185-97. quite unnecessarily. 5 The exceptions were a few radical political groups such as the Hungarian October Party of Gyorgy Krasso. as long as they find a history-steeped mode of address a worthier aspect of the national tradition than a common recollection of all kinds of inhumanity and tyranny. Ferenc. Kis cillarnbiztonscigi olvascikonyv. 4 Hegediis.. This gives a dishonest and anachronistic impression and most members of society are aware of this. Lhszlb. You Star!-A Reader on the Revolution and Independence Struggle). 221. No. This. 221-2. And- . Indeed. which became marginalized for that very reason. Ezerkilencsz~zotvenhat. pp. not by openly criticizing such behavior. 7 @ Foi-rhs (New Source). 8 Beszklo. 1992. on the other hand. csillag. For the formation in a broader context. breeds antagonism in all those who lived through the Khdhr period. 5 . ‘A vCg kezdete?’ (Beginning of the End?). Even if the divide is not so great as it was then. see Koszeg. October 23rd-March 15th-June 16th in the Kadhr Period). Reprinted in Beszklo Osszkiadcis (Beszkl6 Collected Edition). Besztlu (Informant). its representatives still feel and behave as if they needed to take historical arguments into a battle to gain acceptance. Budapest: SzazadvCg and ‘56-0s Inttzet. has been attacked indiscriminately and had its drawbacks emphasised in every official political speech celebrating 1956 to be delivered since 1990. (ed. Vol. Budapest: Magveto. and Endre Medvigy (eds. Yet. pp. p. a Kcidar-korszakban (A Little State Security Reader. 3 On the Monor meeting. but in silence. see Kenedi. Vol. or by taking up the challenge. Ruiner: Regime Change and the Tradition of 1956 I M 22 I times’ concept of ‘56 with the calm of the Kadir period. 603-4.). For the fonnation of the TIB through the eyes of the state security service.-jtinius 16. 2 Kidhr’s speech on his 60th birthday. pp. The new democracy rests on the strongest basis of legitimacy: the sovereignty of the people and free elections. Arckipvazlat tortknelmi hattirrel (Sketch for a Portrait with an Historical Background). 6 ‘NCgy nCvtelen sirhant’ (Four Unnamed Graves).-marcius 15. Little of the message of ‘56 remains relevant to the issues of today. Budapest: PUski.). Andris B. Reprinted in Pomogits. The ascription to Vishrhelyi came later from Tibor MCray. 1999. The Kidhr period. Oktbber 23. October 1984. No. 1991. Btla. 1982. The article appeared anonymously. The third. the divide will remain for as long as the national-conservative actors on the stage of Hungarian political democracy think they still need to buttress their legitimacy with historical political arguments. 1983. see HegedUs. henhatrbl nyolcvanltatban (On ‘56 in ‘86). it exists. Nineteen fifty-six and its immediate history have become incorporated into the historical-cum-political memory in the same way as in the Kidiir period. 111. 25. A forradalom 6s a szabadsagharc olvasbkonyve (Nineteen te Fifty-Six. Irodalmi @cig (Literary Gazette). and final. pp. 1. Budapest: Magveto. reason is society’s sense that the catharsis provided by the Nagy funeral has passed and remains only a memory. 1996. 11. 65-74. Jhnos. and as long as their left-wing and liberal opponents react to all this. No. Notes 1 This concept was expounded by Mikl6s Szab6 at the Monor meeting of the opposition in 1985. quoted in Gyurk6. and who did not especially miss their freedom. more or less in peace and quiet. editor-in-chief of the newspaper.

op. Meeting of the Opposition Roundtable. ‘Mitol omlott ossze?’ (What Made It Collapse?). 1989 at the Justice Ministry. op. 1989. Vol. Vol. 287-95. 154.. 1998. 1989. I. 1989. h jegvzokonyvei (The 1989 Minutes of the MSZMP Central Committee). pp. Summoning the Dead). 24 Kenedi. 462-8. May 24th. Selected Political Writings 1957-89). 1989. Another was passed in March.. recurring motif in Hungarian parliamentary practice.. with Tibor ErdClyi. 1989. op. May 18th. 1989. p. June 4. p. op.. pp. cit. 3 1 Ibid. See the report on this in Ibid. Budapest. May 2nd. 1989. Meeting of the MSZMP Political Committee. pp.. compiled by Jhnos M. pp. ofnational reconciliation and of consensus. Meeting of the Opposition Roundtable.’ See Kenedi. 288. 1989. 22 On the debate. 1989. see Kenedi. cit. 14 Minutes of the MSZP Political Committee meeting on February 7th. 11 Ibid. 230-34 and 237-5 1. 18 Kenedi. 1989.. pp. 257.. pp. head of the III/III security group at the Interior Ministry. Looking Back from 1988). Vol. 19 Ibid. 25 A rendszeiwilth forgatdkonyve. p. Meeting of the Opposition Roundtable. p. 15 Ibid. 365. Memo on the discussion held on May 2Sth. p. 34 The practice of incorporating outstanding persons and events in legislation is a specific. For instance. 1037-80. 1956 Institute. Report on the preparations for the funeral of Imre Nagy and associates. May 24th. In: Evkonyv 6 (Yearbook 6). Stalin. Visszatekintks 1988-ra’ (The Renaissance of the 1956 Revolution and Independence Struggle and the Change of System. Budapest. In: A pbrizsi toronybdl. May 30 A rendszervtiltcisforgatdkoi~yve. Meeting of the Opposition Roundtable. leader of the 184849 revolution and war of independence. 1989. Memo on the discussion held on February 14th. Budapest: 1956-0s Intezet. 33 Kende. 1991. I.. 217-19. I. Vol. Memo on the discussion held on April 2 1st.. 16 Appendix to Interview 152. I. 17 Ibid. 304. 1953 in memory of Josip V. Vulogatott politikai irrisok 1957-1989 (From the Eiffel Tower. A rendszervalths forgatdkonyve (The Script for the Change of System). Tetemrehivas (1958-88. (eds. cit. Budapest: Biblioteka. Meeting of the Opposition Roundtable. pp. p. 1956 Institute. 274-7. p. 310.. Oral History Archive. I. April.. 21 Andras Boz6ki et al. to the operational committee preparing for the reburial of Imre Nagy and his associates: ‘The suggestion has begun to be made to society that June 16th has to be considered the day of the burial. Vol. 12 Ibid. 225. 29 J6zsef Horvhth. p. an Act of this kind was passed by Parliament at the end of the 19th century relating to Lajos Kossuth. 1989. 1989 (tape transcript). 202. Rainer. 27 Appendix to Interview 152. 152. Peter. 23 A rendszervcjltdsforgatdkonyve. declared on May 29th. 32 The massacre of students demonstrating for democracy in Tienanmen Square in Beijing had taken place only a few days earlier. see the Interior Ministry report in Kenedi. May 2nd. cit. i 28 A Magvor Szocialista Munkaspcirt Kh’zponti Bizottsiigbnak 1989.).222 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy rhs B. 13 Pozsgay chose 168 Hours. one of the most popular programs on Hungarian Radio at the time. 412-29. 10 For the extract from the minutes. 9 1958-1983. [Budapest. p. ‘Az 1956-0s magyar forradalom 6s szabadshgharc reneszinsza 6s a rendszervhlths. pp. Oral History Archive. 31st. to announce the conclusion by the committee which he headed that a “popular uprising” had broken out in Hungary in 1956. 272-4. 26 Mogyor Hirlap (Hungarian News). 20 This was also apparent at the talks between the Budapest police headquarters and the TIB held on May 11th. 1989. with Tibor ErdClyi. 19901. op. Budapest: Cserepfalvi. . cit. 235-7. pp.

their normative orientation to institutions to which the oppositions (or their parts) are attached for principled reasons and which are most likely to guarantee the future political role and personal security of declining elites. Whilst it is true that the famous reformu/mpturupactuda of Spain in 1977 anticipated the new model. The old figure of revolution. The prospect of roundtable negotiations is that both can win by avoiding the destructive friendenemy logic o f modern revolutions. The model everywhere emerged for initially strategic reasons. hopefully. The relative success of democratic institutional design and the improved chances of the consolidation of democracy in all of these countries underscore the world historical significance of the model of change. their public argumentation and. When the process turns against them they may retreat and seek “only” consociational guarantees. and relatively strong con- . Both sides have an interest in avoiding a revolutionary clash which either may win. Negotiators of a weakening old regime do better when they shift their preference. What is remarkable about the process is how a mere modus vivendi is transformed into principled support for the constitutional features of modern democracy. Proportional representation. Weak opposition actors endanger their own future political viability when they grant concessions in this spirit. Bulgaria and South Africa which demonstrated its applicability to different regions and types of dictatorship. negotiations are a means of dismantling dictatorship for which they are willing to pay a price. For democrats. Czecboslovakia.The Roundtables. On the other side. Hungary. Opposition forces confront the fact that a civil society based on mobilization from below cannot on its own accomplish the transition to democracy as long as authoritarian governments maintain their full control over the organized forces of violence. along with the dichotomy of “revolution or reform” seems to be historically exhausted. but in which both can turn out to be losers. the German Democratic Republic. Democratic Institutions and the Problem of Justice Andrew Arnto The wave of democratic transitions between 1989-1 993 has fundamentally altered our idea of radical political change. it was above all the roundtable agreements of Poland. or mixed electoral systems. Of course governmental actors may initially seek to use the roundtable form to convert old forms of power monopoly into new ones. and thus they cannot do so in good faith. We now possess a model of radical transformation that leads to the rapid and complete transformation of regime identity. as well as security for their persons and property. within an overall framework of legal continuity. governmental elites who have lost their legitimacy and their long-term optimism about staying in power seek guarantees for their future political role.

an institution or a group with strong political support can use successive reforms to stay in power even as old ruling structures are formally abandoned. but whose outcome is still controlled by the ruling institutions of the past. but their representatives can agree to set up these institutions when the logic of negotiation shows the erosion of their preferred conversion strategies. January 1995 (after J h o s Kis) Reform when it is reiterated can lead to change of identity. Elections organized from above turn out to be the best way to try consolidating a stage of mere . I call this transition path the electoral road. the initial wish to guarantee a foothold in power through a strong presidency is inconsistent with the logic of negotiations. Similarly. to call attention to the fact that. is continuous legitimacy in the context of legal rupture. in the longer term the roundtable countries typically turn out to be parliamentary republics. potentially significant one). increasingly pessimistic fornier rulers may. The most successful method for achieving this end is the use of top-down electoral reform to organize elections which are formally competitive. Nevertheless. and even dominant. they are less and less likely to concede such an institution which. whilst reform is depicted in terms of continuity in both dimensions. abandon the idea of a strong. or semi-presidential ones with very strong parliaments and responsible governments. Revolution in this scheme is represented by rupture of both legality and legitimacy. Table 1. might have seemed a small price to pay for democratic elections. Whilst short-term decisions on the structure of government depend on timing and sequencing (Poland initially wound up with a strong presidency and Hungary almost started with a directly elected. In the end. There were of course transition paths in the period between 1989 and the present which were quite different from those typical of Roundtable negotiation and compromise. elections may only lead to “soft” dictatorships or “hard” democracies. in their moment of weakness. as in Bulgaria.224 The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f stitutional courts are rarely wanted in the beginning by the rulers of the past. A fourth possible type. directly elected presidency. Once opposition forces discover that time is on their side. in themselves. In a suggestive four-part typology (Table l). one that he did not historically concretize. Paths of Regime Change Legitimacy Continuous Continuous Legality Rupture Rupture Regime change Revolution Reform Revolution from above autogolye Source: Constellations. chief executives along with weak parliaments. In the same period most other transition paths produced forms of presidentialism with strong. J h o s Kis has defined the path of negotiated regime change through the unlikely combination of rupture in legitimacy and legal continuity.

revolutionary and “autogolpist” paths. the creation of a constitution through executive fiat and the open manipulation of plebescitary ratification leads. bearing the marks of the dominant executive. ex ni/ d o . even the historical experience of the negative lessons of revolution will not deter democratic actors from following the path of insurrection. a fully-fledged revolutionary rupture of legitimacy and legality did occur in December. in 1993. 1989 and in the following months. and timetables. This is what has happened recently in Serbia. The preconditions for this version of reformism are viable legitimation claims. at least two partially competitive. at best. we must nevertheless be extremely concerned by the path of change which has almost always.’ If we count the new states emerging from the ruins of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia separately. finance. to a democratic regime with deep legitimation problems. even without electoral fraud. an outcome generally considered impossible in the recent literature on the transitions. under the extremely particular conditions of the communistsultanist regime of Romania. What is striking. Whilst it is generally right to speak of the obsolescence of revolution in this epoch. provisional government and constitution-making. There are regimes. In particular. I say “at best”. Even if one sympathizes with Yeltsin against his hard-line parliamentary opponents. whenever a regime has survived. however. a legitimate presidency. since free elections are highly sensitive targets to political intervention. since the constitutional design in Russia. whether these draw on older revolutionary or newer nationalist ideologies. from Louis Napoleon to Fujimori. there are more examples of the electoral road than of negotiated transition. Arato: The Roundtables. nevertheless. Finally. even in several extremely repressive (near “totalitarian”) settings such as Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia. What is nevertheless remarkable in the contemporary period is that. as Linz and Stepan showed when only a violent rupture (internally or externally caused) of both legality and legitimacy can bring the abolition of dictatorship? In such cases. in Russia. as it happened in Hungary in the mid1980s and in South Africa a few years later. is the obvious difficulties of consolidating democratic institutions and the emergence of semi-authoritarian practices in many of the cases which followed reformist. Thus all of the four types which follow from the scheme which varies the two dimensions of legality and legitimacy can be found in the period after 1989. In such cases elections only accelerate the process of decomposition. elections only large scale mobilization from below can complete the transition from a soft dictatorship or a hard democracy to a genuine polyarchy. or their eclectic combination.A. led to authoritarian outcomes. Democsatic Institictions and the Problem of Justice 225 “liberalization”. establishes a rather hard version of democracy. in com- . as well as by controlling access to the media. Of course governments do not always know with certainty whether a regime has sufficient reserves of background legitimacy to successfully institute and manipulate partially competitive elections. The method works. a revolutionary path was avoided. However. they can be influenced at the level of electoral rules. legally speaking. carried out a coup d’Ctat from above (or: autogobe) against the legal institutions of the Federal Republic. elected by means of democratic elections.

MAKING Russia. Russia (I). new STRUCTURE OF EXECUTIVE Parliamentary Parliamentary STRUCTURE Unicameral but in OF LEGISLAT. Cont. New Poland: Roundtable and parl. parl. Croatia.?) Lithuania: semi-pres. later bicameral? . with dir. continuity) Serbia. Cz-S. Constitution Making and Governmental Structure in Eastern Europe and South Africa 1989-1 997 ELECTORAL ROAD TYPES OF TRANSITION COUNTRIES Hegemonic Strong popular forces Government + Opposition Baltic States. Russia expanded for some issues Unicameral (inst.!) Slovakia: uni federal bicameral-federal ism] Cz: initially unicameral. Serb. Bicameral Russia also Cont. new S : new] parl. [South Africa] Government Opposition + Czech-Slovak Republic (orientation?) RUPTURE Insurrection or revolution from above (autugolpe) Romania.) [South Africa: contin.: parl.226 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungcirian Democracy Table 2. [GDR: RT fail Cz: pad. Ukraine: parl. GDR. ex-SU CONSTIT. Types of Transition. Bulgaria: unicameral Hungary: RT and parl. Russia phase I1 (autugulpe) Constitutional assembly and strong informal role of presidency Presidential (inst. of pres. Poland: bicameral. others parliamentary but dir. Lith. strong parl. elec. Slovenia [Spain (orient)] Poland (timing) Bulgaria NEGOTIATED PATH Government + Opposition + Hungary. Cz-S: RT and Parl: amendm. elec of pres in Slovenia Slovenia: assym. new Assem. Poland 1977: parl. amendm. bicameral (inst. Croat: Estonia: Const. Slov. Latvia: 1922 Bulgaria: RT and Constitutional Assembly Presidential (inst. Am. Bicameral Baltic: unicameral semi-presid.

later PR & 4% Poland 213 of combined parl.A. Croat. referendum Cz-S: 315 of lower house. Init. Bulgaria: part con. GDR: part unchangeable part 2/3 of parl. parts strongly entrenched. poss. Croatia. Poss. S : unclear Cz: 315 of par1 [of each house] Russia: many leveled. Ukraine qual. 0. Russia. initially no threshold. South Africa: PR coalitions after 1993: 5%. Court rev.. Hungary: 213 of parliament. maj. Serb. 213 of each. higher for plurality for Senate. Cz: med.. Serbia initially maj. Parliament majority Croatia: parl pres. ADJUDIC. Sen. init.. Est. 213 of prov. Latvia: none Estonia: weak Lithuania: medium Slovenia: strong Slovenia: PR Lithuania: Germ. later PR + then 5%. -~ Source: Compiled by Andrew Arato . later 3% ELECTORAL RULE 4-6% Poland: first partially Hungary mixed with 4 PR with S%for free. maj. GDR P R parties. Con. South Africa: 314. Poland 1977: 213 Sejm. Bulgaria: mixed.. REVISION RULE Serb. in upper house. Romania PR. part parl.: PR & Poland weak Bulgaria: med Poland 1997 Medium NEGOTIATED PATH Strong RUPTURE Cz-S: weak Slovakia: Romania: Weak med-str. typ 4% Latv. Romania: pres. CONSTITUT. Ref Baltic: parl generally w. of ref. poss. (on Russia: medium ( on paper) Russia: mixed. Arato: The Roundtables. 213 of parl. 315 of each nat. Democratic Institutions and the Problem o Justice f 227 (Table 2 cont’d) ELECTORAL ROAD CONSTITUT. of referendum Slov: 213 parl. Ukraine: Weak Russia: strong (on paper) Russia: partially free. ass.

the roundtables managed also to avoid the pattern of semi-corporatist compromise leading to restrictions on democracy. Admittedly. which was the context of their emergence in the first place. They are. In the roundtable countries the outcome depended on the institutional form of the transformation itself: a far more reliable factor than democratic orientation. one side (here the popular one) would have had the power to impose but chose instead formulas acceptable to its antagonists.~ Assuming (as I do) the exemplary character of the American model. rather than the military elites of many South American countries who would be both more vulnerable and more dangerous in the new democracy. for example. themselves in conflict with the central party-state institutions and under strong pressure from powerful popular forces. one problem which the roundtables were not able to resolve fully was the problem of legitimacy. or of having received a commission or a mandate from the electorate or its sectors. made possible open democratic elections which led to the creation of democratic institutions and constitutional limitations which resemble those of the roundtable countries. they did not expose their countries to the risks of dual power entailed by the American model of constitution-making through a separate convention facing the inherited legislature." Finally. in the midst of a truly great transformation. whilst their new actors operated under a veil of ignorance concerning the outcome of the first democratic elections. democratic oppositions at the roundtables (with the exception of the first case. However. Facing civilian rulers capable of effectively representing their interests in future elections. It is this feature which distinguishes their product from imposition even where. as in the case of the roundtable in Czechoslovakia. The roundtables are obviously not representative in any sense of picturing society and its interests. I see the essence of this form in the representation of societal plurality during the beginning of a new political system. The roundtables avoided acclaiming themselves as the functionary of the constituent power of the people. representative-in a purely dramaturgical sense-of making present the conflictual play of societal plurality itself. Because of their willingness to subordinate themselves to inherited formal legality.228 Tlie Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy parison to the roundtable or negotiated model (Table 2). the result depended on the democratic intentions and orientations of important sectors of former ruling elites. In these states. Poland!) were not forced to make undemocratic concessions to their adversary. however. in both Slovenia and the Baltic countries the (inherited) republican apparats. under the control and monitoring activities of a self-democratizing civil society and its public discussions. and at the same time they wrested the power to make the constitution from the constituted powers of the old regime. however. it would be di€ficult to find a better alternative to this than the roundtables which drew their legality from the parliamentary enactment of their work.5 . the anti-democratic consequences known both from the history of revolutions and from the more recent pattern of the electoral road so skillfully practiced by the Mexican ruling elite. a convention which unilaterally changed the method of constitutional alterati~n. The astonishing achievement of the roundtable path of negotiated transitions was to avoid.

all the roundtables fell into the way of producing more of a constitutional package than many of the participants on the democratic side were initially comfortable with. Only freely elected assemblies had the right. of course. and this is the reason why the representatives of the opposition in Hungary. there were important leaders who were not given powerful positions at the bargaining table. moreover. Moreover they controlled the non-democratic parliaments which had the role of formally enacting the agreements. and all of them. “off limits” to future criminal charges and re-distributive claims.6 The problem of justice was organically connected to the issue of the legitimacy of the roundtables.A. The challenge becomes all the more formidable when the legality is continuous with a hated past and when its new constitutional framework has only a doubtful democratic legitima~y. It was of limited help only that the negotiated constitutions were pronounced interim or provisional. in any case. and their clients. Legality is always heavily challenged by demands of substantive justice by innocent victims. democratic elections have preconditions which imply yet other presuppositions. Consequently. and. Only Solidarity and the ANC had leaderships known to the general population. The guarantees sought by the governmental side had at least the indirect result of placing the persons and property of the members of this side. it was important that the guarantees obtained would not be at the disposal of future parliaments or constitutional assemblies. the institutional interests of those elected under a temporary constitution would be in a strong position to re-establish their power in any new draft. Arato: The Roundtables. the very functioning of these bodies depended on not raising the question of the guilt and responsibility of the members of the old regime for the injustices of the past. it was repeatedly said. However. The actors often voiced their doubts concerning their own legitimacy. they put members of the old ruling stratum in a good position to fight for them in the new constitutions to be created. and they thus retained an additional level of control over the process which they would not have in the future. to do more. the roundtables left two difficult dilemmas to the new democracies which they helped to establish. Democratic Institutions and the Problem of Justice 229 None of the negotiating partners at the roundtables could play their important historical role as a result of democratic elections. Had the participants negotiated only the minimum conditions of democratic elections. Evidently. Their evident interest in constitution-making at this early stage contributed to the suspect legitimacy of the draft which emerged. The interim constitutions contained such guarantees. eschewed revolutionary selflegitimation. and who had distinguished themselves in open. and that. both flowing from the problem of legiti- .~ As I see it. Even in these two countries. Many commentators understood from the beginning that the interim might become permanent if the subsequent effort did not succeed. for example. popular struggle against the dictatorships. their own selfappointment to participate in the power to create constitutions would not have been a problem. The very nature of the method seemed to suggest elitism and exclusion. moreover. From the governmental side. and in the end even the African National Congress (ANC). wished to confine their agreements to a few “organic laws”.

