Hungary Politics 1960's

Hungary Politics 1960’s


On the political level, the Sixties opened in the sign of liberalization, initiated by the congress of November-December 1959, in which Kádár, supported by Khrushchev, strengthened his position. In 1960 he combined the office of party secretary with that of prime minister, held for two years by F. Münnich, alongside his deputy G. Kallai (who in turn was prime minister from 1965 to 1967). With the dismissal of the incompetent G. Marosán and the dogmatic I. Dogei, Kádár promulgated two amnesties (1960 and 1963) which benefited many intellectuals who had supported the 1956 uprising, such as Déry, Hay, Zelk, Tardos and István Bibò, former secretary of state of I. Nagy. In August 1962 the Central Committee of the party rehabilitated Rajk and 190 other victims of the Rákosi regime, who was expelled from the party together with Gerö and 17 other exponents of the Stalinist era; while K. Kiss, president of the control commission, was forced to resign due to his reluctance to de-Stalinization. The new industrial city Sztalinváros changed its name to Dunajváros. Press censorship was reduced and translations of Western works were allowed as cinema and theater revived. The VIII Congress of November 1962 confirmed the new political line. At the beginning of 1963 the Hungarian question was no longer among those proposed to the attention of the UN, and U Thant visited Budapest in July of the same year; in the following autumn Kádár went to Belgrade where he was reconciled with Tito. In September 1963 the Hungarian government reached an agreement with the Vatican, first step of a policy of conciliation, carried out despite the opposition of the primate d’U. Jószef Mindszenty, who agreed to leave the American embassy in Budapest – where he had taken refuge in 1956 – only in 1971. (In fact, since 1957 the Catholic hierarchies had agreed to collaborate with the government). For Hungary political system, please check

The Hungarians thus had “many freedoms although not freedom itself” (Paul Ignotus). The regime gained in popularity, also thanks to income growth per capita which already in 1960 was 20-35% higher than in 1956. The party increased its membership from 96,000 in December 1956 to 512,000 in December 1962 (714,000 in 1974); people who were not members of the party were also admitted to important roles in the administration, while the persecution of wealthy peasants and school discrimination against the children of the old middle class ended. The attempt of the Magyar leaders to get out of their relative isolation by launching the proposal of a more intense collaboration with the nations of the Danube basin (Austria, Yugoslavia, Hungary and Czechoslovakia), in which only the Austrians showed interest (visit of the Austrian Foreign Minister Kreisky in Budapest in 1964, reciprocated by the Hungarian colleague J. Pétér the following year, and visit of Chancellor Klaus to Budapest in 1967). Inside, all sorts of territorial claims were muted. Only on February 24, 1972, a twenty-year treaty of mutual assistance with Romania raised the problem of the cultural defense of the Magyar minority of Transylvania, while respecting the inviolability of the borders. However, the controversy over the situation of this minority was raised again in 1978 by politicians and men of culture in both states concerned. The alliance treaties signed with the Dem Rep. Of Germany and the USSR in 1967, in a spirit of strengthening the Eastern bloc, balanced the normalization of diplomatic relations with the USA (1965). In particular, the Hungarian and East German governments agreed to transfer to the German Dem. Rep., lacking manpower, 30,000 Hungarian workers.

The policy of religious conciliation towards Catholics and Calvinists has continued, leading to the inclusion of believers in the socialist state; there is a state office for ecclesiastical affairs, which closely monitors diocesan activities and carries out consultations with the Holy See before new episcopal appointments. In 1968, despite a certain sympathy of the population towards the Prague spring, the Hungary took part in the intervention in Czechoslovakia; then Kádár was an example and encouragement to Husák’s “centrism”. In line with the policy of international detente, the Hungary has developed its relations with the West as well as with the Third World, by now maintaining diplomatic relations with 104 countries (among the states recognized in recent years: Federal Republic of Germany, Portugal, Australia, Mexico and Bangladesh). Within the international communist movement, the POSU remains in decidedly critical positions towards Maoism without showing any sympathy for Ceausescu’s national communism. In recent years, the problem of young people has been particularly worrying, open to a sort of cosmopolitanism and to the tendencies of the “new left”. The latter has its center in the “Budapest school”, composed mainly of disciples of G. Lukács, in which the figure of the sociologist A. Hegedüs emerges (former Prime Minister in 1956, before the second ministry of I. Nagy) . They criticize both bureaucracy, both the attempt to compete with capitalism by recreating the logic of profit; instead of a society founded on the rigid separation of social and productive tasks, they want popular control over the management of specialists and greater labor mobility. The poet Harasazti found himself on even more radical positions, who suffered several convictions, the most sensational of which in January 1974 for having clandestinely published a memoir on his experience as a worker (at the trial he claimed that the Hungarian workers suffer a exploitation equal to that suffered under capitalism). The leadership team responded to these phenomena by enacting a law on the condition of the young and giving greater importance to the Communist Youth Federation. The 12th POSU Congress in March 1980 reaffirmed absolute loyalty to the USSR in foreign policy regarding both the controversy over the installation by NATO of the new Cruise and Pershing missiles and the Soviet invasion of Afghānistān. In economic policy it has relaunched the choice in favor of market prices, wage differentiation based on the quality and productivity of labor, the autonomy of companies and the adaptation of the national economy to the Western ones, with which ‘intends to intensify exchanges. There was also a general self-criticism regarding the failure to implement the five-year plan and the dysfunctions of the economic system. General Secretary Sándor Gáspár asked for some margin of autonomy for the union. Kádár himself.

Hungary Politics 1960's