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Government and Politics in Hungary

By andras Korosenyi

Publication Year: 1999

Based on unprecedented access to information, Government and Politics in Hungary provides not only a historical overview but also an analysis of the main political actors, constitution, electoral system, parliament and political parties of Hungary. This timely and detailed analysis contains a wealth of important data which serves two major objectives. The first is to survey the most important institutions of the political and governmental systems and the cultural and behavioural characteristics of Hungarian politics. The second, is to provide the reader with a clear understanding of the two-way relationship between cultural-behavioural and constitutional-institutional levels of politics in Hungary. The book challenges many stereotypes of post-communist political literature and reveals why Hungarian politics does not fit into many of the generalizations and 'pigeon holes' of contemporary political science.

Published by: Central European University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-6


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pp. vii-xii

List of Tables

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pp. xiii-xvi

List of Figures

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pp. xvii-17


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pp. xviii-18

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Preface and Acknowledgements

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pp. xix-xxii

Innumerable studies have appeared in Hungarian and international political science concerning particular aspects of the political system that emerged in Hungary out of the transition to democracy in 1989-90. Researchers have been interested primarily in the political actors (particularly the parties) in the constitution and in the democratic transition. By contrast, other areas-such as the operation of the government, the public administration and the parliament-have remained largely untouched. While many books have been published on Hungarian politics,1 none has sought to present a general survey of the Hungarian political system. Though some more broad-ranging studies have been...

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Introdaction: Political Traditions

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pp. 1-10

In the years following the democratic transition of 1989-1990, Eastern and Western European political scientists alike pondered the same point: to what extent would the emerging democracies in Hungary and the other East-Central European countries be viable? The factors making the stabilization of these democracies more difficult included not only ...

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1. Political Culture

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pp. 11-26

Political culture can be approached from several angles. According to one approach political culture signifies the collective cultural and behavioural models of the political community, combined with the modes of collective problem-solving and conflict resolution that the community employs and shares (Bibb, 1986-90; Dahl, 1971; Kende, 1993)...

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2. The Parties

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pp. 27-50

The role of political parties was decisive in Hungary during the transition, and the parties continue to be central to Hungarian politics today. Because of their importance, it is necessary that we give an overview of these parties before we proceed further in our discussion of the various elements of the Hungarian political system of the 1990s. This is the task ...

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3. The Party System

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pp. 51-58

By the party system we mean the array of parties and the structure and dynamics of inter-party competition. This involves the system of inter- action between the parties-how the individual parties are placed on the political spectrum, on what dimensions and in what ways inter-party competition takes place, what the role of ideology is, the extent to which ...

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4. Political Cleavages

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pp. 59-70

At the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, after four decades of political dictatorship and homogenizing social policies, many believed that Hungarian society was politically diffuse and undifferentiated and that the great majority of the voters who had suddenly obtained the right of electoral choice possessed no kind of political identity.1 In fact, ...

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5. Political Elites

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pp. 71-102

Classical élite theories emphasize the point that the distribution of power and influence in every society is unequal. In every political community and political system, there are people and groups that possess greater political power and influence than the others. They form the political élite. The individuals and groups forming the political &lite either possess ...

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6. Electoral Behaviour

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pp. 103-116

This chapter considers electoral behaviour at the micro-level-the level of the individual voter. First we analyse the level of volatility in voters’ party preferences. Then we assess the extent to which patterns nevertheless exist in those preferences-that is, we assess the degree to which party preferences and a range of demographic, sociological and other ...

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7. The Electoral System and' Elections

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pp. 117-132

Elections are among the most important events in any democratic political system: their results have a large bearing over-and often deter- mine-the composition of government during the years that follow. In this chapter we therefore consider the three parliamentary elections that have taken place since the régime change in Hungary (a short overview ...

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8. Economic Interest Groups and Interest Reconciliation

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pp. 133-144

During the democratic transition, besides the parties, organized interest groups also appeared spontaneously in Hungarian politics. Tens of thousands of associations, foundations and interest-representative organizations emerged during the first half of the 1990s. In what follows we will consider only a few of these, focusing upon economic interest-representative or- ...

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9. The Constitutional and Governmental System

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pp. 145-172

One of the most important historical features of the Hungarian constitution is that for centuries it was based upon customary law. The common law ‘selected’ from the corpus of written and unwritten law those laws that were to have constitutional strength and to become constitutional traditions. The so-called historical constitution that developed in this ...

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10. The Government

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pp. 173-206

In modern parliamentary systems, the government is able to exercise considerable control over all parts of the state apparatus- from the legislature through the ministries to the public administration. This applies as much to the Hungarian government as to any other. In what follows, we consider the Hungarian government first from the point of view of its ...

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11. Governmental Decision-Making and Control over the Administration

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pp. 207-224

Hungary is not a federal but a unitary state. Nevertheless, its public administration is divided into two parts: the centralized state administration that is subordinate to the central organs of state and, in general, ultimately to the government; and the functional self-governments and local councils that possess considerable powers and autonomy aside from their ...

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12. The Parliament

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pp. 225-262

We have already discussed the role of parliament in the process of government formation. In the present chapter, we consider the operation of the parliament as a legislative, decision-making institution, as well as the parliament's representative responsibilities and the functions of the parliament in respect of governmental oversight and political publicity. ...

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13. The Constitutional Court

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pp. 263-274

Among the constitutional courts of Western Europe, the strongest are those found in countries that experienced dictatorship during the inter-war period- it was here that, during the reconstruction of democracy in the aftermath of the Second World War, the perception of the need for a guarantor of the constitutional state was greatest. By contrast, in ...

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14. The Head of State

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pp. 275-284

The head of state in Hungary is the president of the republic. The presidency was created by constitutional amendment on 23rd October 1989, and it was filled for the first time on 3rd August 1990, with the election of Árpád Göncz. Göncz continues to hold the office today. Reflecting the parliamentary nature of Hungarian government, the presidency is a weak ...

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Conclusion: Hungarian Democracy

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pp. 285-298

In the thematic chapters we have surveyed the most important institutions of Hungary’s political and governmental system and the most important cultural and behavioural characteristics of Hungarian politics. In what follows we do not wish to give a strict thematic summary of this- that would only repeat the conclusions given at the end of each chapter. ...


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pp. 299-304


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pp. 305-322


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pp. 323-330

E-ISBN-13: 9786155211379
Print-ISBN-13: 9789639116764

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 1999

Edition: 1st