or should the rule of law be rigidly adhered to. then special procedures. the two dilemmas exposed the roundtable settlements to potential second revolutionary challenges which would have vitiated a great deal of what had been achieved. only partially democratic.23 0 The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis ofHungarian Democracy f macy. the . The first dilemma was: should the needs of legitimation or the needs of constitutional learning be given priority. if the second. failure of the first. Similarly. In both countries. Given the provisional nature of their constitutional heritage and its doubtful legitimacy. Note that. one which was established through the existing amending power and was understood to be a provisional one. Without constitutional legitimacy and without denying the claims of justice. would have to be invented. taken together. to overcome the stigma of mere provisionality and to avoid the continued intermingling of constitutional and normal politics. and we are now in a good position to evaluate the choices made. piecemeal process of constitution-making. Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia the other. in particular. then the interim constitution should serve for a learning period in which its structural and contextual problems could be exposed and corrected through amendment. In Poland the initial revisions were less complete. In the area of constitution-making Poland and Hungary represent one extreme. and so it would be left to a much later constitution-making round to bring the process to a close.’ Deliberately or not. If the first. and perhaps un-remembered. if the second. After the. In Hungary the National Roundtable did produce a more-or-less complete constitution. The second dilemma is: should the requirements of justice be paramount. then there was a need to complete constitution-making soon after the first free election. it was clear that the process of constitution making would have to continue. If the first. the second Parliament produced only an extensive revision. probably inevitable. Parliament to produce a new constitution.’ Instead of producing a new constitution. even at the expense of the other. akin to revolutionary justice. certain extreme consensus requirements and establishing a stronger executive. given the lack of clarity concerning a method of dealing with past injustice. clear legal rules and procedures pertinent to the crime-as well as statutes of limitations-would have to be suspended or bypassed. with South Africa indicating the possibility of a synthetic approach. this problem would have to be raised again. the compromise agreements could be presented as a conspiracy of the old and new elites in which the price for a democracy which the two could dominate would be the survival of the social powers of the personnel of the old regime. and fundamental requirements of a modern legal system concerning the need for pre-existing. The solutions chosen in both areas were markedly different in the various countries. then grave crimes and human rights violations would have to go unpunished. with newly elected Parliaments having again undertaken the task of final drafting and enactment. removing. the Poles and Hungarians wound up with a gradual. “the Little Constitution”. the first freely elected Parliament (through a private agreement between the major government and the major opposition party) chose only to amend once again the interim one.

the outcome of the elections for this assembly. achieved in a constitutional manner. Not only future constitutional learning was thereby compromised. . and the ability of the Hungarian Constitutional Court in establishing a constitutional tradition through interpretation. Therefore. how much direct influence was actually involved. under these rules.A. In the Czechoslovak (or Czech and Slovak) case this election was. Now that this opposition also has parliamentary power. The Communist Party could dare to do this only because it was in a position to control the timing. should make the new constitution. rehsed to recognize the legitimacy of a. the Federal parliament was unable to agree on any formula for the continued association of the two republics. Here too. nevertheless. was not a federal republic with a difficult bicameral model of decision making and wound up with a model of constitutionmaking far less restricted than that of Czechoslovakia. A significant section of Bulgarian politics. the difficulty of a dual democratic legitimacy not effectively dealt with in the constitution. including constitutional ones. suspended between presidential and parliamentary institutions. for an ordinary bicameral parliament. Democratic Institutions and the Problem of Justice 23 1 process was still open as late as 1996-1997. which had acquired the presidency in the most recent democratic election. Bulgaria. at least for me. procedures and. although it is difficult to say. Eventual success in Poland. under difficult decision rules. the substantive virtues of the document may nevertheless lead to its reaffirmation. in power at that time in both countries. Two other factors played a role in the different outcomes: the. technically more than adequate. far larger than the camp of “second revolutionaries” in Poland and Hungary. their solution was. the Bulgarian and Czechoslovak Roundtables helped to organize free elections to assemblies which would have constitution-making as their major task. Arato: The Roundtables. Seeking the greatest possible legitimacy for a favorable constitutional synthesis which could be well insulated from radical future changes. even if the learning problem alluded to has not yet been adequately dealt with. the crisis threatened to become one of the whole new order. was conditioned by more favorable parliamentary arithmetic and the greater democratic loyalty of the post-Communist party. once again denounced the roundtable and its constitution. which would have to vote on all issues. as against failure in Hungary. far greater. At the other extreme. It is these last differences which may help the Hungarian new democracy to avoid the negative consequences of weak constitutional legitimacy in the face of a second revolutionary challenge whose energies are now nearly spent. to some extent. synthetic with respect to the extremes depicted so far. the governmental side at the Roundtable successfully proposed that a constituent assembly (the Grand National Assembly). in several respects. whose provincial assemblies subsequently inherited the task of constitution-making for separate countries. with few prior restrictions. In any case. As is well known. of course. constitution. when the new regime was confronted by its greatest learning crisis in 1996-1997. South Africans in 1993 and thereafter had the benefit of being able to learn from previous experience. structural difficulties of the Polish interim constitution. The opposition.

Evidently both approaches have their problems. Poland. something close to Mazowiecki’s thick 2ine was drawn between the future and the past. where the agreements became irrelevant in the context of unification. here the roundtable countries. both learning and legitimacy were taken into account. using the employment structure. no longer a threat to the new institutions. however. Taking the promises and mutual commitments of the negotiations seriously undoubtedly played a role. or manipulating the legal system to allow some trials. where mutual promises and confidence-building were extremely important in a situation with still unknown geo-political risks. inevitably leads to new injus- . there were attempts to use the criminal law against selected protagonists of the old regime from the Stasi chief Mielke and Honecker himself. was also important. There were. the so-called lustration procedures and the dismissal of civil service employees were used to punish large numbers of people involved. In this way. A series of constitutional principles was to provide a bridge between the negotiating forum and the final constitution. there is a collective responsibility to the victims which should not be put aside. and in Germany. without shackling the process with excessively difficult bicameral decision rules. in the Czech and Slovak republics. Finally. in the injustices of the past. however. None (fortunately) has opted for revolutionary. the constitution-making was organized in French style. Drawing a thick line involves simply forgetting the just grievances from the past. At the same time. However. Turning to questions of justice. and so many of the guarantees which were preconditions for a peaceful transition could not be abrogated. with the two chambers sitting together as the National Assembly. Even if historians and creative writers continue to remember. and so does the mixed Hungarian model which involved a reluctant and inconsistent process of “lustration” of some office holders. This procedure de-dramatized proceedings which did not fall to the temptation to assume an abundance of constituent powers. which can never be just. although elections were for a bicameral assembly. with built-in penalties for failure. and a few half-hearted trials for supposed war crimes dating back to 1956. show less variation. where the roundtable came closest to a mere form used by the opposition.232 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy the needs of democratic transition were answered by an interim constitution. However. facing similar problems. substantive justice and none has gravely compromised the rule of law. the principles (enforceable through the Constitutional Court) were not so narrowly constructed as to eliminate the freedom of the makers of the new constitution: the choice was open for example between the consociationalism present in the interim constitution and the more individualistic constitutionalism which was in the end established. moreover. to widely varying extents. In Germany. to soldiers responsible for border shootings of persons attempting to escape. variations in connection with the specific role of negotiated settlements in the results. incorporated a precise timetable for the production of the definitive constitution. The agreements. The ability of the former ruling parties to convert themselves into democratic competitors. At one extreme. Periodic efforts to arrange trials for those responsible for martial law failed abysmally.

Did the Roundtable model really matter? This question needs to be briefly answered. for example. simultaneously. The most difficult question in an age of democratic legitimacy is how to begin. or economics (five of the seven have made a success out of the transition to market economies). the full realization of the guarantees given to political forces which were asked to abandon their clear ability to use violence in furthering their political goals. than those superiors themselves. However. way. the roundtables made a great contribution to the consolidation of democracy. Democratic Institutions and the Problem of Justice 233 tice. the South African experience. that "lustration" processes and civil service dismissals cannot hurt those who have used their earlier position and networks to find employment. and the reconciliation of the two sides which violently clashed under the apartheid system. more abstract but equally important. which are by now almost undeniable. We might first answer that. in trials in Germany and Hungary. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission substituted a non-legal public process for criminal procedures.A. how to establish a new political order. never involved the promise that the past will be sealed and that the cries of its victims will be suppressed. The modern doctrine of the constituent power of the people sought unsuccessfully to give a purely democratic answer to the question of beginnings. but also Latin American cases has much to teach us. in the private economy. and compromises the law itself. it has been far easier to prosecute relatively low-level officials who had committed acts of violence on the orders of superiors. Whilst it is true that the six (or seven) roundtable countries mentioned here have had conspicuous success in the early consolidation of democracy. because of their constitutional results and the political culture of negotiation and compromise which they have fostered. conceding in effect that democracy cannot begin democratically. It is this form which is most consistent with the spirit of the roundtable transitions. the Roundtables matter in another. Note. however. as late as Rousseau. Note also that. Its aim is. Arato: The Roundtables. The Commission's work allows the opening-up of this past in a way consistent with the explicit and implicit agreements at the negotiating table. resorted to the figure of a foreign legislator to answer this question. This answer can be challenged empirically. The roundtables. through the promise of amnesty. older political traditions (five out of the seven are Catholic or Protestant). Part of our best explanation of their success (so far!) has had to rely on the appropriateness of the design which emerged from the negotiations and from the subsequent constituent process. This is so. inevitably involving learning from the East European. indeed positions of power. Ancient and modern republicans. since the procedures of the Commission allow. because there are those who are skeptical about the significance of transition paths altogether. Democratic consolidation in Bulgaria and South Africa however. the establishment of a historical record of human rights violations." It . cannot be explained on these lines. Once again. the favorable outcomes may be due to other factors such as geography (five out of the seven are Central European). and the increasing popular attachment to the main features of this design.

See the essays of Luciano Martins and Kevin Middlebrook in O’Donnell and Schmitter eds. Foundations. Linz and A. The most successful version in Mexico kept the PRI in power. Latin America (Baltimore. brilliantly analyzed by Bolivar Lamounier (in “AuthoritarianBrazil Revisited: the Impact of Elections on the Abertura” in A. They do not assume a legal vacuum (another myth) for their operation. by those who successfully appoint themselves to speak in the name of the people. from the outset. The roundtables. Constitutiori and Legitimacy (Lanham. 1991) 58-61. 2. in the name of the people. On a typology which uses the electoral road see Andrew Arato “Interpreting 1989” in Civil Society. in the Future o the Liberal Revolution (New Haven. but to the history of political thought itself.234 The Roundtable Talh o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f united. Their achievement belongs not only to the epoch of the recent transitions to democracy. Note that in the 1980s Brazil and Mexico tended to be analyzed in a parallel and open-ended fashion. avoided the danger of dual power. however. I (Cambridge. At one logical juncture or another this answer leads to the imposition of rules. 1996) S5ff. and they frankly concede the impossibility of purely democratic origins. They represent. Certainly the American model of 1787 pre-supposed societal pluralism and avoided identifying the constitution-makers with sovereignty and the plenitude of powers. Rousseau’s “legislator” and his “sovereign”. Mass. and 3. 2000). Stepan Problems o Democratic Transition and Consolidation (Baltimore: The f Johns Hopkins Universuty Press. and a demanding model of ratification. and with whom a mobilized segment of the population can identify. 1986). not a unitary will. 3 Bruce Ackerman We the People. Md. 1991) I disagree however f with Ackerman who. v. for more than 20 years. 2 J. in a liberalized version of the regime. They do not assume a mythological answer to the question of beginnings. but societal plurality itself. 1992). they surpass this explosive alternative in three respects: 1. or meta-rules. More importantly. and they help to construct a pragmatically viable legality out of the fragments of law available. . Stepan ed. supposedly. Przeworski’s example here is the instability of the nbertura in Brazil. given the dominance in European history of the model of the sovereign constituent assemblies speaking. Democratizing Brazil (Oxford. by relying on a convention restricted to constitution-drafting. The contribution of the roundtables to an equitable institutional design and the consolidation of democracy ultimately rest on their innovative response to the problem of how to begin a democracy. How long.. in many settings such a model of two national assemblies carries the danger of dual power and violent confrontation. 1989) gave the military regime ten more years of life. disparages the model of constitution-making through round tables acting through inherited parliaments. Notes 1 Adam Przeworski Democracy and the Market (Cambridge. As we have seen in Russia in 1993. must a policy succeed for it to be considered successful? The electoral strategy in Brazil. however. by claiming no legitimacy and only an informal role. Transitions from Authoritarian Rule. This solution inevitably comes into conflict with the modern factuality of societal pluralism. in effect.

Elster in The Roundtable Talks and the Breakdown of Communism (Chicago. is difficult for ordinary parliaments to satis@ after the first democratic elections. Faure and J-E. 1989 [1928] ) and Hannah Arendt’s On Revolution (New York. 1993.D dissertation (1999). 7 See the fine work by Ruti G. Before democratic elections. 1994). no. however. 3. 1999-2000). cit. Bozoki et al. 1. Vol. 1415 in M. Democratic Institutions and the Problem o Justice f 23 5 4 I have elsewhere argued that parliamentary constitution-making has a good chance to satisfl demanding requirements for legitimate constitution-making (publicity. (ed. In English. Lane: South Afiica: Designing New Political Institutions (London. constitution-making by inherited. 5 See Janos Kis “Between Reform and Revolution” Constellations (1995) vol. Because I presupposed Hungarian developments. A rendszenxiltas forgatokonyve: kerekasztal targyaldsok 1989-ben in 8 volumes (Budapest. Arato: The Roundtables. the veil of ignorance in the empirical sense. No. On the Polish Roundtable see W. 10 See Car1 Schmitt Verfassungslehre(Berlin. One important criterion I stress. and chapters 1-6. authoritarian or semi-authoritarian parliaments has nearly insoluble legitimation problems. 1996). legality). 7 . . 1962). 8 See my chapters 4. 9 We are now fortunate to have all the necessary documentation as well as outstanding commentary in A. For the South African model see Atkinson op. 5 and 6 in Civil Socieg. Osiatynski’s article in J. 2000).A. Boz6ki’s own article in volume 7 is still the most insightful single piece on the Hungarian Opposition and National Roundtables. see: Andras Boz6ki: “Hungary’s Road to Systemic Change: The Opposition Roundtable” East European Politics and Societies.). On Bulgaria see the outstanding Graduate Faculty PhD dissertation (2000) by Ralitsa Peeva. The Small hfiracle (Randburg. See “Forms of Constitution Making and Democratic Theory” in Civil Sociev. 1996). Constitution and Legitimacy. 2. Constitution and Legitimacy. I have not sufficiently stressed in my article the role of roundtables in solving this problem. 6 On the South African case see the fine articles (chapters one and four) by Doreen Atkinson in Friedman and Atkinson eds. The other best work in English is John Schiemann’s comprehensive Columbia University Ph. My own analysis of this question is in “Forms of Constitution Making and Democratic Theory”. plurality of democracy. consensus. Teitel TransitionalJustice (New York.

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Back to Europe: The International Background of the Political Transition in Hungary. for instance. Gorbachev was elected as secretary general of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. it was all too late. etc. S. in March 1985. In the case of Hungary. international politics had an unfavorable impact on the state’s national interests from the 16th century until 1989. for the first time in their lives and after a long period. however. The arms race with the United States. the fate of East-Central Europe was determined by the superpowers and the realities of world politics. Nicaragua. Thus. In addition.) which brought no real profit had eaten up the economic reserves of the Soviet Union to such an extent that the chances for consolidation were rather slim in a socialist economic system which was. By the middle of the 1980s’ however. extremely ineffective. Imperial Armament When M. Gorbachev and his reformer associates did not adequately assess the severity of the approaching cri- . Hungarians could enjoy a social experience which proved that the rivalry between the superpowers and the conditions of world politics can sometimes exert a positive effect on the enforcement of Hungarian national interests. the peace treaties after World War I. as had been the case over the past few centuries. Angola. Afghanistan. 1988-90 Csnbn Bkkks At the end of the 198Os. and the expenses of an irrationally oversized imperial periphery (Cuba. in any event. explicitly favored the interests of most of the nations in the region by establishing nation states and by satisfying territorial demands at the expense of the losing countries. the need to maintain parity in nuclear strategy. Ethiopia. the political changes of 198990 resulted not only in the establishment of democracy and the restoration of sovereignty. he undertook a task no less formidable than that of breathing new life into a socialist economic-political model which had already fallen into serious crisis at both the center of the Soviet Empire and its East European periphery. The collapse of the 1956 revolution is only the most recent example of the tragic effects of international political trends on Hungarian society. It would be interesting to see whether the reforms which Gorbachev introduced or simply envisaged could have proved effective a few decades earlier.’ Imperial Status QUO. but. This was not always disadvantageous for each of the countries of the region.

1988. when he delivered his speech at the UN General Assembly on .” Therefore. at its special meeting in Prague in the middle of October. In his address Gorbachev assessed the role of the socialist camp in shaping world politics and its chances for the future as definitely positive. as well as the traditional imperial attitude which also characterized the views of the reformers to quite a large extent.” and that it could no longer afford to run a permanent arms race with the West. Therefore this step. which was originally intended to strengthen security and confidence. however. Typically. to develop a more flexible negotiating strategy. 1988. especially in traditional arms. in a closed session of the foreign ministers.23 8 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy sis. when the so-called CFE talks did commence in Vienna: The unilateral steps towards disarmament. While the Soviet-American disarmament talks. brought a remarkable result in December 1987 with the signing of the INF agreement on eliminating mediumrange and short-range nuclear missiles. Therefore. Moreover. 1989. would have provided an excellent opportunity to reduce military expenses significantly. which Gorbachev regarded as especially important. was postponed until March. this would also have had a positive effect upon building security and trust between East and West. until the summer of 1988 the Soviet leadership refused to take any unilateral steps in disarmament? They failed to do so in spite of the fact that the considerable Soviet advantage. Although the new leadership had emphasized from the beginning its commitment to establishing a new international order which would replace the old cold war opposition. until 1988. in particular-after changing its former position-to take unilateral steps towards disarmament. the Committee concluded that admitting the advantage of the WP in a number of fields before the negotiations started would have an unfavorable effect on the position of the alliance. had been announced by Gorbachev well before this time. a real change could only take place at the Warsaw meeting of the Political Consultative Body of the Warsaw Pact (WP PCB) on July 15th--16th. On the other hand. to transform the structure and deployment of the armed forces of the WP (exclusively for meeting defensive needs). it failed to make the best of this possibility by reducing the armament costs of the Soviet Union radically and promptly. The Committee of the Defense Ministers was then commissioned to consider how the real data on the armies and the armament of the Warsaw Pact states could be made public. given that it exceeded the Eastern block “in every possible respect. ~ With a view to this. the reforms initially formulated with much caution in terms of “perestroika” and “glasnosty” did not significantly improve either the political conditions or the efficiency of the economy. he stressed that the termination of the arms race had to be given absolute priority and every chance had to be grasped in order to come to an a ~ e e m e n t . and. Eduard Shevardnadze openly admitted that the Soviet Union was “facing a critical situation. Because of the resistance of the Soviet military lobby and of conservative members of the leadership. the WP PCB decided to speed up preparations for their forthcoming negotiations on conventional arms. even though they were aware of its inevitability. which became increasingly intensive starting in the middle of the 1980s.

rather. Gorbachev was ready to replace the Soviet expansionist policy based on supporting the “liberation movements” of the third world with a more up-to-date strategy of exporting the revolution via the appeal of the new socialist model. predetermined by ideological considerations which prohibited the timely elimination of most earlier obligations.8 . Czechoslovakia. This unilateral reduction in the armed forces by no means signified a cut in military spending by the Soviet military leaders. at its own time quite radical but at the same time a rather late one in terms of consolidating the Soviet economy. which would involve extremely large short-term costs. On this occasion the secretary general of the CPSU announced that the Soviet Union would reduce its armed forces by 500. the Soviet Union could eradicate the intolerable economic burden of supporting its allies only through its own dissolution. which-in his hopes-in the meantime had been reformed and made effective. It is quite likely that it was primarily this challenge (or the failure to meet this challenge). Due to resistance from conservative members of the leadership and the need to consider the prestige of the Soviet Union as a world superpower. or exhausting the “action radius”-a problem under which several empires had collapsed before in the course of history. and thus led to the fall of the communist system itself. or immediately after. or. reducing the imperial periphery. almost nothing was achieved in the area which had otherwise offered the Soviet Union the most profit for the least investment: maintaining. however. including the use of the state reserves also.000 troops and that this would be accomplished by withdrawing some of the forces stationed in the GDR. in the s u m e r of 1988 the Moscow leaders intended to increase the defense budget by 43% (!). rather than the American SDI “Star Wars” program. and Hungary.6 The imminent comprehensive modernization program of NATO caught the Soviets-who wanted to maintain strategic parity at all costs-in a trap out of which the only escape was to carry out the unavoidable reduction simultaneously with. eventually led to the loss of Soviet influence over the East Central European region. was not free from inconsistencies. very few concrete steps were taken in this direction before 1988. Even in 1989 to finance the imperial periphery. however. the Soviet army’s accelerated modernization. Fwthermore. so pushing the economy to the brink of total c o l l a p ~ e . to be followed by the departure of Cuban volunteers from Angola in January 1989. Although one of the most remarkable results of the Gorbachev reforms was undoubtedly the introduction of pragmatic policy-making and the reduced emphasis upon communist ideology in both foreign and home policy.C . as a result of constant over-expansion.Bkkks: Back to Eirrope s 23 9 December 7th.’ This decision. inherited mostly from the Brezhnev era. Although the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan started at the beginning of that year. 1988. Quite the contrary: however surprising it might seem. these happened all too late. ~ This inflexible imperial policy. which eventually brought the Soviet Union to its knees in the arms race. consumed huge sums (keeping Cuba alive alone cost 27 billion rubles annually).


