Hungarian Socialist Party

Published 17th March, 2014

The Hungarian Socialist Party or MSZP was founded on 7th October 1989 as the successor to the dissolved former communist party, Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (MSZMP) which had ruled Hungary since the end of the Second World War. The party can trace its roots back to the Hungarian Communist Party which was founded in November 1918. Since the fall of communism the MSZP has changed its political position and now describes itself as Centre-left and believes in Social democracy.

In the first free democratic elections after the fall of the Iron Curtain the Socialists managed to win just 33 of the 386 seats in the Országgyűlés or National Assembly.

However, after a poor performance from an inexperienced government the Socialists were able to take advantage and took 209 of the 386 seats in 1994. Gyula Horn became the new Prime Minister and quickly forged a coalition with the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ).

Corruption, internal conflict and an austerity programme meant that the Socialists lost the 1998 election, taking 134 seats, but they came back in 2002 when they took 178 seats and consolidated their power in 2006 when they won 186 seats. Each time they formed an alliance with the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ).

But, after two terms in office the Socialists were deeply unpopular as they went into the 2010 general election. They were not helped by revelations of a post 2006 election briefing by Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány in which he admitted lying to the people during the campaign. The government had also been dogged by their own policies which led to inflation, a drop in the standard of living, battles with various public sector bodies and a battle with their coalition partners over health insurance which led to a split in the coalition in 2008.

In 2010 the Socialists were reduced to just 59 seats. The Socialists and centre-left generally have become so weakened in recent years that for the 2014 general election they formed a new alliance called Unity on 14th January 2014 which consists of four parties plus the MSZP; they are Together 2014 (E14), Democratic Coalition (DK), Dialogue for Hungary (PM) and Hungarian Liberal Party (MLP).

The Hungarian Socialist Party is a member of Socialist International and of the Progressive Alliance. Regionally the party is a member of the Party of European Socialists and within the European parliament where it has four of the 22 national seats it is a member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

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