The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy f

The Soviet Union and East Central Europe at the End of the 1980s
Up to the present, the most important question and the one attracting the greatest attention is: how the Soviet leadership could, eventually, have tolerated losing control of the region previously considered to be of the utmost importance, and for which their predecessors had made great sacrifices for more than four decades. At the time when Gorbachev rose to power, Soviet policy continued to give the preservation of East Central Europe as a security zone for the Soviet Union the absolute priority it had enjoyed, uninterrupted, since 1945. Initially, the primary goal of the transitional policy announced by the new secretarygeneral was to make the economic system more efficient and the political system more democratic, albeit in a limited sense. In other words, modernizing the socialist model inherited from the Stalinist era. Gorbachev believed not only that this program could be successfully accomplished in the Soviet Union, but also that the modernization of the system was an “objective necessity” deriving from the essential conditions of the age.9 Sooner or later, he maintained, the countries of East Central Europe would follow this good example of their own accord, since it represented the only possible means of avoiding imminent crisis, or surviving the crisis, once it had developed. In similar situations, Gorbachev’s forefathers-especially the father of the de-S talinization campaign, Khrushchev-never bothered to rely on the principle of voluntarism when urging partners to follow the Soviet Union’s good example. Gorbachev, however, had good reasons not to try to impose the reforms on his allies. He regarded political stability as a key factor in accomplishing a successful transition in both the Soviet Union and East-Central Europe. At the same time, the situation was rather confused in this respect. In Hungary and Poland, where commitment to reform was alive even without Soviet influence, the economic conditions, indebtedness, and social dissatisfaction gave cause for serious alarm as early as the mid-1980s. In the GDR, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria, each of which had a more conservative leadership, the political situation seemed much more sound, despite the apparent stagnation. Therefore, imposing the new Soviet policy on these countries would not only have conflicted with the new Gorbachev style, it would also have involved the risk of destabilizing those countries in which this problem, at least, had not existed before. Therefore, in the second half of the decade Gorbachev followed the policy of patient persuasion, and attempted to achieve his goals via frequent bilateral and multilateral talks, personal visits, and public appearances. At these meetings, Gorbachev tried to make it very clear from the beginning that he wanted to establish relations with the Eastern European allies on new foundations, although the principles of such a new policy were not codified in any way or in any particular document for public consumption. With regard to the principles or promises of this policy, there was little new to be offered, given that the Soviet government’s October 30th, 1956 declaration-never cancelled-

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24 1

stated that the socialist countries could “build their mutual relations only on the principles of complete equality, of respect for territorial integrity, state independence and sovereignty, and of non-interference in one another’s internal affair^."'^ This is not to say that Gorbachev, contrary to his predecessors, really took these high principles seriously, or that he was ready to give up the leading role of the Soviet Union within the socialist camp. It is obvious, however, thatcontrary to any other former leader-he did seriously believe that a new relationship must be built which was more equal than it had been in the past: one which could put an end to the Soviet guardianship role,” one which could achieve real mutuality in the exchange of ideas and experience, which acknowledged the right to find one’s own way within the socialist model in practice as well as in principle, and which could offer the chance of relatively independent policy-making, provided that the alliance system was still respected. One could even say that, between 1985 and 1989, Gorbachev offered the entire Eastern camp an alliance system for lasting use which the Khrushchev leadership, confused by the events in Poland and Hungary, had regarded as tenable for only a single day (October 30, 1956), and, even then, only for Hungary.12 All this did not mean, however, the abandonment of the Brezhnev doctrine: that is, the acknowledgement that the Eastern European nations were entitled to a truly free choice, including the elimination of the socialist system and the restoration of parliamentary democracy. This must be emphasized because today some of Gorbachev’s former associates tend to suggest that the Brezhnev doctrine was essentially rejected in 1985-86, or even, as some might argue, in 1981 when a Soviet military intervention in Poland did not take place.13 Based on currently available sources, however, it can be clearly established that no significant change in Soviet attitude occurred before the middle of 1988. Moreover, when, in the second half of that year, or at the beginning of 1989, the thesis came to be adopted that, in the case of potential crisis in the socialist countries, the possibility of Soviet military intervention must be excluded, this was formulated in the hope that the outcome of the radical changes would be a new model of socialism, a new model which-thanks to its capacity for renewal and, hence, its popularity among the public-could ensure a dominant role for the communist party in political life even after free elections. All this was closely related to the radical changes which took place in the Soviet Union in the summer and autumn of 1988. The national party conference held in June gave new momentum to “perestroika”, and, from this time on, the major direction of the reforms was increasingly aimed at restructuring the system of political institutions, since the measures which had already been introduced in the field of the economy had produced very poor results. At the end of September Gorbachev strengthened his position within the leader~hip,’~ from then and, on, he enjoyed the unquestionable authority which every secretary-general of the Communist Party is entitled to have “in times of peace.” During these few months qualitative changes took place in Soviet policy in several respects. The program of modernizing the Stalinist model came to be replaced by an effort to


The Roiiiidtable Talk o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f

develop a new model of socialism which could possibly blend the most advantageous features of both systems. This “rubber” concept-heavily influenced by the theory of convergence-went through a number of transitions in the coming years. No-one knew what it really involved until it turned out that it was nothing else but capitalism. It was at this time that the Gorbachev-Shevardnadze duet was able to start undertaking their own initiatives; this time without significant obstacles. This resulted in a real breakthrough in the most important field, that of SovietAmerican relations, and a new relationship between the leaders of the two superpowers began to be established which could not have been conceivable even a few years earlier, when President Reagan called the Soviet Union the “evil empire.” Given Gorbachev’s ardent urgings to build a new world order based on trust, mutual security, peaceful co-existence, co-operation, and the elimination of the division of Europe, normalization of relations with the leading powers of Western Europe became extremely important. Although only in the summer of 1989 did the secretary-general pay his crucial visits to London, Paris, and Bonn, the intensive exchange of ideas had began earlier, and serious reservations were replaced by qualitative changes in the attitude of the Soviet government, especially with regard to the FRG. This latter development was, to a large extent, due to the intervention of the Hungarian leadership, which had for some time cultivated excellent relations with the West Germans, and was negotiated by Khroly Grosz during his Moscow visit in July 1988-at the request of Chancellor Kohl.lS

The Only Means: “Floating ” the Brezhnev Doctrine As far as East-Central Europe is concerned, there were two fundamental changes in the Soviet policy at this time which had a considerable influence on the fate of the region: the adoption of the principle of “socialist pluralism” and the introduction of a new strategy in the alliance-floating the idea of the Brezhnev doctrine. At the 1988 June party conference, Gorbachev-without any preliminary theoretical elaboration-declared that any nation had the right to choose its own social-economic system. Jacques Levesque raises three reasons for the announcement of this very important, albeit far from unambiguous, thesis. In his view, Gorbachev’s major goal was to win the confidence of the West, since, in addition to his position on Afghanistan, Gorbachev’s willingness to tolerate changes in Eastern Europe was the main basis which the West used to judge his true intentions. Another aim was to prepare the Soviet nomenclature and the party apparatus for the changes so that they could condition their old reflexes. A third goal was, possibly, to warn the communist leaders of Eastern Europe that, in the future event of a domestic crisis, they should not expect automatic Soviet

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aid. This could be conceptualized as a kind of political pressure, whose aim was to nudge the unwilling allies toward adopting reforms.IG Based on currently available sources, it seems quite likely that, in June 1988, these factors had little more than an instinctive rather than a conscious influence upon Gorbachev’s intentions. The most important goal might have been the introduction of a new type of discourse on the increasingly critical topic of the Soviet Union’s relations with the Eastern European states, a discourse which could provide the Soviet reform leaders greater room and opportunity to maneuver than they had possessed before, thus giving them the chance to respond flexibly to the ever-changing situation. The thesis cited above was repeated by Gorbachev and other leaders several times and in several forms over the course of 1988-89, and was very soon supplemented by the promise to cease the use of military force. The essence of these multifunctional declarations, simultaneously addressed to all interested parties and deliberately meant to be ambiguous, was that, although they implicitly rejected the possibility of military intervention, they never stated categorically that the Soviet Union would not interfere with an ally’s domestic affairs, should the political transition, horribiZe dictzi, result in the total abandonment of socialism and the restoration of parliamentary democracy.17 In other words, this thesis concerning the free choice of individual countries could be interpreted as being in harmony with one’s own interests and desires, whilst at the same time, given the turbulent circumstances, it could also be interpreted in precisely the opposite way. In addition, all of this was supplemented by a method of “orienting” and sharing confidential information at the highest levels of bilateral relations between each of the East European countries and the Soviet Union. Sometimes this “dialectical” approach manifested itself in a very concrete form. On KBroly Grbsz’s visit to Moscow at the end of March, 1989, for example, Gorbachev stated that “today the possibility of repeating interference into the domestic affairs of other socialist countries must be excluded once and for all,” but on the other hand, he also emphasized that “we clearly have to draw the boundaries, thinking about ourselves and others at the same time. Democracy is much needed and the interests have to be harmonized. The limit, however is the safegtravding of socialism (emphasis added-Cs. B.) and the assurance of stability.’”’ As for how to interpret “the boundaries,” no one in the Eastern bloc had had more experience of this than the Hungarians, as the official explanation of the Soviet invasion on November 4th, 1956, was based on the same logic. According to this, Soviet intervention did not mean a violation of those high principles expounded in the October 30th Soviet government declaration, but, very much to the contrary: those very principles were put into practice. The declaration rejected the idea of intervention only in the case of a socialist country, whereas the developments in Hungary had threatened the existence of the entire socialist system. The initially instinctive, but later increasingly conscious, tactic of floating the thought of the Brezhnev doctrineI9 was successful and effective, at least tempo-


The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy

rarily. It also had a definite stabilizing effect upon the accelerated transition both in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union and contributed to a large extent to preserving the peaceful nature of the changes. One can imagine what would have happened to the position of the Soviet reformers, within both the leadership and society, if a categorical declaration had been made overnight that Eastern Europe, for which the Red Army had shed so much blood, could now determine its own fate freely-including the possibility of the restoration of capitalism. At the same time, floating the Brezhnev doctrine also had the advantage of enabling the Soviet leadership to accustom society, and themselves as well, gradually to the idea that the Soviet Union might have to accept from now on unheard-of radical changes in Eastern Europe. This tactic hada similar stabilizing effect on the transition in the region, and it probably played a key role in ensuring that, apart from the Romanians, the communist leaders were too unclear concerning Soviet intentions to dare to engage in any kind of repression against the mass movements which emerged in the autumn of 1989. The same blocking effect deriving from uncertainty can generally be observed in the policy of the opposition forces, although it manifested itself in different forms in the two leading reform countries, Poland and Hungary. At the roundtable talks in Warsaw, which started in February, 1989, the position of Solidarity and its readiness for compromise was strongly influenced by the need to consider the difficulty in assessing the tolerance level of the Soviets. In the June elections held after the preliminary agreement, however, this consideration did not prevent Polish society from giving nearly all its mandates to representatives of Solidarity, thus inflicting a crushing moral defeat on the communist regime.20 In Hungary, the opposition appeared to be less worried about the Soviet attitude-at least this might have been the impression of a contemporary observer, given that the Opposition Roundtable (EKA), established in March, 1989, was able to come to agreement with those in power at the negotiations, started in June and concluded in September, that a Western-type parliamentary democracy with virtually no limitations and with free elections based on real competition should be introduced into the country. In fact, an element of uncertainty was always in the air during negotiations. It was no accident that the EKA insisted that one of the six committees discussing the various aspects of the transition be concerned with legal guarantees which could prevent any kind of retreat to the old system?l The deviation from the Polish model and the special nature of the Hungarian transition are clearly demonstrated by the fact that, at the beginning of 1989, the Hungarian leadership was just as interested in eliminating the Brezhnev doctrine as the opposition, since they hoped to transform the basis of their legitimacy from Soviet support to the potentially positive outcome of the forthcoming elections.22Strangely enough, the opposition expected its political rival, the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party (MSZMP), to provide the external conditions for a peaceful transition and to give them a guarantee that the Brezhnev doctrine was no longer in force. The representatives of the EKA posed an explicit question on

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this issue to Defence Minister Ferenc KiirpSlti on August 30, 1989, when he gave them confidential information on current military-political i~sues.2~ Beyond all this, from the middle of 1988 to float the idea of the Brezhnev doctrine was virtually the only “weapon” left to the Soviet leadership with which it could, at least for a short time, have an influence on the political processes running their course in Eastern Europe. After all, by then Gorbachev and his associates had abandoned the possibility of military intervention. Unlike their predecessors, who had much more modest goals, the Soviet reformers striving for a radical reformation of East-West relations and a new world order based on co-operation simply could not afford any kind of armed intervention aimed at restoring order and the old system without jeopardizing the results already achieved. This danger not only would have emerged in world politics, but would also have caused the West to lose its confidence in Gorbachev. This, then, would have meant the collapse of “perestroika”, the program of transformation, Gorbachev’s first priority. It was at this time that the fate of Eastern Europe was subordinated to two factors of a different order: to the highly ambitious goals of the Gorbachev leadership in world politics on the one hand, and to the success of the Soviet transition on the other.24The latter-based on available sources but in full knowledge of the events to come-might well be called a life-or-death fight for the survival of the Soviet Union. Hence, I believe that the main reason why the Soviet Union agreed to let Eastern Europe go its own way so easily was that this was the first time since the Russian Civil War that the Soviet state-paradoxically, still a leading superpower of the bipolar world order in a military sense-found itself in a situation in which its own survival was at stake. Giving priority to saving the imperial “centre” was a logical and necessary step, with respect to which the Eastern European periphery gradually lost its significance. If one tries to find a historical parallel, this could be described as a Brest-Litovsk syndrome. At that critical moment of the civil war Lenin also argued for a peace treaty to be made with the Germans which, while involving the loss of significant territory, would nonetheless preserve the Soviet state. Lenin proved to be right on this point, but, like the Soviet Union itself, his later successor, Gorbachev, was to be overtaken by history.
Soviet Prognoses on Eastern Europe

Starting in the beginning of the summer of 1988, the Soviet leadership began to realize that both the Soviet economy and most of the countries in the socialist camp were either in a state of crisis or on the verge of falling into one. In a report made at the beginning of October 1988, Georgi Shahnazarov, Gorbachev’s chief advisor in charge of East European affairs, assessed the situation as follows: the chances are considerable that several socialist countries will soon go bankrupt together, since some of the allies (Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Vietnam,


The Rottndtclble Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy

Cuba and the GDR) are “on the brink of monetary insolvency.”2sAlthough several of the leaders must surely have already been worried about the situation, Shahnazarov was the first to state the dilemma in such drastic terms: “What shall we do if social instability, which is now taking an increasingly threatening aspect in Hungary, should encroach upon another bout of trouble-making in Poland, demonstrations of Charter-77 in Czechoslovakia, etc., in other words, do we have a contingency plan in case of a crisis which might encompass the entire socialist world, or a large part of it?”26 Since the question was rhetorical, the adviser suggested that the newly formed International Committee of the CPSU CC should have some analyses carried out of this issue and that the Politburo should discuss the report with experts no later than January, 1989. In fact, by the beginning of the following year, four reports were completed by the “Bogomolov Institute,” the Department of International Relations of the CPSU CC, The Foreign Ministry, and the KGB. (Thanks to the research of Jacques Levesque, the first three are now publi~.)~’ In reviewing these reports, we can agree with Levesque’s assessment that the first represents a radical reformist position, the second a centrist one, and the third a combination of conservative and reformist ideas. Thus, these three reports contain significant shifts of emphasis in assessing the potential developments in Eastern Europe.28However tempting it would be to analyze and compare these documents in detail, €or reasons of space I will confine myself to examining those common features which represent the views and prognoses of the experts preparing the decisions (and, indirectly, of the decision-makers also) as tendencies at the very beginning of 1989: 1. In the first two reports the assessment of the situation is identical: the Eastern European countries are in general crisis, and relations between the Soviet Union and its allies have also become critical. 2. In all three reports, the main theoretical objective is to ensure the success of the new model of socialism and to preserve the foundations of this renewed system. 3. At the same time all three reports accept the possibility that the transition might go beyond these lines, which would then lead to the total abandonment of socialism and the restoration of Western-type parliamentary democracy. 4. According to the first two reports, the Soviet Union should not try to prevent such a development.23 5. Therefore-and even the least reformist Foreign Ministry report agrees on this-the possibility of Soviet military intervention in the case of a crisis in an Eastern European country must be reje~ted.~’ 6. According to the first two reports, if socialism is abandoned, Soviet influence could be maintained by a “Finlandizati~ra”~’ the region, with the of important modification that the existing alliance system-that is, the Warsaw Pact-should be permanently maintained.32

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The significance of these analyses lies above all in the fact that they represent the first time that the drastic consequences of abandoning the Brezhnev doctrine were put in explicit terms (albeit strictly for confidential use): there is a real chance that the transition process in Eastern Europe will lead to the total abandonment of socialism and the restoration of capitalism, and if the situation develops in this way, the Soviet Union should not prevent it. The first two months of 1989, therefore, represented a turning point in the transformation of the Soviet position concerning the fate of Eastern Europe: the period of becoming accustomed to the idea of change was over, and the ball was now in the other court. At the January 21, 1989, meeting of the CPSU Politburo, Gorbachev himself formulated the problem as follows: “The peoples of these countries will ask: what about the CPSU, what kind of leash will it use to keep our countries on? They simply do not know that, if they pulled this leash more strongly, it would break.”33As the previous discussion made clear, it is no wonder that they did not know. The last tool in the hands of the Soviet leaders for maintaining their influence on developments in Eastern Europe was to continue floating the Brezhnev doctrine as much as they could. Their explicit aim, therefore, now became the concealment of this secret from the countries’ ruling and opposition parties for as long as possible. Moreover, the leadership continued to attempt to convince themselves and others too that, if radical changes were initiated by the communist party and the transition took place under their control, then the result-even though it might greatly resemble a Western democracy-could still be called a new model of socialism. Gorbachev himself, however, appeared to view the developments with much less illusion at this stage, and he thought that the historic defeat of socialism would be a reality not only in Eastern Europe but in the Soviet Union as well. According to a diary note made by his closest associate, Anatoli Chernayev on May 2nd, 1989, “He is prepared to go far. [...] His favorite catch-word is ‘unpredictability’. And most likely we will come to a collapse of the state, and something like chaos. He feels that he is easing the levers of power irreversibly, and this realization prevents him from ‘going far’.[ ...I He has no concept of where we are going.’934

The Changes in Eastern Europe and the West
Gorbachev’s rise to power, and his reforms and initiatives in the field of international politics and domestic relations, posed great challenges to the Reagan administration which had ruled the US since 1981. Before the Gorbachev era, the American leadership viewed its historical mission to end the Cold War in such a way that the new round of the arms race, which had resumed in the second half of the 1970s, would bankrupt the Soviet Union. The primary means of executing this new strategy would have been the Star Wars (SDI) program. When it became increasingly more obvious, however, especially during 1987-1 988, that


The Roirndtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy

Gorbachev’s dynamic personality made him more than just another Khrushchev, and that his initiatives aimed at eliminating confrontation should be taken seriously, another, no less tempting alternative began to unfold. This alternative envisioned the possibility of agreement and long-lasting co-operation which would have made possible radical reduction in armaments as well as intemational tension. Due to its budget deficit, the United States also had an interest in reducing military spending, although it is quite likely that, if needed, it would have been able to find the necessary resources to finance the SDI program, albeit at considerable sacrifice. Such a pact between the superpowers would have also had the advantage of strengthening the leading position of the US in relation to Western Europe which was unifying into a potential “third power.” The December 1986 summit meeting in Reykyavik between Gorbachev and Reagan can be regarded as a step in this direction, which provoked heated criticism from the United States’ Western allies. The Malta summit between Bush and Gorbachev three years later belongs to this same category of meeting, and is regarded by many as the concluding act of the Cold War.3s In fact, however, the Reagan administration hovered between these two alternative concepts, and it was only after Bush’s inauguration at the beginning of 1989 that a significant step forward was made. No significant change can be discerned in the United States’ Eastern European policy before 1989. This policy involved a different approach to each of the countries of the region, and the goal, realistic under the given circumstances, was to soften and liberalize the communist systems by several means: exerting economic pressure, continuously calling these countries to account for their human rights records, and supporting opposition movements. Strangely enough, during the period between 1985 and the end of 1988, American and Soviet views concerning the desired transition of the region had gradually converged. For the Soviets, more and more matters could be regarded as part of the democratization process and the concept of a new socialist model, whilst, for the Americans there was still not much hope of a radical change in the situation-that is, the restoration of parliamentary democracy. The first important change took place in the spring of 1989 when President Bush took office. This was not due, however, to Ihe new leadership taking a completely new approach to the question, but rather to the fact that, in the meantime, a change of historical importance was beginning to emerge in Eastern Europe. At the beginning of February, roundtable talks between the government and the legally-acknowledged Solidarity movement began in Poland. By April they had come to an agreement, and the first “semi-free” elections could be held in June, resulting in a sweeping victory for the opposition, which won most of the seats contested. In Hungary the Central Committee of the MSZMP accepted at its February 10-1 1 meeting the introduction of a multiparty system, and it also adopted the position that the 1956 events in Hungary constituted a “popular uprising” and not a “c0~nter-re~o1~ti0n)’. In June roundtable negotiations began between the state party and the members of the Opposition Roundtable. Al-

At least not yet.37 The historical merit of the Bush administration is that it did not cave under pressure. is avoiding these steps. Bush outlined the At essence of his policy to Gorbachev in very clear terms: I hope you noticed that. but also to Western Europe in at least two respects. Gorbachev’s vision of a “common European home” had the direct implication that a . we are in favor of reserved behavior. All that was needed for success was for the United States. 1989. and Western Europe in general. the most important factor was that these events. There are people in the United States who accuse me of being too cautious. and my Administration will seek to avoid doing anything that would damage your position in the world. however. especially after December 1988. the restoration of the constitutional state.”40 Gorbachev’s entrance on to the scene posed a great challenge not only to the United States. and. and when. In the spring of 1989 the Bush administration which had just taken office began to accustom itself to the idea that the old American dream originated by President Eisenhower was about to come true: the peaceful self-liberation of Eastern Europe with Soviet approval. since 1945. waited for the communist systems in Eastern Europe to collapse of their own accord. When visiting Budapest after a trip to Warsaw in July 1989. the problem of the potential Soviet threat.~’ Essentially the same position was communicated at the meeting with the leaders of the opposition. 1989. summit in Malta. in a restrained. to give the Soviet Union-as far as it was possible-the opportunity for a dignified withdrawal from the region.36 Assessing this from the American viewpoint. had always been a cardinal issue for both Western politicians and the public. which.7739 the December. He explained to his associates that “these really aren’t the right guys to be running this place. President Bush explicitly stressed at discussions with the leaders of the Hungarian government and the MSZMP that the United States would show a neutral attitude concerning the Hungarian tran~ition. while the changes in Eastern Europe have been going on. the United States has not engaged in condescending declarations aimed at damaging [the prestige ofJ the Soviet Union. but I’m not a coward.Bkkks: Back to Europe 249 though the position and the social legitimacy of the Hungarian opposition was much weaker than that of the Polish. in January.Cs. and preparations for free elections. I am a prudent man. cautious manner. My Administration. which left President Bush with a rather poor impression. or even any sign of disapproval. The new Soviet policy promising the elimination of confrontation and the peaceful coexistence of the two systems offered a chance for a lasting solution in this respect. But I was insistently advised to do something of that sort-to climb the Berlin Wall and to make broad declarations. took place without any Soviet retribution. It is true. which would have seemed unbelievable even a year before. One was the security of the Western part of Europe: in other words. promising talks began in Vienna concerning the radical reduction of conventional arms in Europe. when the unilateral reduction of the armed forces of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact started. what was at stake was no less than the total demolition of the party-state.

until 1989. etc. but also by the worry that the total collapse of the Eastern European countries on the verge of economic bankruptcy might result in social explosions. especially during 1988-1989. Such conflicts would endanger the process of integration. On the other hand. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher not only expressed her conviction to the Soviet . they did support developments pointing towards a democratic transition in these countries and the opposition movements fighting for this course. Consequently. they periodically assured the Soviet leadership and Gorbachev himself that the West would not interfere with events in Eastern Europe and would not do anything which would cause destabilization in these countries. the leaders of the Western European countries did not simply want to stay neutral. the fate of the region-as had always been the case throughout the previous decades-was logically subordinated to the interests of Soviet relations. rather. It is a historical irony that. when. therefore. to exert a moderating influence in two different directions: on the one hand. which were becoming better and increasingly more promising. much as the communist reformers had originally done. ethnic conflicts. . more importantly. To interfere with anybody’s internal political development now would mean to take a destructive line which would throw Europe back to the times of caution and At her April 6th. which would have a negative influence on Western Europe as well. 1989 meeting with Gorbachev in London. Chancellor Helmut Kohl explicitly stated: “[. much less the fall of the Soviet Union. Western Europe received the Soviet initiatives with great sympathy. they sought to convince both the communist and opposition leaders in Hungary and Poland that they should slow down the pace of the changes in order to maintain stability. the most positive reactions came from the Soviet Union’s two main enemies during World War 11: the FRG and Italy. no-one in Western Europe had expected that developments in Eastern Europe could lead to the total collapse of communism. but. 1989. in the Soviet assessment. At his meeting with Gorbachev on June 12th. on moral grounds. they intended to exercise a blocking and moderating effect on the process of Eastern European transition. The main consideration for politicians interested in the success of “perestroika” was to ensure the security interests of the Soviet Union. maintaining stability at any cost was of primary importance.] I am not doing anything to destabilize the situation. They envisaged the transition as a slow process which would last for years. and. This position was not only motivated by concern about the potential Soviet reaction. developments in Hungary and Poland accelerated-partly as a result of the initiatives of the reformers-most Western European leaders judged the pace of transition to be too rapid. Therefore. Therefore. in the first half of 1989.250 The Roirndtable Talks o I959: The Genesis of Hirngarinn Deniocrncy f much less divided Europe could play a more significant role in the bipolar world order than previously-and with the able support of one of the superpowers.. as well. They intended. and they viewed the maintenance of the Eastern European status quo as its primary guarantee.“’ Since.. they would jeopardize the stability of the entire continent. Although. in Bonn. This applies to Hungary and Poland.

Helmut Kohl outlined his position on the Hungarian transition as follows: “We have rather good relations with the Hungarians.” but she also declared that she had warned the leaders of Solidarity “to seek a dialogue. who was worried about the potential negative effect of such a step on his own country’s relations with the Soviet Union. I said to them that you can never leave the negotiating chair empty. they believed that the desired stability could only be maintained by avoiding a change of the whole system: that is. however. due in part to the gradual alienation of the late 1970s and to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. but rather with their knowledge and consent. This was later prevented. even in the summer of 1989. At his meeting with Gorbachev on June 14th. this was the only means of maintaining the stability of the political system in Hungary. if you would like to hear our advice.”43 This moderating role was taken so seriously by the West German leadership that. not by the Moscow leadership. However. but by Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.]. when I meet with the Hungarians. Moreover. The Hungarian leadership did not achieve this status against Moscow’s wishes. One important aspect of this special status was that it enabled Hungary to develop intensive economic and political relationships with Western states precisely during those years when. relatively independent status. because you might lose control over your mechanism and it will start to work to destroy itself [emphasis added-Cs. East-West relations were at a low unprecedented since the Cuban missilecrisis. He explicitly talked Kadhr out of this plan on his visit to Born in April 1982? During this period. I tell them: we consider the reforms which are underway in your country your internal affair. 1989. This is how Hungary was able to join the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in 1982. That is why. we are sympathetic. the political transition itself. we also do not want destabilization there.’744 The Political Transition and the Foreign Policy of Hungary Since the end of the 1970s Hungarian foreign policy had enjoyed a kind of special. not limit themselves to confrontation.Cs. it would not lead to anything and I can see that they have listened to my advice. because of the ever-worsening economic situation. B.Bbk&: Back to Europe 25 1 leader that Jaruzelski was “a prominent and honest politician” who “does everything he can for his country at a very difficult stage in its development. we recommend that you do not accelerate too much. Kadar managed to convince Brezhnev and his successors that. Hungary’s increasing use of Western credit appeared advantageous to the Soviet Union as well. since it indirectly removed burdens from the Soviet economy while the person of Kidir himself guaranteed unquestionable political loyalty to Moscow. high-level relations with Western countries . as early as 1981 some exploratory talks were already underway concerning a potential agreement with the European Economic Community. However.

This had nothing to do with the removal of Kadhr or with the party conference in May. the reduction of military forces and the withdrawal of the Soviet troops.46 . The first qualitative change in foreign policy-just as in the transition within the country-took place in 1988. Khdhr paid visits to Bonn and to Rome in 1977. if you feel it justified. however. The old foreign policy deriving from the 1970s was built on a relative autonomy. French President Francois Mitterand in 1982. 3. in turn. 6.252 The Routidtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hiingurian Democsacy became very intensive. which. After Poland lost the sympathy of the Western states after the introduction of martial law in 1981. however. After Gorbachev entered the scene. as a result. if a policeman tells you to stop. you can even run the risk of later rebuke by ignoring him and simply driving through the intersection. opening up towards the West and joining the European integration processes. Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in 1979. and Helmut Kohl. This was the time when a new concept was being outlined which could possibly give Hungary the role of a form of bridge in East-West relations based on a new world order of co-operation. don’t lose heart. In turn. This concept still assumed the preservation of the old alliances (the Warsaw Pact. The question now is how this new approach exerted its influence in the most important fields as listed below: 1. the conflicts with the countries of the Eastern bloc. and Bettino Craxi in 1984. they would no longer hinder Hungary in establishing relations with other countries or organizations which would satisfy her own national interests. 4. was visited by French Prime Minister Raymond Barre in 1977. meant that. although now only as of secondary importance. whatever. the new concept meant-to borrow the terms of the “rules of the road”that. but it also expected that these organizations would undergo the necessary democratic changes. however. and proactive foreign policy was. as did Romania due to its repressive policy. Today. to Bonn again in 1982. Hungary becme favorite in the eyes of the West as the most acceptable country of the Eastern bloc. Hungary. in simple terms. but rather with the significant positive changes taking place on the international political stage. although this thesis was never articulated in explicit forni either in public or privately. the issue of reorganizing the Warsaw Pact and the issue of neutrality. the situation changed inasmuch as the Soviet leader took over the role of the primary promoter of dialogue between East and West. The initiating and moderating nature of Hungarian foreign policy was preserved. we can establish that this characterized the Hungarian efforts between 1988 and the 1990 general elections. aimed at accomplishing a kind of quasi-neutrality. Margaret Thatcher. the restructuring of the CMEA. 2. Council of Mutual Economic Assistance [CMEA]). Indeed. and to London in 1985. Vice-President George Bush in 1983. to Paris in 1978. 5. is not forbidden is allowed. in practice. but try to convince him to let you through. and that. This new. Hungarian-Soviet relations. dynamic.

and accepting more than one candidate in general elections. however. although more progressive than that of the conservative camp. after studying what the Hungarians had accomplished a few months before. which public opinion viewed as a betrayal of Hungarian national interests. While Gorbachev was absolutely right regarding this.BkkPs: Back to Europe s 253 The Moscow. since they were in numerical minority in the Warsaw Pact and the CMEA. Hungary simultaneously played the parts of best student and teacher. different special committees of the CPSU Central Committee were formed. Moreover. In July 1988. and. Close co-operation had its drawback too. because such a move-with respect to the separatist movements and the ethnic conflicts within the empire-could have unforeseeable consequences in terms of the inner stability of the Soviet Union. an informal Moscow. for the Hungarians considered it to be late justification of the reforms which had been going on since the 1960s in adverse Eastern “winds.Warsaw-Budapest Triangle Hungarian-Soviet relations were characterized by a particular dichotomy concerning the questions of “perestroika”. The only possible explanation for Gorbachev’s aggressive intervention into Hungarian politics is that the Soviet leader was not . “naturally” had to be “sold” as an autonomous Hungarian decision. which was well ahead of its partners in the transition process. It was no accident that Gorbachev’s policy was received most favorably in Hungary. Co-ordinated action very often meant that the Soviet leadership requested support for a position which. did not fully. represent the interests of Hungary. such as reorganizing agriculture. he was wrong in persuading the clearly unwilling secretarygeneral to take a step-the meeting with Ceausescu in Arad-which not only destroyed Gr6sz’s prestige as a leader. but that they could not represent this position officially. which was referred to in contemporary Hungarian documents as “those in close co-operati~n. “glasnost”. the Soviets introduced several innovations and changes. accepting the role of the market to a limited extent.Warsaw-Budapest triangle was formed. Gorbachev explained to Khroly Gr6sz on his visit to Moscow that the Soviet leadership definitely took Hungary’s side in the debate. A significant compromise was imposed on Hungary with respect to the handling of the Hungarian-Romanian conflict. among them the new International Committee headed by Yakoviev.47 During 1988-1 989. they attempted to establish a unified position within both organizations so that they could exercise pressure on the countries with a conservative leadership. in the autumn of 1988.C . but also undermined the position of the MSZMP. and reforms in general.” After carefully considering Hungarian experiences.”~~ leaders of the three countries tried to harmonize The their views on economic and political reforms at bilateral negotiations. which became public by 1988.49This is because the meeting. or even partially. This special relationship most likely made a significant contribution to the positive Soviet attitude and the Soviets’ tolerance of the transition in Hungary and the pioneering efforts of the country’s foreign policy.

a similar step was never to be taken during the existence of the Soviet Union. 1956. and of which the Soviet secretary general himself had a very low opinion. Today we know that a draft letter was written which.51 Nonetheless. what was at stake here was no less than the survival of the imperial center which. Therefore. but regarded the mere fact of a Romanian-Hungarian conflict as a source of danger which could further erode the already weak inner cohesion of the Warsaw Pact. for whom attempting to improve East-West relations was an important factor. the Soviets simply acknowledged it without a word. his re-assessment of the October.50In fact. 1956 events as a popular uprising. The first important development in the course of the Hungarian transition for which there was no Soviet consent was the January 28th. Considering the “competitors. who now stood in the way of radical change. but it was viewed as such by the Soviet leaders. This thesis was so far removed from current Soviet views that. the Soviet Union had cracked down upon a democratic national movement and not a counter-revolutionary uprising. In the spring of 1988 the reformers of the MSZMP believed that they could rely upon Soviet support for the removal of Jhnos Kidir. at the same time. when Khroly Gr6sz and his associates solved the problem on their own at the 1988 May party conference. Gorbachev. had no interest in speeding up the reform process in Hungary. the Hungarian transition was still well ahead of Soviet reforms. although the 1968 Czechoslovakian invasion was denounced in December 1989. It is only in this context that we can understand what made Gorbachev request his close ally to make such an unfortunate compromise with a Romanian leadership which had already accused the Soviet Union of betraying socialism. since the new interpretation of the events meant that. the correct “dialectical” nature of handling the problem made it possible to avoid having to address the direct historical responsibility of the Soviet Union. whilst. In addition.254 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy merely worried about the possible outcome of an open endorsement of the Hungarian position. was given maximum priority. Khdhr-after Gorbachev-was still the most respected and acceptable leader of the Eastern camp in the West. there were two turning points in the Hungarian transition in which the expectation of Soviet intervention was not fulfilled. despite the stagnation under Kidir. Moreover. From a . in consequence. 1989 interview with Imre Pozsgay-or more precisely.52Gorbachev must have understood very well that this genie could never again be ordered back into the bottle. on the explicit orders of Gorbachev was never sent to Budapest. However. At the same time. and-what was even worse-could easily strengthen centrifugal forces in the multinational Soviet Union itself. on November 4th. This announcement is even more significant when we consider that it was also the first “anti-Soviet” move by the Hungarian leadership.” this was not a remarkable achievement in itself. he might have hoped that the MSZMP’s position could be greatly strengthened if the party itself dealt with the matter rather than let the opposition capitalize upon it politically. it would have been a logical step to rebuke the Hungarian leadership. as has been seen.

1989. In Hungary there is no rotation in politics. [.] If the MSZMP falls as a governing party. unilateral or multilateral military action should take place in the name of defending socialism [in H~ngary]. All this coincided with a radical change in the previously-outlined Eastern im European policy of the Soviet Union. at the end of June. a different political system. even by those involved-which was exactly as intended. Horn. cautioned members of the Central Committee against any illusions: “ . This change was not perceived for some time. as a result of which four decades of fr control was replaced by an automatic process whose central element was to float the Brezhnev doctrine and maintain the uncertainty deriving from it.. as the point in time when it became clear to them that the Soviets would not intervene in Hungary. meeting of the MSZMP Central Committee: “Today there is no question at all of intervention within the Warsaw Pact-we have long outlived the Brezhnev doctrine-as is well exemplified by the decision on a multiparty system which was our own sovereign decision. this would be equivalent to a political transition. Horn said the following in his speech on the second day of the February 20th-21st. almost insoluble. our situation should not be confused with that of any other democratic country. The best example of this. I wonder whether it will be tolerated by the alliance system. Even in the . declaring that on October 23rd. We have already discussed Karoly Gr6sz’s experiences in this respect during his visit to Moscow in March. In a confidential analysis made a few weeks earlier. in case of a retreat to the old system [in the Soviet Union]. this need was basically met by the text of an announcement issued after the February 10th-11 th meeting of the MSZMP Central Committee. predicted after the victory of Solidarity in the general elections in Poland in June. it was explicitly stated that “the present guarantees do not exclude the possibility that. in reference to the inevitable outcome. already in the role of foreign minister. 1956 a popular uprising broke out. As a secretary of state at the Foreign Ministry.~’ The success of the Soviet tactic is well reflected by the fact that. Rezso Nyers regarded July. 10 years after the event. dilemma which it brought to the Hungarian leaders can be found by comparing two contemporary statements made by Gyula Horn. however. who very likely had the most information concerning the intentions of the Soviet leadership.Bkkks: Back to Europe s 25 5 formal aspect. even if the transition was to lead to a total abandonment of socialism.56 Conjlicts with Countries of the Eastern Bloc The structure of the conflicts within the Warsaw Pact had changed radically by 1988-1989: the earlier scenario (Romania against the other countries) was replaced by opposition between the reformers and the conservatives. by the end of October counter-revolutionary developments had started to unfold. but that. and Imre Pozsgay November of the same year..”53 Four months later.. I do not think That was what a Hungarian politician.. 1989. 1989.C .

Hungarian foreign policy tried to achieve. the Hungarian authorities took a firm stand on defending the interests of Hungarians living in Romania and openly admitted their conflict with the Romanian leadership. when Romania launched its so-called “systematization” project. when Hungary joined the Canadian proposal which was formally aimed at strengthening the rights of European minorities. but which was essentially a call to the participating nations to denounce Romania. the human and collective rights of the two-million strong Hungarian minority were more and more drastically restricted in Romania. at the Vienna follow-up meeting of the conference on European Security and Cooperation. the public had very little knowledge of these conflicts. in the second half of 1988 and in 1989. the opposition rather than the ruling party which was able to capitalize on the rehabilitation of national feelings and sentiment. at the same time. This unsuccessful action had fatal consequences for the MSZMP. Since Hungarian attempts to resolve the problem on the basis of bilateral negotiations all met with failure. The meeting in Arad cast a long shadow over these attempts. The situation became especially serious with the 1972 announcement of the national homogenization program aimed at the total elimination of national minorities and the establishment of a Romanian nation-state. Hungary-known earlier for its loyalty to Soviet interests-simultaneously assumed the double role of leading reformer as well as of primary trouble-maker in the Eastern bloc. in spite of the fact that afterwards. however. The situation became even worse at the beginning of 1988. by placing the issue of human rights in the limelight. It was. meeting of the secretaries-general of the two parties in Arad was held under Soviet pressure and initiative-Ceaugescu gave the Hungarian leaders two days (!) to consider accepting his offer for negotiations-and did not bring any improvement in relations between the two countries. and especially after Nicolae Ceau!jescu came to power in 1965. the Hungarian leadership could take advantage of its special position as the country whose internal situation most closely fitted Western expectations during those years. thanks to the great efforts of the Soviet leaders. The August 28th. and the GDR-but. these conflicts took place openly in the public eye. this had resulted in serious tensions in the relations between the two countries. Paradoxically. indirectly. The first open step was only taken in March. factors: on the one hand. 1988. therefore. masses of Hungarian Romanians started to flee to Hungary because of increasing discrimination. international condemnation of Romanian policy in international forums. even worse. whilst.256 The Rotrndtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy summer of 1989. . it took place at a time when the Western states placed great emphasis on human rights issues and human rights records in Eastern bloc countries. Czechoslovakia. By the end of the 1970s. This tactic was motivated by two different. whereby they intended to destroy several thousand villages. but related. This is because Hungary not only came into serious conflict with three of the four conservative countries-Romania. on the other hand. Since 1956. 1987. who constantly tried to maintain unity by all possible means.

The Hungarian minority in Czechoslovakia did not have to endure a drastic policy of discrimination similar to that in Romania. On this occasion. Fearing the est ab1ishment of a Czechoslovakian-Romanian “axis. and the reassessment of the 1968 intervention. They imposed conditions on regulating the relations between the two countries: the Romanian side should cease its discrimination against the Hungarian minority as well as its propaganda and military threats against Hungary. the Hungarian government. the negotiating parties agreed to have a meeting of Prime Ministers. and so provoked resentment in the Czechoslovakian leadership. Furthermore. because of the events of the autumn and winter of 1989. In 1989. it should allow Hungarian cultural products into the country. however. the situation of Hungarians in Czechoslovakia. Gyula Horn indicated that. with the provision that the Hungarian delegation should have the chance to visit areas inhabited by Hungarians when studying the effects of the systematization plan. this time the Hungarians were able negotiate from a quite different position. in Bucharest. which became increasingly independent and outspoken from the beginning of 1989.~~ Although at the Arad meeting KSlroly Grosz had been forced to retreat into a defensive position against the Romanian leader. but this by no means signifies that the Hungarians were able to exercise their collective and human rights without restriction. Since the Czechoslovakian government-also referring to social pressure-insisted that the dam should be built as planned. three fundamental questions caused serious tensions in HungarianCzechoslovakian relations: the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros dam. and foreign minister Gyula Horn on the spot to an “unofficial” meeting. in order to continue with the tug-of-war. Prime Minister Mikl6s Nkmeth. a long-lasting conflict on this issue emerged between the two countries which continues to this day. under the given circumstances. it should abort execution of the systematization project in the regions inhabited by Hungarians. The Hungarian media. Hungary would propose international supervision of the situation of the national minorities and of the systematization Although. which the Hungarian delegation-possibly following Soviet advice once again-a~cepted. In 1989. discussed this issue quite frequently. None of this materialized. unilaterally halted work on a dam on the river Danube. a construction project based on a contract between the two countries in 1977. partly for economic reasons and partly as a result of social pressure which had been intensiQing for years.” the official Hungarian . In addition. 1989. and a renewal of Hungarian-Romanian relations took place only after the radical events of December. Bkkks: Back to Europe 257 The last attempt of the Hungarian leadership to resolve the conflict through bilateral negotiations was made at the session of the Political Consultative Body of the Warsaw Pact at the beginning of July. Ceaugescu invited MSZMP chairman Rezso Nyers. 1989. there seemed little hope that the Hungarian deniands would be met.Cs. they agreed to exchange a parliamentary-local council delegation. if necessary. and it should stop the humiliating harassment of masses of Hungarian tourists at the Hungarian-Romanian border.

Prime Minister Mikl6s Nimeth and Foreign Minister Gyula Horn discussed the issue on August 25th with Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher in the Gymnich castle. that the Czechoslovakian leadership would accept a scenario in which. the Czechoslovakian leadership had every reason to be worried. however. the fact that a member state of the Warsaw Pact which had also taken part in the intervention said that it “does not identify with” the intervention no doubt contributed to the destabilization of the Czechoslovakian situation a few months later. at the beginning of May. in accordance with the policy of opening up to the West.”63 A few hundred people did succeed. initially. Since their own legitimacy was at stake. tens of thousands of East German tourists traveled to Hungary in the hopes that they would be able to escape through Austria to the FRG via the now open “green border. through Austria. where they presented a Hungarian plan. however. Indirectly. After they failed to do so.6*The Czechoslovakian ambassador to Budapest instructed to mediate in the matter. at the beginning of August.~’ The greatest source of tension between the two countries. according to which the Hungarian government . 1989. Firstly. “under international circumstances”. decided to participate in the intervention.258 The Rottndtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f leadership explicitly refrained from addressing this issue. and stressed at the bilateral meetings that its conflict was essentially with R~mania. on September 11th. Whilst the declaration was meant to be cautious. and for some time it hoped that the two German states would reach an agreement in order to resolve the crisis. was caused by Hungarian developments concerning the “Prague Spring” and the military intervention in Czechoslovakia. Paradoxically enough. this German refugee situation was the only one in which the Hungarian leadership considered itself absolutely innocent. and only later. 1989.G2In consequence. The Hungarian leadership was not willing to do this. as his private opinion. this conflict was initiated by the Hungarian side when. although it very soon became clear that the settlement of the problem required political means. they expressed their resentment concerning an interview with Alexander Dubcek aired on Hungarian television. the offenders should have been deported back to their own country. and after the Hungarian-East German attempts also met with failure. however. they strongly objected to an interview in which the head of the foreign affairs department of the MSZMP CC envisaged a reassessment of the events of 1968. Hungary decided to remove its electronic signaling system and barbed-wire-the “iron curtain”-from the Austro-Hungarian border. on the basis of which. also stated. The official communiquk issued by the Hungarian party leadership on August 17th did take this proposal into consideration.“ Then. the decision which had the greatest impact on the collapse of the Eastern European communist systems was the one which made it possible for GDR citizens staying in Hungary to leave for the FRG. Inarguably. however. since it had no interest whatsoever in destroying relations with the GDR which were fairly balanced under the given circumstances. The leadership of the GDR demanded that Hungary comply with the 1969 bilateral treaty. Hungary had supported a political settlement of the problem.

however. from the very beginning. however. for an internal issue of the Eastern bloc was at stake. despite his promise to the Hungarians. would have been called illusory by many even in the FRG. All of this. it would have a pacifying rather than a destabilizing effect. which. Chancellor Kohl. All in all. and. Most likely the Soviet leaders-as the other players in the game-did not calculate the potential consequences of such a decision and hoped that. this step did mean a crossing of the Rubicon. had another dimension also: beyond indirectly contributing to the export of “counter-revolution” through her own example as a leading fighter on behalf of reform. We still lack an answer as to why Gorbachev reacted so weakly to this rather significant challenge. On the contrary. he urged that the mechanism of co-operation within the Warsaw Pact be modernized. Hungary directly accelerated the fermentation process and the destabilization of the communist systems. these were the first cases in which the leadership decided to prioritize national interests over those of the alliance (and also of the Soviet Union). as . but also to the achievement of German re-unification without significant restrictions. Nowadays. Tlte Restructuring o the WarsawPact and the Issue of Neutrality f After rising to power. according to the practice of the past two decades.65and. something which. Hungary’s engagement in such open conflicts was not motivated by any intention to raise tension in any of these situations. we know that exactly the opposite took place. called Gorbachev to learn what Soviet reaction could be expected concerning the planned Hungarian move.C . each of these steps in Hungarian foreign policy represented new milestones on the road towards true autonomy. Gorbachev not only promised a new relationship with the Eastern European allies. whilst the Hungarians agreed to the settlement of an issue with a NATO member (the FRG) without consulting the Soviets.Btkks: Back to Europe s 259 would make it possible for GDR citizens to leave the country freely. and could even facilitate the acceleration of the transition in the country in a controlled manner. it meant Soviet approval of the situation. as it turned out later. At this point. if dissatisfied people left the GDR. in all three cases the Hungarian leadership acted only after lengthy agonizing and under the influence of external forces and pressure. but. By the summer of 1989 it had become characteristic of the radical changes in international politics that. “The Hungarians are good people” was the obscure answer. had always been regarded as the cornerstone of the foreign policy of any Soviet leadership. and that the mass movements emerging in the autumn of 1989 not only led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the GDR. in the summer of 1989.64In some sense. As has been seen above. To this effect. since 1945. the Soviet Union should also have been consulted on an issue of such great import. not only was the question of Eastern Europe in general at stake. but the German question as well.

based on this work. 1956. an expert committee was formed to study the questions related to reforming the organization. however. the governing board of the SZDSZ proposed in its statement that the government should declare Hungary’s neutra~ity.68 By this time. after the Assembly Act was passed in January.” and which was read out on the national holiday of March lSth. following the “French model. Hungary had a de facto multiparty system. At the beginning of that year. 1989. and that. setting the goal of achieving neutrality. declaration of neutrality (which was in force for three days) had an impact on the foreign policy of several parties for some Moreover.67At the Warsaw session of the WP PCB in July 1988. on April 16th.” it should not participate in the military cooperation of the organisation. especially since the declaration was also signed by those historical parties with whom they intended to form a coalition after the general elections. in addition to the traditional dissenter. the November lst. Romania. a real debate over the reformat of the Warsaw Pact was initiated by a Romanian motion submitted at approximately the same time. the leadership of the MSZMP had every reason to be concerned. the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) suggested that Hungary should request special status within the Warsaw Pact. and. the other member states also started to insist upon their own special interests. the above proposal-which could have become the means not only of co-ordination but also of centralization-was accepted by the Hungarian leadership. and the organization should be turned into an exclusively military alliance. and. served as the starting point for nearly all opposition organizations. 1985. thanks to the political changes in the country. Then. the issues concerning Hungarian relations with the alliance were no longer under the exclusive jurisdiction of the MSZMP. in addition. The outcome of spontaneous deniocratization under the influence of the new Soviet policy of emphasizing the importance of partnership was. the Hungarian leadership had worked out its position by March. only in July. No significant change was accomplished in the structure of the Warsaw Pact. however. 1988. the opposition parties mushrooming all over Hungary could function legally. amongst others. until it was dissolved in 1991. which had been in close co-operation with the Soviet Union continuously.66 Strangely enough. While the Hungarian leadership . at least in terms of political rhetoric. moreover. for example.260 The Roundtable Talk of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy early as October. that. 1989. it suggested that the Political Consultative Body of the Warsaw Pact should be dissolved. Thus. he proposed establishing a permanent political body whose task would be the improvement of co-ordination between the member states. In the spring of 1989. Basically. Although this demand could be regarded as more of a symbolic position based on an emotional approach than o€ a mature and co-ordinated plan by the opposition.~~ The tradition of the 1956 revolution. the only joint declaration concerning the country’s foreign orientation which was endorsed by all opposition organizations over the course of the political transition was Item 12 of the communique entitled “What does the Hungarian nation demand.

the main goal of Hungarian diplomacy should be to ensure the highest possible degree of national sovereignty achievable under the given conditions. in any event. and instant integration with the West.C . warned that “today the Soviet Union recognizes the sovereignty of its allies and allows them to choose their own course of internal development. 1988. and that. on the one hand. 1989.” Therefore. “the Hungarians entertain illusions. and not n e ~ t r a l i t y . to strengthen the democratic process of its decision-making. When it turned out. the Hungarian leadership essentially took a pragmatic position on the issue of the Warsaw Pact. Soviet ideas were largely in harmony with Hungarian proposals. although. for. to improve its efficiency. the Western partners which otherwise supported the Hungarian transition-consistently sent signals warning Hungary that such an endeavor should not expect endorsement in international politics. in the short-term it did not believe it to be a realistic goal but rather a factor jeopardizing a peaceful transition in the count ~ This was not a groundless view. the Hungarian position on the status of the Warsaw Pact gave priority to the benevolent attitude of the Soviet Union. and to eliminate the principle of mandatory consensus. but-against their better judgement-also those which sought the establishment of a permanent political body or the deepening of co-operation between the parliaments of the member states. member of the Presidency of the SDP. ” ~ ~ In April 1989. at this stage. They reckoned that. Volker Riihe. the Soviet nuclear umbrellawould continue to ensure the security of the country. Hungarian tactics were aimed at ensuring that the three “reformers” could effectively hold their position against the four “conservatives. the Hungarian side submitted a proposal at the Warsaw meeting of the PCB of the Warsaw Pact suggesting the creation of a permanent committee of deputy ministers responsible for humanitarian issues and human rights which would also facilitate the constant supervision and discussion of the situation of national minorities.”7’ Taking these signals into consideration. deputy leader of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group also declared to his Hungarian negotiating partners that. Hungary’s rapid withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact. On Khroly Gr6sz’s visit to Moscow at the end of March. on a number of issues. that. on the one hand. and.74 From time to time. however. In June. the WP-or more precisely. such as the issue of neutrality. Thus. this compromise-seeking policy also claimed sacrifices. the Soviet Union was ready to obstruct the Romanian plan proposing to devote a sepa- . It is very important that all the Hungarian parties reach a consensus on not going beyond this line. The line for the Soviet Union is drawn so that this course of development should not endanger the unity of the Warsaw Pact. they endorsed not only those proposals which were meant to change the political nature of the organization. after the dissolution of the two political-military blocs. ~ ~ more importantly. the Soviet Union-and . the positive Soviet attitude would enable the country to fulfil its peaceful transition. As a result.” Egon Bahr.Bkkks: Back to Europe s 261 considered neutrality to be a possibility in the long-term. on the other hand. Gorbachev stressed that “under present conditions it is the modernization of the Warsaw Pact which should be the main target.

they had already managed to win Gorbachev’s support for a very promising concrete initiative.79 Another especially important step for Hungarian diplomacy was its August. however. 1988. and this proposal was to meet with failure due to the attitude of the United States. after having consulted with the Italian government (!). however. at the end of that year. provided that the F-16 fighter planes to be withdrawn from Spain were not re-deployed in Italy. This intention. which could by no means be taken for granted. military spending was reduced by some 10 billion forints by the end of 1988. 1988. Soviet support €or this intricate political game. 1988. proved to be insufficient. fortunately.77Then. and so the Hungarian endeavors would have met with utter failure. This opportunity. Since these modest results in the field of reducing military spending could liberate significant financial resources. Hungarian diplomacy. public declaration that the forthcoming international agreement on the reduction of conventional armed forces in Europe should extend to the troops stationed in Hungary in the Jirst phase. in August.76As a result. they also indicated that neither would they support the motion concerning the human rights committee. and without making this fact public. meeting in Bucharest to the issue of endangering the cause of socialism in Hungary and Poland.262 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy rate session at the July. however. In that region. it was the Western allies who needed to make significant reductions. Hungary was not able to comply with the agreement on military co-operation in the Warsaw Pact in force until 1990. on the other hand. upon Khroly Gr6sz’s visit to Moscow. This explains why. even though it had been regarded as extremely important. 1988. it was in the interest of the organization to put Hungary into the Southern European theatre so as to improve the ratio figures where NATO had superiority.75 Arms Reduction and the Withdrawal o Soviet Troopsfrom Hungary f From the very beginning. 1989. for economic reasons. and at the same time was compelled to reduce its military production by half a billion rubles. Since the Warsaw Pact had a decisive advantage in this region. Soviet decision which made it possible to take unilateral steps in arms reduction. suggested that the Soviet Union should offer to withdraw their air regiments stationed in Hungary. the Hungarian leadership decided to give up this idea. the Hungarian leadership indicated to the Soviets that they would gladly play an initiative and coordinating role in the arms reduction of the Warsaw Pact member states7* A month earlier. it was officially announced that Hungary’s 1989 military budget would be reduced by 17% in real terms as compared to the previous year. Gorbachev simply acknowledged his declaration that. the new leadership which rose to power in May. Although the Hungarians managed to win the Soviet . coincided with the July. but that. in Hungary considered the reduction of military spending to be the prime means of surviving the economic crisis. was only possible if Hungary were to be grouped into the Central European theatre.

which had been a major grievance for most of the population for the past four decades. Therefore. the differing interests of the other member states proved to be a significant factor producing uncertainty. The other important question was whether the MSZMP could capitalize upon this sufficiently in the course of the political transition.’~ Real negotiations finally took place when KBroly Gr6sz and Rezso Nyers visited Moscow at the end of July. the withdrawal of forces already underway might lead to the full withdrawal of the Soviet troopsg4 Further negotiations began between the two governments in August. The real question was whether the Hungarian leadership could end the Soviet occupation of the country. under the appropriate international conditions. according to the unilateral step mentioned above. at the next meeting of the WP PCB to be held in Bucharest. but the Soviets met the deadline.81 While the reduction of national military spending was motivated primarily by economic considerations. one year after the inauguration of its first freely elected government. as a result of which. an agreement was signed in Moscow on March loth. Moscow sent a signal in the middle of May. 1988. withdrawal had already taken place before. B&kks: Back to Europe 263 leadership’s support for their position. the call for the withdrawal of the Soviet troops stationed in Hungary mostly served a political cause. but it had not resulted in any significant change. 1990 on the withdrawal of Soviet troops by June 30th. and economic impact on Hungary. as early as August and September 1988.82 The need for a partial reduction had already been proposed by the Soviets also. when Gorbachev agreed to issue a memorandum stating that. 1989. in December. He “merely” requested that this be kept secret. As a result of the persistence demonstrated by Hungarian foreign policymakers. Hungarian foreign policy experts tried to convince their Soviet partners that the speedy withdrawal of Soviet troops would have a very positive political. moral. in 1958. Thus.000 Soviet troops together with their technical equipment had been withdrawn from Hungary. based on the 1988 Soviet announcement that the Soviet Union would withdraw all its forces from foreign soil by the year 2000. The process of the withdrawal was not free of dispute. visit to Moscow that the Hungarian government had decided to reduce its army by 3035% by 1995. 1991. since publicizing it would greatly weaken the position of the Warsaw Pact at the forthcoming negotiations on arrns reduction in Vienna. The issue was raised. it was announced that some 10. even in the spring of‘ 1989. Gorbachev would be ready to start negotiations with the Hungarian delegation on the complete withdrawal of Soviet tr00ps. and.” It was characteristic of Soviet behavior that Gorbachev reacted positively to Prime Minister Mikl6s NCmeth’s announcement during his March. that.Cs. Hungary regained its sovereignty in full. 1989.” . A similar. 1991. and the last Soviet soldier left the country on June 19th. who consistently attempted to strengthen elements of national sovereignty whilst at the same time adjusting their course of action according to Soviet interests. partial. as a result.

”” The Hungarian leadership firmly adhered to this position throughout the internal disputes concerning the transformation of the CMEA. and. the March 14th meeting of the Politburo of the MSZMP accepted a resolution which gave priority to opening the country up to the world economy and trade. The CMEA must adopt the principle that “the most important prerequisite for the transformation of socialist economic co-operation is the modernization of internal market forces building on the conditions of goods and finance. stating that Hungary was interested in developing cooperation within the CMEA inasmuch as it facilitated opening up the country to the world. this goal is not realistic at the moment. since very different views existed among the member states concerning the future of the organization. 4. [. The program [of socialist integration] is dead. the Hungarian economic transition was so far ahead of the others that a compromise would have seriously jeopardized the success of the Hungarian changes. In addition to the three reform countries. the Soviet leadership had a very critical opinion of the operation of the CMEA.87 One week later. endeavors and institutions over and above the participating nations must be rejected. As the Hungarian leadership was not willing to do so. the following principles were laid down by the Politburo: 1. . moreover. co-operation among member states must be built on bilateral and multilateral relations instead of seeking consensus. Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia both supported the transformation. 2. another basic principle was adopted regarding CMEA integration. at the January 9th. The development of economic integration is a task to be performed by the member states: Any ideas. if the CMEA were not capable of total transformation to its very foundations. By the beginning of 1989. within this framework. everybody wanted to accomplish the goal by a top-down process-using political rather than economic means. only primitive exchange. 1990. Gorbachev described the situation at the March 10th meeting of the Politburo of the CPSU as follows: In COMECON we almost have no trade. Sofia summit of the organization. but.. As for the concrete Hungarian position. Prime Minister Mikl6s Nkmeth made the Cassandra prophecy in the name of the-by then totally autonomous-Hungarian government that.86 Soviet reformers thought the resolution of the CMEA crisis should breath fresh life into the organization in such a way that it would also be capable of responding collectively to the challenges presented by the West European integration to be accomplished in 1992. therefore. This did not appear to be an easy task. apart from the Hungarian leadership. A unified socialist market is a reality only when the national markets are already established. 3. it was doomed to extinction.264 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis ofHimngarianDemocracy The Transformation of the CMEA As early as the spring of 1988.. and.I It has become excessively hard for us to conduct business as we have been doing for these last decades. The mechanism of co-operation within the CMEA must be transformed radically.

the Bundestag. according to the original idea. pioneering initiatives of Hungarian foreign policy. the Hungarian leadership elaborated a detailed analysis and plan concerning the necessary steps to be taken:’ and at the March 14th meeting of the MSZMP Politburo. diplomatic relations. the Soviets requested the Hungarian leadership to host a conference to be attended by European political parties and which. A precondition with South Korea was the deposit into the Hungarian National Bank of 1-1. would have paved the way for a “second Helsinki” conference proposed by the Soviet Union. Hungary entered into diplomatic relations with South Korea by exchanging anibassadors. The particularly close and fruitful relationship between the Hungarian and the West German leadership was a positive development with much promise and good prospects €or the future. and. to the efficient support of the Federal Republic of Germany.93In both cases. The conference. for what was at stake was no less than the question of whether it was possible to preserve the extraordinarily good situation acquired earlier in respect of Western relations. then Hungary too-like all the other nations of the Eastern bloc-would have to face the danger of separation from the Western world. With this knowledge. in a symbolic act unique in the Western world. most of all. Hungary received altogether DM 2bn credit in 1987-1988 to transform and modernize its economy. Both steps had been preceded by lengthy preparatory work.89Hungary was the first In the socialist camp to make an agreement concerning economic cooperation and to enter into diplomatic relations with the European Economic Community in 1988. which essentially marked the beginning of a shift in economic orientati~n. Bdkis: Back to Ertroye 265 Opening to the West and Joining the European Integration The likely integration of Western Europe expected by 1992 presented a serious challenge to Hungarian foreign policy also. especially the World Bank. as a result of which. which was meant to lessen the liquidity problems of the country. Based on the relations developed in the 1980s. If not.~* This opening up to the West was well served by two successfill.Cs. it was hoped that this “historic” act would exert a positive influence on US-Hungarian policy. in February. In July 1989. broken off in 1967. as a result. accepted a declaration endorsing the Hungarian democratic transition. It was viewed as a significant achievement that. priority was given to opening up to the world economy. the Hungarian leadership expected significant economic advantages €rom these unprecedented steps of great importance. entitled “Europe and the Future of European Co-operation . in the spring of 1988. and. upon Western financial circles. 1989. above all.5 billion US dollars. 1989. thanks to the persistent work of several years. in general. and.94In the case of Israel. Hungarian diplomacy also made intensive attempts to play a mediating role in promoting East-West rapprochement in 1988-1989. over the course of which Hungary gradually managed to win the approval of the Soviets. and. in September. were restored with Israel.” In the spirit of preparing for the situation after European integration. as early as January.

May 1-3. however. 1989. D. and was attended by 23 different parties. The outstanding significance of this conference was that. See: A Magym Szocialista Mnnkrispdrt Kozponti Bizottsdganak 1989. 1989. social-democrats. and on November 6th. “New Thinking and New Evidence.C. The sources which published the documents of the political transition are also significant for their examination of the international background of the Hungarian transition. Hungary was admitted as a member state. Georgia.” was held in Budapest on May 11th-l3th. he played an important role in facilitating an improvement in relations between Poland and the FRG at the request of Chancellor Helmut Kohl. after Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Gyula Horn-as the first representative of the Eastern blocparticipated and delivered a speech at the NATO General Assembly in Brussels in November.'^ The dialogue between East and West was further intensified by the Warsaw Pact’s adoption of the Hungarian proposal that the representatives of the above 35 states should hold regular summit meetings in the future. as Prime Minister. Thanks to the international research projcct founded in 1997 by the National Security Archive in Washington. [A Compendium of Declassified Documents Prepared for a] Critical Oral History Conference organized by the National Security Archive. Washington. representatives of every major political trend in the Parliaments of the states participating in the European Security and Cooperation process had a chance to exchange ideas and views in an informal manner: communists. especially that of Gorbachev and his immediate circle. the Hungarian leadership also undertook some rather confidential missions from time to time: Kiiroly Gr6sz not only lobbied Gorbachev on behalf of West German interests. significant results have recently been achieved in this field as well.. Following the free general elections in the spring.C. Notes 1 For obvious reasons. In addition. archival documents on the international conditions of the period are not yet available to the same extent as the sources of the Hungarian political transition. (Project on Openness in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union). for Hungary this represented the end to an era of four decades of exclusion. 1990. 1989. [The 1989 Minutes of the Central Commitlee of the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s ” . tvi jegyzokonyvei. Christian democrats and conservative^.96 Like the physical removal of the iron curtain. liberals. D. the Hungarian government submitted its application for membership to the Council. 1988. Thus.266 The Rotindtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Democracy f f on the Eve of the 1990s. and the Soviet Union-special status as an observer on June 8th. for the first time. In the spring of 1989 Hungary took steps to pave the way for establishing official relations between the Warsaw Pact and NATO. the Council recognized the democratic transition of historical importance in the country. 1989. see: The End of Cold Wur in Europe. there was both symbolic and political significance in the European Council giving Hungary-together with Yugoslavia. 1998. much has become known about the state of contemporary American policy and even more about the opinion of the Soviet leaders. centrists. Poland. Musgrove. in November. Symbolically speaking. but earlier. A few months later.

BPkkb: Back to Europe 267 Party. see: Jacques Ltvesque: The Enigma of 1989. Btla RCvtsz. Malcolm Byrne. which devotes Chapter 7 to the role of Soviet policy played in the Hungarian transition.e. document No 4. La fin d’un empire: L’URSS et la liberation de 1’Europe de I’Est.” it reduced its armed forces by 5% in 1986. Presses de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques. Dociiments fioiii tfie archives of die former CPSU and MSZAP. 5 Altogether. Uj Mandatum (Vols. The worsening of the political-economic situation in the Soviet Union by this time and. 1999. The Roundtable Tnlh in 19891. Anna Kosztricz. 1997. University of California Press.e. Kerekasztal-targvalhsok 1989-ben. Budapest.Karoly Gr6sz’s comment made at the July 12. f. as a result of this.C. 51103 1. 1-4) Budapest. 6. 1988 meeting of the MSZMP Politburo. MagvetG (Vols. 1956. 20OO. 2 Within the Warsaw Pact. Berkeley.) Csaba BCkCs. Zolthn Ripp (eds. The f USSR rind the Libernlion o Eastern Europe. are reflected by the fact that half a year earlier. Hungarian National Archives (hereafter HNA) 288. Melinda Kalmir. at the July 1988 Warsaw meeting of the WP PCB. 11/4453 0. HNA M-KS. in spite of a definite Soviet “request. Dokunieritumok (az egykori SZKP Ps MSZMP arckivumaibdl. the documents were collected and complied by: Magdolna Barath. the significantly more flexible attitude of the Soviet leadership. 1-2. 1999 (manuscript. A compendium of declassified documents. Janos Lakos. In: The End of the Cold War in Europe. among the sources used in my paper. Laszlo Sobs. (eds. For recently published Hungarian and Russian sources on Gorbachev’s policy towards Hungary see: Gorbacsov tdrgyaldsai magyar vezetokkel. 8 One proof of the survival of this imperial approach is the fact that although the ten year occupation of Afghanistan cost the Soviet Union 5 billion (!) US dollars per year.). Mikl6s Voros. . 10 Pravda. and the Cold War History Research Centre (Budapest)compiled a collection of documents in English and Hungarian. HNA MKS-233. 1988.). 9 Karoly Gr6sz’s comment made at the July 12. Eva Standeisky.e. 5/103 1 O.) 1956-0s IntCzet. Paris.000 Soviet troops from these three countries. 1993. Minister of Defense. Zoltin Ripp.288. f. Gyorgy T. its organizers-the National Security Archives (Washington D. Budapest. he planned to withdraw some 50. Malcolm Byrne. 2000. and. Rainer (eds.). Karola Vigyi NtmethnC. f. Erzstbet Ripp. For the English edition. A conference was held in Budapest in June 1999 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Hungarian political transition. even after withdrawal. mention must be made of Jacques Levesque’s book. 41246.000 troops and their armament. Mirta Elbert. 1988 meeting of the MSZMP Central Committee. Csaba Btkts. for the sake of maintaining Soviet influence. Melinda Kalmir.e. at the November 22. only Romania had (for years) urged unilateral steps by the member states. the 1956 Institute. 6 Comment by Kkoly Grosz at the July 22. Rainer. London. 6. 1-9. see: Rendszendtozus Mugyarorszagon 1989-1990/Political Transition in Hungary 1989-1 990. f 511031 O. 1988 meeting of the MSZMP Politburo. 1995. 7 Notes taken by Anatoli Chernayev at the meeting of the CPSU CC on March 10. October 3 1. July 18. 1988 meeting of the MSZMP CC.288. A rendszervdlths forgatbkonyve. Budapest. Gorbachev had maintained that the total Soviet reduction could concern only some 70. HNA MKS-233.Cs. (eds. [The Script of the Regime Change. Zoltin Ripp. Mikl6s Vbros (eds. MSZMP] Vols. Btla RCvCsz. Budapest. Central European University Press (forthcoming). to be published by Uj Mandatum publisher in Budapest). Vols. All the following quotations are taken from this edition. Janos M. HNA M-KS. Melinda Kalmar. Jacques LCvesque: 1989. 5-8) Budapest.) Hungarian National Archives. 1988..e. 1955-1990] Magdolna Barath. Los Angeles. Andras Bozbki. For a recent English translation of the declaration see: The 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Varga. Csaba BekCs. the leadership reckoned on an annual cost of 3 billion. 3 Report to the Politburo and the Council of Ministers on the Warsaw meeting of the Political Consultative Body of the Warsaw Pact Member States.-No one has yet produced a synthesis of the international context of the Hungarian transition. Janos M. 1985-1990 [Gorbachev’s talks with Hungarian leaders. Gusztav KecskCs. 4 Comment made by Ferenc Kirpati. f. 1989.

Kh. HNA MKS-233. the 1956 Institute. translated and annotated by Mark Kramer. 17 One rather characteristic example of this attitude is that at the June 14. Social Pressure and the Fall of the Communist System in Poland (1986-1989).e. Yearbook V. 1989). 12 For Soviet policy concerning the 1956 Hungarian revolution. 1989. Dokumenty. WO31 o. It is merely history’s irony that Stalin himself never had to resort to it. 1999. op. which they have presented at a number of conferences. J Skorzynski: Solidarnosc on the Way to the Roundtable. 13 From all this. 1986 meeting of the MSZMP Politburo. document No. 15 Karoly Gr6sz’s comment made at the July 12. University Press. 18 Report for the members of the Politburo on the visit of Karoly Grbsz to the Soviet Union on March 23-24. Sahnazarov’s preparatory minutes for Gorbachev for the October 6. Political Strategy of the Opposition 1985-1989. 14 Jacques Levesque. 1996-Spring. The National Security Archive. Gorbachev explicitly emphasised the need to abandon the policy of “guardianship. only later to maintain that only a new model of socialism would satisfjr the interests of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe. 03. 201-213.). 1956. 1989.. HNA M-KS-288-5/983 6. The National Security Archive. see: D6ntk. Institut Studibw Politycznych Polskej Akademii Nauk. Anatoli Chernayev and Georgi Shahnazarov have been the primary proponents of this thesis. Kh. this thesis is nothing but an organic part of the Stalinist tradition. the Soviet leader stated that the Brezhnev doctrine was no longer in force. the George Washington University.s a Kremlben. Dttente and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution]. Moscow: 1993. 1999. 1996. 1996-1997. 22 According to polls. Issue 8-9. Antoni Duduek: Decisive Months (Poland. For the Soviet Union’s policy in Eastern Europe. op. 1989. Leszek Gilejko: Party Elites in the Epilogue Period. 1988 meeting of the CPSU Politburo. 23 A rendszeivtilirisforgaidkonpe. 368-369. including the May 1998 Musgrove conference cited in note 1. enyhulis 6s az 1956-0s magyar forradalom [Cold War. 1989. see also: Charles Gati: The Bfoc that Failed. In: The End of Cold War in Europe. 76-77. document No. Poland 19861989: The End of the System [A Compendium of Declassified Documents and Chronology of Events]. 6. In: Political Transition in Hungary. Budapest. 25 G. Vyacheslav Sereda (eds. see the publications and lectures of the conference held between October 20-24 in Warsaw-Miedszyn under the title “Poland 1986-1989: The End of the System”: Polska 1986-1989: Koniec Systemy. Csaba BtkCs: Hideghabor6. the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Rainer. 1956. cit. 20 On the Polish transition. Jhnos M. document No. the 1956 Institute. In reality. Institute of Political Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences. [Decision in the Kremlin. the George Washington University. Andrzej Friszke: The Origin and the Course of the Roundtable. In: G.”-Comment by JBnos Kadar at the November 18. April-August. cit. 1997. 1956. 24 Ibid. pp. pp. 80-81. 13 Over the past few years. 1988 meeting of the MSZMP Politburo. CWIHP BulIetin. Indiana Bloomington and Indianapolis. Budapest. Vol. The Cold War International History Project. A szovjet pdrtehokskg vitdi 2clagyarorszrigrdf. 385410. 1989-1990. we can gather that the doctrine linked to the name of Brezhnev after the 1968 intervention in Czechoslovakia might just as well be called the Khrushchev doctrine. 21 The documents of the committee are published In: A rendszervaltas forgatbkonyve. The English language manuscripts of the six main conference lectures can be found in the 1956 Institute library in Budapest: Edmund WnukLipinski: Public Feelings in the Years 1986-1 989. in the summer of 1989 the MSZMP had reason to expect to win 36-40% of the votes. after the crackdown on the 1956 revolution in Hungary. Vol. Winter. f. pp. pp. The debates of the Soviet Party Leadership on Hungary]. The “Malin notes” on the Crises in Hungary and Poland. Piotr Marciniak: Spiral Movement Towards Democracy. pp. 1997. 6.268 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungcrrian Democracy 11 At the November 1986 Moscow communist summit meeting. 16..e 16 Jacques Levesque. talks between Gorbachev and Helmut Kohl. published . 42. Sahnazarov: Tsena svobodi.

36 On the MSZMP’s policy concerning the transition. Quoted in Jacques Levesque op. December 2 and 3.. cit. see: Rudolf TokCs: Hungaiy ’s Negotiated Revolution. George Bush. op. 29 In the DIR report. 1293. 1 1 . 3. Brent Scowcroft: A World Transformed. (Levesque. Beschloss. tvi jegyzokonyvei. document No. 91. and that. 32 The Bogomolov Institute report regarded only Romania’s withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact as tenable. 4. Bkkks: Back to Europe 269 in English In: The End of Cold War in Europe. 38 Report on President Bush’s visit to Hungary. Vol. 1993. 1989. see: M. Talbott: At the Highest Levels. 69. Brown. 1989.. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 69. 35 Ibid. 108-109.R. London. In: The End of Cold War in Europe.. document No. New York. p. 34 Ibid. The Bogomolov Institute report argues quite openly that this direction of development would be explicitly advantageous for the Soviet Union. A similar proposal is contained in the Foreign Ministry report. ibid. An Insider’s Account of US Policy in Europe. and Czechoslovakia). 26 Ibid. . documents No.. 1294-129s. Jacques Levesque analyzes all three reports in detail. cit. Alfred A. 109. 107-109. this scenario is ranked as the second most desirable. pp. 1989. 1996. 37 On US policy concerning Eastern Europe. July 15. Maintaining the old system. S. therefore. documents No. The Woodrow Wilson Centre Press. cit. 1989-1992. Robert L. 86. cit. kvi jegyzokonyvei. “in its geopolitical position. document No. Hungary. 93109. 2.. 41 Report by Rezso Nyers at the July 28 Meeting of the MSZMP CC. (Levesque. op. 2. 138. op. Economic Reform. Vol. Boston.C. 33 Recorded by Anatoli Chernayev at the January 21. cit.) 30 In the DIR report. the erosion of socialism in the region should not be allowed.. document No. 28 In Chapter 5 of his book. 1956-1990. 2. 81. 1989. 39 M. as it would not be a great loss for the Soviet Union and. p. 1998. Little. The report by the Foreign Ministry is reviewed in: Jacques Levesque. 27 The reports by the CPSU CC Department of International Relations (DIR) and the Bogomolov Institute are published in: The End o Cold War in Eiwope. Baltimore. Document No. The four scenarios are as follows: 1.” The report also suggests that a sense of “vagueness” should be maintained concerning Soviet intentions. Hutchings: American Diplomacy and the End of the Cold War. cif. report by Rezso Nyers at the July 28 Meeting of the MSZMP CC. 24. p. pp. cited by Levesque: op. On the US position concerning the Hungarian political transition. Washington D. 13. Total collapse and chaos.. the thus isolated Romania will have to consider our interests. a new model of socialism (in the form of “presidential socialism” in the cases of Poland. 1997. In: Political Transition in Hungaiy 1959-1990..) 31 The possibility of Finlandisation is discussed implicitly in the DIR report and explicitly in the Bogomolov Institute report. 9 and No.” In: The End of Cold War in Eiirope. Beschloss.. Paper presented at the international conference “Political Transition in Hungary 1989-1990” (manuscript). document No. Social Change and Political Succession. 1989-1990. document No. 40 Records made by Anatoli Chernayev on the summit in Malta. S. Knopf. 1989. see: Lhszl6 Borhi: The United States and the Hungarian transition. op. a Soviet military intervention would only be justified if “an external military force interfered directly and openly with the domestic affairs and events of a socialist country. cit. 1989. in the words of the memorandum. It was only the Foreign Ministry’s report which maintained that giving up power would result in serious consequences.. 24. f and reprinted in: The Polilical Transition in Hungaiy. Melinda KalmAr: Chapter In: this volume. Talbott op.R. pp.. 1989 meeting of the CPSU Politburo.Cs. Peaceful restoration of civil democracy. Magyar Szociulista Munkaspirt Kozponti Bizottshgcinak 1989. 23 and No. In: A. 20. 35. In: A Magyar Szocialista Mimkcispcirt Kozponti Bizottscigcinak 1989. p. Cambridge University Press.

1989. HNA M-KS-288. op. 1989. 51 We now know that. document No. Eventually. kvi jegyz6kon-yvei. 362. f. (In this way. The same was confirmed by French f President Francois Mitterand during his conversation with Gorbachev on July 4. on June 12. August 30. Nothing of their discussion however. Istvbn NCmeth: E s a falak leomlanuk. Many other documents confirm that this was not merely intended to reassure Gorbachev. 46 In 1998. Magveto Publishers. the contract was made and diplomatic relations between Hungary and the EEC were established. See: Gorbucsov tbrgyalcisai rnugyur vezetokkel.e. p. document No. 1999. ibid. 1988 meeting of the MSZMP Politburo. pp. Proposal submitted to the Political Executive Committee of the MSZMP [Western views on the policy of the MSZMP]. the Report to the Politburo and the Council of Ministers on the Warsaw session of the Political Consultative Body of the member states of the Warsaw Pact. 55 Document of the meeting of the International. document No. 58 Not much earlier.. S O Ibid. 130. p. whilst assumptions that his task was to convince the ageing Hungarian leader to leave may prove to be true eventually. 1989. -62/5 6. Gorbachev stressed that “you must negotiate. 104. 47 Khroly Gr6sz’s comment made at the July 12. 33. 56 Reply given by Imre Pozsgay and Rezso Nyers to a question posed by the present author at the international conference “Political Transition in Hungary 1989-1 990.) Kiroly Gr6sz’s comment at the July 12. a research project was initiated to investigate the international background of the Hungarian transition. 43 Margaret Thatcher’s talks with Mikhail Gorbachev on April 6. Krjuchkov to Budapest to meet Kbdbr. 54 Gyula Horn’s comment at the meeting of the MSZMP Central Committee. p. See e.. [And the Walls Come Down. 43. Chancellor of the FRG. p. Legal and Public Administration Committee of the CC of MSZMP held on July 9. has become public to date. HNA MKS-233.270 The Rotindtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Himngarian Democracy f f 42 Private talk between Gorbachev and Helmut Kohl. on July 14. in March 1989. Vol. 45 Istvin Horvath.g. 40. 1989. 1989. f. Kkoly Gr6sz could have avoided negotiating personally with Ceaucescu. July 18. during the visit of the Hungarian leaders to Moscow on July 24-25. 52 Levesque.g. This project was supported by the Hungarian Program of the Project on Openness in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. 1989 in Pans. 49 Although the Hungarian leadership had already made it clear that they were ready to negotiate with Romania.” In: A Mugym Szocialista Mtmkasphrt Kozponti Bizottsdgdnuk 1989.e. 173-176. 48 See e. . 1988 meeting of the MSZMP Politburo. p. in 1988. A.. 1988 Gorbachev sent KGB head V. So. In: A Mugyar Szociulista MztnkbspcirtKozponti Bizottsaghnak 1989. Magyarorszcig b a nkmet egyskg (19451990). document No. HNA M-KS288 f. Vol.. In: Political transition in Hungary 1989-1 990.” 57 According to the report given by Rezs6 Nyers to the MSZMP CC on July 28. In: The End o Cold War in Europe. ibid. 1174. HNA M-KS-233. 1. ibid. 1989. 1298. Chancellor of the FRG. by July 1988 they declared that only a meeting between the Prime Ministers would be possible. cit. 1989. 25. 2. document 42. 5/1031 6. given that Gr6sz held the positions of both party first secretary and Prime Minister at that time. 5/103 1 0. 1114453. July 23-24. while Magdolna BarPth also worked in the Gorbachev Archives in Moscow. 1989. 2 .. 44 Private talk between Milchail Gorbachev and Helmut Kohl. Magdolna Barath and Guszthv Kecskts conducted work in the Hungarian archives. tvi jegyzokonyvei. 1988. f.e. before the MSZMP national party conference in May. 1989. evidence for this can be produced only by the further opening of Russian archives. Vol.e. ibid. 53 Gyula Horn’s comment at the meeting of the HSWP CC on February 21. 1989. Hungary and German Unity (1945-1990)]. Budapest. In addition to the present author. 0. Hungarian diplomacy officially supported the resolution of the Human Rights Committee of the UN-accepted at the initiative of Western countries-which ordered the investigation of human rights in Romania.

16. starting in the summer of 1988. 66 Current questions related to the development of the Warsaw Pact (joint proposal of the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Defense). cf. Instead. some 60. 0. 1. In reality.000 GDR citizens left for the West through Hungary. 72 Report to the Politburo on Karoly Gr6sz’s negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev. 71 Comment by Gyula Horn at the meeting of the MSZMP Central Committee on February 20-21. 1988.e. p. 63 Before the fall of the Berlin Wall (November 9th. following the resolution of the May 19th meeting of the MSZMP Politburo. 1989 meeting of the International. 64 The two German records made of the meeting can be found in: Political Transition in Hungay 1959-1990. p. h i jegyzb’konyvei. 363.e. July 8. the MSZMP Politburo decided to remove the technical closing system on the Hungarian-Austrian and Hungarian-Yugoslavian borders by 1991. 2. 73 Information issued for internal use by the Department of International Relations of the MSZMP Central Committee. 74 In addition. 1989).Vol. several Hungarian initiatives were proposed by the foreign ministry and the ministry of defence in the spring of 1989: 1. 6. 1989. 2. 99 and 100. Btkkb: Back to Europe 271 59 Report given by Rezso Nyers to the MSZMP CC on July 28. March 6. memorandum. it was also urged by the Ministry of the Interior. Kritika. 1989. 6 1 Memorandum for the Presidency of the MSZMP [Czechoslovakian objections concerning Imre Szokai’s interview]. In: Political Transition in Hungary 1989-1990. Istvin Horvith. 69 Mikl6s Szab6: “From Big Elephant to Paper Tiger: Soviet-Hungarian Relations. In: A Magyar Szocialista Munkhspart K6zponfi Bizottsagdnak 1989. 70 Cf. [Which way to go? Our foreign policy in the changing world. 75 Minutes of the meeting of the May 16. tvijegyzb’konyvei.] Paper presented at the international conference “The political transition in Hungary 1989-1 990.v 1989-1 990.: “Merre tartsunk? Kiilpolitikcinka viltoz6 viligban. HNA MKS-288 f. 362. 1989.e. HNA M-KS-2885/1065. 395-41 1. Finally. N. document No. The Soviet WP communication officers stationed in each of the member states must be withdrawn. document Nos. document No. distributed by the Columbia University Press. pp. Boulder: Social Science Monographs. 67 Proposals of the Romanian Communist Party on the improvement and democratization of the activities of the Warsaw Pact bodies. Inc. 6 8 Ibid. 1989. cit. The passage enforcing the Brezhnev doctrine must be removed from the text of the peace and war resolution of the Unified Armed Forces of the WP.. ibid. Legal and Public Administration Committee of the MSZMP CC. 12. the permanent delegates of the member states staying in Moscow must be given more responsibility in matters of coordination. Istviin Nimeth. 6. 1988-1991” In: BCla Kirily (ed.. 373. 329-332. The Military Council must be dissolved. 1995. In: A Magyar Szocialista Munkaspart Kozponti Bizottshgcinak 1989.-6213. the removal of the technical closing system was proposed. August 14.).” (manuscript).Cs.. In: Political Transition in Hin7gar. Therefore. 1989 meeting of the MSZMP Politburo. ibid.. on February 28th. the work was completed in the summer of 1989. J: Atlantic Research and Publications.: Istvhn Horvith. Document of the March 13. 3. a so-called world passport was introduced which allowed any Hungarian citizen to travel freely to any country of the world any number of times. See also: Gorbacsov tiugyalisai magyar vezetokkel.. 65 Ibid. July 12. . 92. document No. ibid. Roundtable talk]. the sealing of the borders lost its significance. 1300. [Viewed from the “top”: The Soviet Union and the Hungarian transition. Barith: “A “csbcsr6l” szemlilve: a Szovjetunib Ps a magyarorszhgi itmenet.): Lawful Revolution in Hiingary 1989-1994. 80. p. and. op. as early as the summer of 1987. 1989. see: Magdolna. at the proposal of the Minister of the Interior. HNA M-KS-288-1114508. 62 Since. 60 Talks between Rezso Nyers and Milos Yakesh at the Bucharest meeting of the PCB of the WP. 76 On the highest-level Soviet-Hungarian relations.” Kerekasztal-beszClgetts. Highland Lakes. 1989. No. Vol. Andrhs Boz6ki (associate ed.

Document of the March 13. In: Political Transition in Hungary 1989-1990. p. 1989. 6. . cit. O. 92 Proposal submitted to the MSZMP CC on the political strategy concerning European political and economic development and the issues of integration. 87 Minutes of the March 14. 4.e. Gorbachev was still stressing to Khroly Gr6sz that as far as the relations with Israel were concerned.-5AO59. 85 On the process of pulling out the troops and the Hungarian-Soviet disputes over the withdrawal. 5/1051. 1988 meeting of the Politburo. 5/1031. 91 Ibid. f. 81 Records of the negotiations between Mikl6s Ntmeth and Mikhail Gorbachev.0. 1992. document No. MOL M-KS-288-5/1065. f. 5/1031. 1992. 78 Magdolna Barhth.e. pp.. HNA M-KS-288 f. 0.e.. document No. March 10.e. March 3. f.) Magvarorszcjg politikai dvkonyve.e. HNA M-KS-288. 1989 meeting of the MSZMP Politburo. In: The f End o Cold War in Eiwope.e. 84. 1989 meeting of the MSZMP Politburo. [Soviet withdrawals of troops-the history of the military independence of Hungary-the Yugoslavian conflict].. 1989 meeting of the International. 1988 meeting of the MSZMP Politburo. HNA MKS-288. (eds. Istvim NCmeth. 22. 1989 meeting of the MSZMP Politburo. In: Political Transition in Hungary 1989-1990. 5/1051. 1989. 1989. op. 4. 1989 meeting of the MSZMP Politburo. see: Istviin Horvith. 94 Even in July 1988. July 30. advisor of the secretary general of MSZMP. 45. cit. HNA M-KS-288. 82 M. e. HNA MKS-288. In: Political Transition in Himngary 1989-1990. 86 Notes by Anatoli Chernayev on the meeting of the Politburo of CPSU. document No. 90 On the role of the FRG in supporting the Hungarian transition. HNA M-KS-288 f. Memorandum by Istvan Foldesi. 4. f. 96 Report to the Politburo. Report to the Political Executive Committee of MSZMP. e. 80 The security situation of the Hungarian People’s Republic and some military objectives. 84 RezsB Nyers and Kiroly Gr6sz’s negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev.-G2/3.6. HNA M-KS-288 f.. op. 4/242.9. March 7. 88 Minutes of the March 12.6. 1988 meeting of the MSZMP CC. e. January 1989.e. see: Keleti Gyorgy: Szovjet csapatkivonasok-Magyarorszhg katonai figgetlensdgdnek tortdnete-a jugoszlaviai konfliktus.272 The Roirndtable Tallis o 1989: The Genesis o Hungarian Deniocracy f f 77 Khroly Grosz’s comment made at the September 27. cit. 95 Ibid. “the clocks” must be synchronized. 1989. In: Sandor Kurtiin et al. Legal. 93 Minutes of the March 14. 1988 meeting of the MSZMP Politburo. May 15. f. Barath. op. chapters 8. 83 Minutes of the May 16. document No. whereas in the case of South Korea he particularly warned against establishing diplomatic relations at the level of embassies-Karoly Grosz’s comment at the July 12. 1988.0.0. Moscow. p. [The Political Yearbook of Hungary] Budapest: DKMKA. /5 1031. 0. 336-342. pp. and Public Administration Committee ofthe MSZMP CC.-5/1057. HNA M-KS-288. and 10. 97 Karoly Gr6sz’s comment made at the July 12. 381-409. HNA M-KS-288 f.o. 79 Kkoly Gr6sz’s comment made at the July 12.


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and April. They include simply the agenda of the meeting. However. although. 1989. After a few meetings. 1990. The second set of negotiations was. 1989. There were two sets of negotiations in Hungary in 1989. however. etc. Those volumes will serve as a rich source for historians and political scientists. would record the talks on video for documentary purposes. the MSZMP). in this book. agreements. and the organisations of the Third Side. and the Third Side. onwards. The negotiations went ahead on three levels and have been recorded in different ways. are much brief. the Opposition Roundtable.’ That collection includes the minutes of the negotiations of the Opposition Roundtable (Ellenzkki Kerekasztal. 1989. audio recordings were also made. the full documentary history of the Hungarian Roundtable Talks of 1989 was published in 8 volumes in Hungarian. all of which made possible an almost total reconstruction of the proceedings. At the outset the participants simply delivered somewhat short summaries derived from the meetings of the Opposition Roundtable. These original decisions fundamentally shaped the behavior of the Opposition Roundtable during the trilateral negotiations of the National Roundtable Talks. which were held with the (communist) Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party (Magyar Szocialista Munkcispcirt. Full written minutes were taken of the plenary sessions and also of the intermediate-level sessions of the political coordinating committee and of the economic and social committee. the .* Between August. and other related key documents (manifestos. the minutes of the trilateral National Roundtable Talks. Those talks took place from June. translated into English. 1989.Introduction to the Documents Andrds Bozo’ki and Zoltdn Ripp In 1999-2000. The minutes of the “lower level” working committees. trilateral. beginning in late April 1989. as we mentioned above. it was agreed that a team from Fekete Doboz [Black Box]. however. an independent video journal. of which the first was the negotiations among the eight (later nine) political organizations comprising the Opposition Roundtable. and so we thought it useful to include some of the most important documents.). with the participation of the MSZMP. EKA). These parties created the formal procedures to achieve the unity of the EKA and also a common concept of strategy for democratic transition. The most substantial part of the National Roundtable Talks was the period between June 13th and September 18th. in some working committees the negotiating partners continued their talks until December. the documents were published in Hungarian. the participants.

which had been regarded by the EKA as unacceptable. 1989. That agreement focused on substantive issues of the future negotiations and did not clariQ the structure and other practical details of the negotiating process itself.and audio-recordings. whose analyses are based on those original documents. The eight volumes. The fourth document contains the minutes of . during the preparatory talks between the EKA and the MSZMP-and during internal discussions-the negotiating parties crystallized their different political stances. three days later. written on April 19th. FJF). signed on June loth. we could not aim to reconstruct that richness and complexity by means of selected documents. What we could do was to document the key events of Hungary’s covenanted. and. Those sessions served as a forum for the negotiating parties to declare their positions on major issues. The publication of some parts of the minutes would have provided a sense of the atmosphere of the talks. and the (largely incomplete) agreements actually achieved. and to accept the agreements reached by the intermediate-level sessions. therefore. there were three plenary sessions. In this book. and the outcome of the negotiations. Between April 22nd and June Bth. included the minutes of all meetings of the Opposition Roundtable and of the National Roundtable. The second document is the declaration of the EKA. the agreement of September 18th. succeeded in achieving a compromise between their opposing political positions. after long deliberations. This Manifesto was instrumental in the formation of the Opposition Roundtable one week later. on April 22nd. The third document published in this volume is a basic agreement between the MSZMP. 1989. the negotiating positions of the parties. As a consequence of this declaration. 1989. The first is the Manifesto of the Independent Lawyers’ Forum (FuggetZenJoghsz Fdrum. This crystallized the opposition viewpoint concerning negotiations as against the previous offer by the MSZMP. The documents are published in chronological order. From the preparatory period we have chosen to publish two key documents. but those details would have been an inadequate guide for all of those interested in the key processes of the transition to democracy in Hungary. This can be better studied from chapters written by experts in the field. and the text of that agreement is published in the fifth document. based on written sources and on video. written on March 15th. negotiated revolution: the political initiatives. published in Hungarian. the EKA and the Third Side. which asked the independent political organizations to start negotiations with each other on the most crucial issues of the transition to democracy. to take decisions. on March 22nd. representatives of the MSZMP and of the EKA started preparatory talks on future negotiations. 1989 to the Central Conmittee of the MSZMP. acquire a full and accurate picture of the details of that complex negotiating process after reading thousands of pages. During the National Roundtable Talks. on their willingness to negotiate the fundamental issues of the transition.276 The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis o Himngarian Democracy f positions of the negotiating parties. The latter was agreed by the parties on June 21st 1989. namely. Students of 1989 could. 1989.

Between June 13th and September 18th. Vols. in this meeting. paradoxically. as the seventh document. since on some questions-primarily. 1989.Introduction to the Documents 277 the June 13th opening plenary sessions in which the various delegations accepted an agreement and publicly stated their initial standpoints for the negotiations. The sixth document shows the minutes of the June 21st plenary sessions where the delegates agreed on the thematics and structure of the talks and also stated their views on agenda-setting issues. At the same time the 6 political working committee of the National Roundtable talks held about one hundred meetings. Marta Elbert. Budapest: Uj Manditum. However. BCla Rtvtsz. kotet [The Script of the Regime Change: Roundtable Talks in 1989. Mirta Elbert. Melinda Kalmar. 1999. Due to the September 18th agreement of the National Roundtable Talks-and also to the results of the so-called “Four Yes” referendum3 held on November 26th. By accepting them. This final plenary sessions was planned as an expressive public act of the acceptance of the crucial legal and political changes proposed by the negotiating partners. Vols. . Gyorgy Durst. M6nika MCcs and LBszl6 Pesty. broadcast live on Hungarian television. This agreement made it possible to bring the crucial. whilst the intermediate-level political co-ordinating committee of the National Roundtable completed 13 rounds of negotiations. 1989-the legal framework of the multiparty parliamentary democracy was established and free and fair elections-the first for 45 years-could be held. In this book. the minutes of the September 18th (closing) plenary sessions of the National Roundtable Talks.1. All of the documents are published with editorial notes which aim to put the events into context. Istvan JBvor. However. Andras DCr. 1-8. who recorded the talks. 5-8. 3 On the questions and results of the November referendum see the chapter by Adim Masit in this book. were Csaba Bitonyi. obviously. a dramatic turn of events occurred.): A rendszervciltcis forgcrtdkri’nyve: Keraknsztnl-trirgvalasok 1989-ben. we do publish. 1-8. 2 Those collaborators of Fekete Doboz. on that of the election of the President of the Republic-they disagreed with the compromise written in the text of the agreement. we cannot publish all of those minutes since they occupy some thousand pages. Budapest: Magveto. Vols. this last Parliament of the dictatorship set up the constitutional framework of the new democracy and of the rule of law. ErzsCbet Ripp & Zoltan Ripp (eds. It became clear that some of the organizations of the Opposition Roundtable would refuse to sign the agreement. The text of the September 18th agreement is presented as the eighth document in this book. Notes 1 Andras Bozbki. the Opposition Roundtable held 26 meetings. 1999-2000. Further information can be obtained from the detailed chronology of the talks and from the bibliographies of the key participants. constitutional laws to Parliament one month later. 1 4 ..

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It is hard to admit this. as a natural reflex of national self-defense. In the current situation. that the great historical experiment which was started in 1917 in the name of ‘building socialism’ has collapsed under the weight of the global industrial revolution which unfolded during the last few decades of the 20th century. society must be consulted regarding the ‘Lnew rules of the game” from the very beginning. the political change will happen sooner or later. Yet. any chance for these countries to catch up is conditional on their ability to transform fundamentally their entire social. and all political forces claiming to have a sense of responsibility for their actions. it must be said. Therefore. the Hungarian people will accept that fact only if they can influence the terms of the . on the contrary. therefore. the first step in change is to transform the political structure. signals the hopelessness of the enterprise itself. comprehensive change has become a prerequisite of the survival of the nation as such. At the same time. as long as there exists even the remotest chance of doing so. all rational people. which acts as a yoke on society and the economy alike. and so it is not possible to attempt to make any agreement about the terms of such a transformation in the form of compromises over the heads of the nation. there is no time to lose. The fact that all countries concerned had seriously fallen behind the most advanced countries of the world. and with or without force. for the sake of the future of the nation. rather than the inconipetence of a given political nomenclature. knowing their own past. One thing is certain: in one way or another. but living standards will start to improve only after political change takes place and as an indirect consequence of the change.1989 (COMMUNIQUE) Proclamation of the Independent Lawyers’ Forum to Independent Political Organizations in Hungary’ I However “tragic” it is for the nations concerned. and. however difficult it is to ‘admit to our past’. It is important that it be clearly understood that there can be no economic growth without the transformation of the political regime. comprehensive transformation will be carried out by the Hungarian nation itself.1 Proclamation of the Independent Lawyers’ Forum to the Organizations of the Opposition March 15. and however painful it is for many decent individuals. therefore. economic and political organization. As the rift between Hungary and the advanced countries is growing by the minute. must try to make this (inevitable) change a peaceful one.

11 1 The question is. in the current situation.280 The Roimdtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis o Hiriigarian Democracy f f change. to exercise permanent pressure on the institutions of political power in order to guarantee the effective involvement of society in decisionmaking and to take transformation to a consistent and successful conclusion. itself based on an awareness of their inevitable sharing of conitnon interests.They must continuously consult their counterparts concerning all crucial issues. In view of their consciously chosen solidarity. and. 5. This is both a necessity and a moral obligation on their part. even if they also criticized certain ‘distortions’ of the model. as a part of that. 6. IJntil a stronger society effectively takes control over its own life.g. such as conflicts arising from personal rivalry. based on the assumption that. which could reduce the credibility of the organization itself. directly or vis-bvis a credible institutional framework. It is a strange situation that a ruling political regime should be expected to create-via its institutions-the very laws responsible for dismantling its own political superstructure. . the situation has changed. 4. Our hope is confirmed by the fact that. primarily concerning Electoral Law and the Constitution of the Republic of Hungary. They must refrain from any political action (e. They must do everything in their power to speed up the voluntary process of building social institutions. They must overcome the inevitable ‘childhood diseases’ of the early stages of a voluntary organization. they must prevent any overt or covert attempt by political power-holders to divide them. In the opinion of the Independent Lawyers’ Forum. today’s Hungarian crises are characterized by a lack of faith even on the part of the political power-holders themselves in the viability of the existing political regime. making unilateral concessions and engaging in spurious talks). However. The talks should be aimed at formulating a common position on fundamental issues demanding an urgent answer. agreed in advance. 2. prematurely going into coalition with existing power-holders. this can be done only if the first step to be taken is the replacement of the current Parliament with a democratically elected representative body. During these 70 years. to disseminate its program as widely as possible and to widen its social base. 3. they must take concerted action. talks in which they should be driven by a sense of having been given a historical mission to promote these objectives. independent institutions inevitably share common interests. and create inner coherence within such organizations through compromises of principle resting on a fundamental agreement about basic theoretical principles. The Independent Lawyers’ Forum’s recommendation to independent political organizations and parties in Hungary is to start talks via their competent political leaders without delay. One question cannot be avoided: Is there any hope that a change so essential for the survival of the nation will be peaceful? We believe that the answer is “Yes”. a group of political powerholders-who had taken over the Communist Party after a series of political crisesnever ceased to emphasize the infallibility of the political course of ‘building socialism’ as chosen by the Party. to create a distinctive image for their own organization or political party. in contrast with the 70-year long history of socialism. therefore: What can independent social and political organizations and political parties do to promote peaceful change? 1.

The SZDSZ was itself about to issue an open letter suggesting the setting up of a roundtable of independent organizations. no. The document was officially adopted by the Electoral Plenum of FJF on March 17th. on March 22nd. March 15. Otlet Kft.: Budapest 3 1).: Gjtizelemre sziiletfiink. Psoclamation ofthe Independent Lawyers’ Forirm to the Organizations of ihe Opposition 28 1 The Independent Lawyers’ Forum is ready and willing to co-ordinate these talks and to make every effort to reconcile positions and to elaborate the professional aspects of agreed positions as an independent and objective organization. The March 20th issue of Magynr Hishp was the first Hungarian national daily to publish a brief report on the FJF’s Proclamation. This is when it was agreed to convene a meeting of the 8 organizations. a date repeated by two other publications (Honpolprir.Portsbvdzlrtok. The 8 invitees included: the Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Endre Friendship Society. and “Ellenzkki Kei-ekusztal ... after having learnt of the Proclamation of the Independent Lawyers’ Forum. was dated March l5th. (In Andris Bilint B.1. as suggested by JAnos Kis. the Hungarian People’s Party. the Hungarian Democratic Forum. the Independent Smallholders’ Party. ” Edited and interviews by Anna Richter. 1989. (1990): 287-289). the Federation of Young Democrats. 1989 Note 1 This Proclamation was read out for the first time at the Congress of the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) on March 19. The document. the Free Democrats withdrew their own proposal. the Democratic League of Independent Trade Unions and the Social Democratic Party of Hungary. the Alliance of Free Democrats. on the eve of the highly successful March 15th demonstration jointly organized by the organizations of the opposition. 2 (1989): 4-6. The document was signed by the Electoral Plenum of the Independent Lawyers’ Forum (FJF). March 2 1. The Proclamation was first published without date or signature. Budapest. which the FJF deemed to be the most important. 1989 Electoral Plenum of the Independent Lawyers’ Forum Source: n/lagw Nenzzet. which was read out at the SZDSZ Congress. It was written by Inlre K6nya in a single evening. but. .

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as a prerequisite of the talks. 1989 (LETTER AND COMMUNIQUE) Proposal of the Opposition Roundtable to the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party Concerning the Roundtable Talks In line with its commitment. Given the crises currently threatening to push Hungary to the brink of catastrophe. naiiiely the country’s democratic transformation. Time is running out. In order to create an atmosphere of trust between the negotiating partners. the obvious failure of the government to control the situation and the danger of restoration by force. therefore. the Opposition Roundtable urges the MSZMP to start talks as soon as possible. the Hungarian People’s Party. and we feel. the Federation of Young Democrats.2 Proposal of the Opposition Roundtable to the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party April 19th. and the Democratic League of Independent Trade Unions as an observer) must be allowed to be present. must vow not to use the current Parliament to pass laws which would unilaterally take over Hungarian Common Law. At the same time. for its part. We propose that the Roundtable Talks be held in the building of the Hungarian ParI iament. the MSZMP. the Hungarian Democratic Forum. We forwarded our proposal concerning the terms and agenda of the Roundtable Talks to the Central Committee of the MSZMP in writing on March 30th. . that we have to lay down our detailed negotiating position once again. The MSZMP’s Central Committee must acknowledge members of the Opposition Roundtable as legitimate and equal partners in the talks and must also declare that it will not restrict their power to exercise their political rights for any reason whatsoever. and the Alliance of Free Democrats as full members. The Opposition Round table demands that all its member organizations (the BajcsyZsiliiiszky Endre Friendship Society. the Social Democratic Party of Hungary. the Opposition Roundtable is ready to start effective political discussions with the I-Iungarian Socialist Worker’s Party (MSZMP) following a period of serious preparations. strictly by legitimate means. motivated by a desire to start preliminary discussions for the effective talks immediately. The members of the Opposition Roundtable hereby declare that they are committed to achieving their goal. but have since received no reply. both the MSZMP’s Central Coinniittee and the Opposition Roundtable should make an official declaration before effective talks begin confirming their unconditional commitment to respect constitutional rules. 1989l. the Independent Smallholders’ Party. curtail the freedom of democratic political organizations and their participation in elections.

Any agreements formulated by sub-committees must be approved by the f d l plenary meeting. the agenda of the talks includes. as well as that of its Ministers. should be financed from the government’s central budget. Authenticated minutes will record the work of the plenary sessions and of the sub-committees and will be confirmed by the signatures of the parties concerned. In accordance with the MSZMP’s proposal.2 84 The Roundtable Talks o 1989: The Genesis of Hiingasian Deniocsacy f The talks will be conducted between the delegations of the MSZMP and the Opposition Roundtable. Consequently. The political talks between the MSZMP and the Opposition Roundtable will focus not so much on the subject matter of the Constitution. government agencies. We propose that the Parliamentary Oflice should be responsible for providing any technical support for the talks. and any laws in line with agreements reached must come into effect within the restricted deadlines stipulated by such agreements. . unabridged. Full plenary sessions will be open to the general public. and should be publicized on Hungarian National Television and Hungarian National Radio also.Rules for the setting up of political parties and their fmctioning. Such declarations must be published in national daily newspapers. but rather on aspects of transition to constitutionalism. The sub-committees may consult external experts.The amendment of the Penal Code and of the act on Criminal Proceedings. and fully empowered. and measures to promote peaceful transition. from time to time. It is our firm belief that the drafting of the Constitution and the creation of the Presidency and the Constitutional Court should be the responsibility of a new.the assessment of various political intentions. fieely elected Parliament. if any. publish a mutually agreed communiquk about the status of the talks. The parties emphatically declare that these will be bilateral talks. The agenda of the talks will include the following: . then both parties will be entitled to issue their own declaration. Any agreements must be published unabridged. laws governing the creation of political institutions (sic). Any operating expenses. the talks will be conducted in the form of fill1 plenary meetings. If the parties fail to reach an agreement on the wording of such a communiquC. whilst a decision concerning the publication of the minutes of sub-committee meetings will be taken afier the Roundtable Talks at the discretion of the negotiating partners. The MSZMP undertakes to present the full text of such agreements to the appropriate. The objective of the talks is to allow the negotiating partners to come to an agreement regarding the laws needed for democratic transition and to set a date for the next parliamentary elections. for the most part. a fact to be signaled by the shape of the negotiating table itself. . using the support of its Members of Parlianient and party members at the same time. asking them to pass the necessary laws fully in line with such agreements. . Any agreements must include the text of any Executive Decrees and Bills of the government. Any bills on the agenda of the Roundtable talks must be proposed for social debate during the talks. and will also speak in turn. The negotiating partners will exercise political control over the technical aspects of legislative preparations. and work will take place in sub-committees to be set up by the A separate sub-committee will be set up to discuss every item on the agenda.Media and information Acts. expert fees and other costs. and the parties undertake to respect such agreements. The parties will. Representatives of the two negotiating partners will take turns in chairing the meetings every hour.

1989. April 20. 1989. to conduct preliminary discussions and to ratify the minutes drawn up concerning the positions of the negotiating partners.The creation of guarantees preventing the possibility of any use of force to resolve political conflicts. Budapest. Notes 1 See The Declaration of the Opposition Roundtable. I l d .t Kozpoizti Bizottsdghnak 1989. Dr Liszl6 Solyom and Dr PCter Tolgyessy shall be present as representatives of the Opposition Roundtable and not as representatives of the Lawyer’s Forum. 2 See MSZMP’s proposal of March 30th. Budapest: Hungarian National Archives (1993): pp. .2. Proposal of the Opposition Roimdtable to MSZAP ’s Central Committee 285 . .Re-regulation of electoral law.The holding of a referendum. The parties will sign the agreement outlining the terms of the talks at the start of the first effective meeting. March 30th’ 1989. . tion. Dr Liszlo S6lyom and Dr Pkter Tolgyessy have been mandated to communicate our position regarding the status of preparations for the talks. Contempoi-my Sotri-ce: Magyar Nenizet.The rescinding of laws and decrees hindering the progress of democratic transi. April 19th’ 1989 Opposition Roundtable Soirrce: A Magvar Szocinlista Mimkz5spcii. The MSZMP’s Central Committee is hereby requested to announce its readiness to join the talks and to accept our initiative to start preliminary discussions as soon as possible. e‘vij e g y d h-inyvei. 914-91 5.

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The future of the Iiungarian nation can be changed for the better by respecting the Constitution and by firmly rejecting any use of force. Tn view of the above facts and circumstances. The crisis can be overcome. . and the two must take place interactively. the Miinnich Ferenc Society and the National Council of Trade Unions. the Alliance of Hungarian Democratic Youth. . no political power-holder can claim to be the sole repository of such sovereignty or of the people’s will. and the introduction of the rule of law is conditional on the holding of free elections.3 Agreement on the Commencement of National Roundtable Talks June loth. adopted the following guidelines for the talks: . have expressed their willingness to start effective political talks. the Hungarian Resistance and AntiFascist Alliance. members of the Opposition Roundtable. such as the Alliance of the Political Left Alternative. Many examples from our history should warn us that difficulties shared by all can be resolved strictly by way of consensus.2 These organizations. Peaceful political transition must go hand-in-hand with a relaxation of the economic and political tensions which have been accumulated over the years. It is in our common interest to resolve any social conflicts in accordance with universally accepted European political norms based on general consensus. the National Alliance of Hungarian Women.national sovereignty is the basis of any political power.the public will must be allowed to express itself in the form of free elections subject to no preliminary restrictions. and the outcome of such elections must be binding for all. and political pluralism can be created. All civil organizations and movements must be allowed to participate in the difficult and contradictory transformation process as equal partners. Only the existence of a set of smoothly functioning representative bodies trusted by the people. the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party and the joint delegation of other participating organizations. and a stable and consistent form of government. by determination to reach an agreement and by building an atmosphere of trust and self-restraint. the Patriotic People’s Front. and political power-holders must not seek unconstitutionally to restrict political rights. and no constitutional political organization must be exempt from that rule. acting as equal partners. can prevent a further deepening of the crisis. only by democratic consensus based on the mutual recognition of the interests and goals of all those concerned. The transition from a single-party state to a representative democracy. 1989 (COMMUNIQUE) Agreement on the Commencement of Effective Political Talks’ I The need to recover from the economic and political crisis faced by the Hungarian nation and to transform power structures democratically calls for a dialogue between all political players who feel responsible for the future of this country.

democratic transition and the resolution of political conflicts must take place by peaceful means and without the use of force. and stipulating a deadline for their implementation. All three negotiating partners shall each be represented by one speaker. These are as follows: (a) the Opposition Roundtable (Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Endre Friendship Society. Alliance of Free Democrats. Patriotic People’s Front. and have expressed their desire to be actively involved in the process. an essential prerequisite for the success of constructive political talks is recognition and respect for national interests and the interests of others. all negotiating partners shall have any agreements adopted by their respective organizations. and mutual trust granted in a d ~ a n c e . . The civil organizations and movements listed in Section (c) above. The Opposition Roundtable is free to determine the size and composition of its own delegati~n. for the duration of the talks the negotiating partners will refrain from any unilateral action which could jeopardize the objectives thereof. must uphold such agreements in public. have welcomed the initiative of the MSZMP and the Opposition Roundtable to hold a constructive dialogue and to reach an agreement. All three participants to the talks have the same rights in connection with achieving a consensus. and legislative work can begin only after political agreements are in place. and the Democratic League of Independent Trade Unions as an observer). outlining the necessary government iiieasures and bills.the recovery from crisis. Hungarian Democratic Forum. Independent Smallholders’ Party. whose joining of the effective talks was approved by the Opposition Roundtable based on a compromise proposal made during the preliminary talks. ~ co-operation and agreements must be based on mutually acceptable terms.288 The Roimdtable Tulks of 1989: The Genesis of Himngarian Democracy . Alliance of Hungarian Democratic Youth. no politically motivated exclusionism must be allowed to influence the selection of participants in the talks or the legal status of the negotiating partners. and shall use every possible political instrument available to them to execute such agreements. but the talks themselves are not intended to have any Common Law function. (b) the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party. Political reconciliation talks will take place by and among three negotiating partners aimed at reaching a set of political agreements. Hungarian People’s Party. and no civil organization must be allowed to have direct control over the armed forces. Munnich Ferenc Society and National Council of Trade Unions.~ civil organizations and movements listed in Section (c) above are free to The determine the methodology of reconciling their views and expressing their positions. - - - 1 . Hungarian Resistance and Anti-Fascist Alliance. Federation of Young Democrats. Social Democratic Party of Hungary. and ensuring the viability of the process tnust not be neglected. National Alliance of Hungarian Women. Christian Democratic People’s Party. the talks are aitned at reaching a series of political agreements. and (c) the following civil organizations and movetnents4: Alliance of the Alternative Left. who will be responsible for expressing a coherent opinion on behalf of the party concerned.

such difference of opinion does not affect the fundamentals of the agreement to be reached. if any. in line with the coinmon interests of the parties. A fourth party to the Roundtable talks will be potential observers. and the negotiating partners may publish them if the talks are interrupted. Such representatives are required to present their letter of mandate to the chairman of the plenary meeting. 2. Individual working committees may set up their sub-committees and invite experts to assist them. (b)Sub-committees created to deal with individual items on the agenda will be responsible for making preparations for specific agreements. as required. Individual items on the agenda will be finalized during effective talks. in the opinion of the negotiating partner concerned. Finalized documents will be adopted by the plenary meeting. The initial plenary meeting will be held on June 13th. (d)Decision-making will be based on the principle of sharing common interests and the necessity for consensus. Regular and accurate briefings must be given to the public on the state of the talks. Work in committees will be governed by the principles applicable to plenary meetings.the strategic tasks of combating economic and social crises. The representatives of the three participants to the talks will be granted an equal length of time to speak. . who will then inform the negotiating partners of the contents thereof. . The procedures and work schedule of the political reconciliation talks will be as follows: (a) Effective talks will take place in the form of plenary meetings and work in committees. Bills drafted may be submitted for public debate during the political reconciliatory talks. Any proposals made by a working committee may be submitted to the plenary meeting after they have been signed by the representatives of the negotiating partners. but.3. The negotiating partners will. Participants in the talks shall make a declaration of intent to the plenary meeting and shall proceed to set up working committees6. (c)Any Bills will be drafted with the assistance of the relevant government agencies. Agreement on the Commencement o National Rotmdtable Talks f 289 Representatives of the participating organizations hold a letter of mandate. a consensus can be made notwithstanding. However. If the parties fail to reconcile their views on any particular detail. from time to time. Minutes of every meeting will be drawn up. make a joint declaration to the Hungarian National Telegraphic Agency. but such circumstances will not jeopardize the right of the negotiating partners to give interviews concerning items on the agenda. The plenary meeting will be chaired by the President of Parliament. 1. working committees will sit behind closed doors.defining the principles and rules of democratic political transition. The participants in the talks have agreed to include the following items on the agenda: . who will be responsible for their subsequent publication. Observers can make their comments to the chairman of the talks in writing. Special communiquks may be issued only if talks are interrupted or if the parties fail to work out a joint declaration. (e) Plenary meetings will be open to the press. 1989 (Tuesday) in the Hunters’ Ilall of Parliament. which defines their powers regarding the signing of any agreement. Any approved documents must be signed by the heads of delegation.

the National Alliance of Hungarian Women. mailing. the Patriotic People's Front.290 The Roimdtable Talks of1 989: The Genesis of Hzinguriun Democrocy (0 The parties feel it necessary to emphasize that all costs and expenses of the talks must be born by the government central budget. Budapest. as an observer On behalf of the Alliance of the Left Alternative. the Alliance of Hungarian Democratic Youth.csciiiy Alliance of Hungarian Democratic Youth Inire Kei-ekes Hungarian Resistance and Anti-Fascist Alliance h. These may include the cost of document handling. June 10. 1989 On behalf of the Hungarian Socialist Worker's Party: Gyiirgv Fcjti On behalf of the Opposition Roundtable: Zsolt Z6tknyi Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Endre Friendship Society Lciszlb Kovh Federation of Young Democrats Pe' ter Harcli Independent Sinallholders' Party Gyorgv Szakolczni Christian Democratic People's Party Lciszl6 Sblj)om Hungarian Democratic Forum Csaba Vargu EIungarian People's Party T bor Barar1-vni i Social Democratic Party of Hungary Pkter Tolgyessy Alliance o f Free Democrats Imre Kerinyi Democratic League of Free Trade Unions. the Hungarian Resistance and Anti-Fascist Alliance. the organization of meetings and any expert fees. Sods hdbrta Dobos National Alliance of Hungarian Women Ferenc Bere'nyi Munnich Ferenc Society Mrs Kbsn hlagdn Kovbcs National Council oCTrade Unions . the Munnich Ferenc Society and the National Council of Trade Unions: Csaba Kerniny Alliance o f the Left Alternative Istvhn Ktrkoi*elli Patriotic People's Front Feiwic Gyzn.

Budapest: Orlet (1 990): 294-3 00.”. 2 This sentence as adopted at the bilateral talks reads as follows: “In view of the above facts and circumstances. In Az ElleiizBki Keiekrrsztul. and by Inlre Forghcs. 4 This sentence as adopted at the bilateral talks reads as follows: “other civil organizations and movements.” 3 This paragraph as adopted at the bilateral talks reads as follows: “An essential prerequisite for the succcss of constructive political talks is a high level of mutual trust and mutual recognition and respect for the interests of others”.3. the wording of the agreement is identical with that signed on June 9th by Lhszlb Sdlyom and Pkter Tolgycssy on behalf of the Opposition Roundtable.’ . 5 The sentence as adopted at the bilateral talks uses the expression “other” instead of “listed in Section (c) above”. as members of expert delegations. (June 12th 1989). and shall proceed to set up working comnittees. ref. Edited by Anna Richter. 21 17.. box 7. . Hungarian National Archives [MOL] P. members of the Opposition Roundtable. Istvan Gyorgy and Andras T6th on behalf of the MSZMP.1. Published with facsimile signatures. G The two sentences in this paragraph were initially part of the same sentence: ‘The negotiating parties shall make a declaration of intent at the initial plenary meeting. the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party and the joint delegation of other civil organizations and movements participating in the talks have expressed their willingness to start effective political talks. Ne‘pszubcidscig. Notes 1 With a few minor exceptions. Agreement on the Commencemerit o National Roundtable Tolks f 29 1 Source: Ahgyar Nemzei.

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hszl6 Morvay Viktor Orbin Istvan Prepeliczay Aiidras RCvdsz Gyorgy Szabad Gyorgy Szakolczai Csaba Varga .4 Opening Plenary Meeting of the National Roundtable Talks June 13th. Chairman2 On Behalf of the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party Gyorgy Fejti Karoly Gr6sz Imre Pozsgay On behalf of the Opposition Roundtable: Hunguriun Denzocratic F o r m Hziiigarian Social Deinocratic Par& Hziiigai-ianSocial Democratic Purty IiicfependeiitSinallholders ’Party f Democratic League o Independent Trade Unions Bajcsy-Zsilitiszky Endre Friendship Society Federation o Young Deniocrnts f Deiiioci*aticLeague of Independent Trade Unions Hiingarian Democratic Forion Christian Democratic People ’s Party Independent Sniallholders ’Party f Democratic League o Independent Trade Unions Cliristian Democratic People ‘s Purty Democratic League of Iideperdeizt Trade Unions3 Hiingurian People ‘s Party Federation o Young Deinocrats f Hiiitgarian People s Purty Alliance o Free Democrats f Bajcsy-2s ilinszky Endre Friendship Sociev Federation o Yozing Democmts f Independent SniallrFzoldeis ’ Party Social Deinocratic Party o Hungary f Hungarian Deinocratic Foriim Christian Democratic People’s Party Hungarian People’s Party J6zsef Antall Sindor Bicskai Tibor Baranyai Irnre Boross Gyula Csomds Tstvan Domonkos Gibor Fodor Ilona Fonyodi Lajos Fiir Ti bor Fiizessy Piter Hardi Imre KerCnyi Sandor Keresztes Imre K6nya LBsz16 K6nya Lhszlci KiivCr Janos Marton Imre MCcs I. 1989 (NARRATIVE TEXT OF THE VIDEO RECORDING) Venue: Hunter’s Hall of Parliament Participants:l Matyas Szuros.

LajosnC Duschek Mrs. can be lifted from its current position only by means of a joint effort under conditions of political pluralism. I greet everyone here at this exceptional moment. as negotiating partners. organizations. and you. Let the deep crisis that this country is facing remind you of the responsibility that you have. at the Hunters’ Hall in Parliament. Everyone is looking forward to the forthcoming dialogue of Hungarians with Hungarians. 1989. yourselves.294 The Roimdtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hiuigarian Democracy Karoly Vigh Zsol t ZCtCnyi Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Endre Friendship Society Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Endse Friendship Sociev On Behalf of the Third Side to the Talks: Miinnich Fe?-enc Society National Council of Trade Unions Il. provided that the negotiating partners can find the solutions needed to change the future of the nation for the better and can reach an agreement. I am opening this nieeting4 in order to st& effective talks between various political parties. Soos Miria Dobos Aiidrcis SzCchy Andris Varjas Miityis Sziiros: Distinguished negotiating partners. We can set the nation on the path of progress and democracy and raise it to European standards only by sticking together. I sincerely hope that those sitting around this negotiating table will be driven by a sense of responsibility and do everything in their powers to reach an agreement. mutual respect and trust. The Hungarian people and Hungarians living in the world at large are now turning their attention to Parliament. but do not allow the acute Ceeling of anxiety to suppress . and the national chariot. have a great responsibility. The stakes are high. In line with the agreement signed by the negotiating partners on June IOth. political and social forces who are active in Hungary today. K6sa Magda Kovics Istvan Kukorelli Inire Nagy B6la Rabi Sindor Sirkozi Mrs. StindornC Fazekas Attila Hajdu Istvtin Huszcir Marton Ispanovics Lajos Tstvan Csaba K e m h y Mrs. The catastrophe threatening us can be averted. It cannot be done by standing apart or when there is a rift between political parties. to promote democratic transforination and fiindamental renewal. Therefore. which could mark the end of one era and the beginning of a new one. These are difficult times. bring about reconciliation and join forces in the name of equality. make a national compromise. stuck deeply in a rut.liirinich Ferenc Societv Alliance of Hungarian Deniocmtic YOlIth Hiir igariaii Resis tance and Ant i-Fascist A Iliaiice Alliance of the Alternative Left National Cotincil of Hungasian Womeii National Cotriicil of Hinigarian Women National Cotriicil of Trade Unions Patriotic People ’s Front Hungarian Resistance and Anti-Fascist Alliance Patriotic Nntiorial Front Alliance of the Alternative Left National Coirncil of Trade Unions Patriotic People’s Front Allionce of Hungarian Democratic Youth Allinrice of Hungarian Democrutic Youth Hungarian Resistance oitd Anti-Fascist Alliance Niitioital Cotrncil of Hirrzgarirni Wonien hfiinriich Feseric Society Alliance of the Altcrwative Lejl J6zsef Aggod Attila Bcilint Ferenc BerCnyi L6sz16 Boldvai Ltiszlo Csillag Gyorgy Drucker Mrs. fellow countrymen! Allow me to welcome all participants to the talks.

moving away from a power structure which has already used up all its internal resources and which cannot be tied down to specific detail. but who will nevertheless be able to give us their opinions and comments in writing6 My dear negotiating partners and fellow-countrymen! Allow me now to give the floor to the head of the delegation of the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party and its spokesman: Karoly Grbsz. some differences still exist regarding the scope of participants and particular details of the issues to be debated. Opening Plenary Meeting of National Roundtable Talh 295 the hope inside which keeps us alive. Many feel anxiety and uncertainty about the future. major differences of opinion arose during the preliminary talks.8 Our decision was in line with the political objectives of all those whose representatives are now sharing the same table. Therefore allow me to welcome you here today on behalf of the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party with trust and hope. as negotiating partners.4. The public is both hopeful and concerned about the outcome of this experiment. at the February.” My dear negotiating partners. to show a good example and to demonstrate to the Hungarian people that you not oiily wish to end the previous regime and start a new era. You will have to show that you can break with the past. and that they have presented their letters of mandate. Naturally. 1989. Remember the wise and timely wisdom of Ferenc Deak: “One may put everything at risk for one’s country. Kiiroly Grcisz: Ladies and gentlemen. our sense of responsibility for the future of the nation-and this is what really matters-has overcome any divisions. Since May 1988. even at the cost of having to suppress your own feelings and personal ambitions. but one must never put one’s country at risk. whether in Hungary or abroad. such as the broadening of civil rights.g We are gradually. but that you also possess what it takes to do it. Also present are the observers of several political parties and organizations. and the confrontations. assuming competition between political parties. It is up to you. As you know. This welcome is extended also to those who will be witnessing the start of effective talks on the television screen. it was decided that we have to seek a peacef~il way for transition into a representative democracy based on political pluralism. including the freedom of the press and the fieedom of speech. and that you are ready to work out agreements to promote the public good. Hungary has been undergoing a transformation of historical magnitude. the ride of the few. The troubles and tensions burdening inillions of people can be eased. meeting of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party. People are looking to these talks for reassurance amidst the hardships they are facing. fellow-countrymen! Today’s hectic world is not overfull of hopeful events. we can make our common dream of the late 20th century come true and a free and democratic Hungary will be born! Be reminded of the responsibility you have also by the events of this week: the burial of Imre Nagy and his fellow martyrs in the name of serving historical and political j~istice. We are responsible for making this enterprise a success not oiily to the Hungarian people. the complicated tasks of democratic transition can be addressed by joint determination. I can now announce that the representatives of all political parties and organizations who signed the agreement of June 10th are here today. who will not actively participate in the talks. This is confirmed by the important steps which have already been taken towards political reform.7 However. Just a few months ago.1° the explosive increase in the number of political organizations or the firm resolve realistically to face up to the often hurtful events of the . but also to the international community. Secretary-General of the party.~ Political talks and a burial: days marked by deep wounds and the desire for reconciliation. the narrow-minded intrigues of power-holders. but at an increasing rate.

The Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party and other political forces are trying to build a democratic and socialist state based on the rule of law and the will of the people. of the fact that. by another schematic approach of a different orientation. Objective exploration of the past must include. The idea of reforin has become an integral part of our way of thinking. mean that we want to share our responsibility [with you] for falling into the existing economic and political crisis. be credible.ll It is no exaggeration to say that-and international public opinion will confirm it-we have done more in one year in this regard than we have done over the previous decades. without the reforin endeavours of these past decades. and hoping and wanting to make it a success. 1988. We cannot accept a total rejection of the last four decades for several reasons. but at the same time we are working to promote the birth of an undivided Europe. We are firmly resolved to break with any reinnants of the Stalinist model. is a heritage of the past. first of all. While pursuing the universal values of peace and humanity. neither the events of May. if any. any uncertainty notwithstanding. apart from investigating the causes of the political events giving rise to so much controversy today. Economic and political reforms based on general consensus are meant to ensure that we recover from the economic crisis and that the country can start to catch up with the most advanced regions of the world. and we must not substi