Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party

The Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party (Hungarian: Magyar Szocialista Munkáspárt, MSZMP) was the ruling Marxist–Leninist[1] party of the Hungarian People's Republic between 1956 and 1989. It was organised from elements of the Hungarian Working People's Party during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, with János Kádár as general secretary. The party also controlled its armed forces, the Hungarian People's Army.

Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party
Magyar Szocialista Munkáspárt
First leaderJános Kádár
Last leaderRezső Nyers
Founded31 October 1956
Dissolved7 October 1989
Preceded byHungarian Working People's Party
Succeeded byHungarian Socialist Party, Hungarian Communist Workers' Party
HeadquartersBudapest, Hungarian People's Republic
Youth wingHungarian Young Communist League
Armed wingHungarian People's Army
Workers' Militia
Political positionFar-left
MSZMP propaganda leaflet. The caption reads: "Long live the unbreakable unity of our party and our people!"

Like all other Eastern Bloc parties, the MSZMP was organized on the basis of democratic centralism, a principle conceived by Vladimir Lenin that entails democratic and open discussion of issues within the party followed by the requirement of total unity in upholding the agreed policies. The highest body within the MSZMP was the party Congress, which convened every five years. When the Congress was not in session, the Central Committee of the MSZMP was the highest body. Because the Central Committee met twice a year, most day-to-day duties and responsibilities were vested in the Politburo. The party leader was the de facto chairman of the Politburo and a de facto chief executive of Hungary. At various points he served as the prime minister in addition to being party leader.


The party supported the revolution, but turned against Imre Nagy's government after he denounced the Warsaw Pact. The party formed a 'Revolutionary Peasant-Worker Government' that took over the country, with Soviet support, on 4 November 1956.

Gradually, however, the new government instituted goulash Communism, a somewhat more humane way of governing than had prevailed under Mátyás Rákosi. Under Kádár's mantra of "he who is not against us is with us," Hungarians generally had more freedom than their Eastern Bloc counterparts to go about their daily lives. For example, his government executed only 350 people after the 1956 revolution. The government also gave limited freedom to the workings of the market via the New Economic Mechanism. However, it retained a monopoly of political power, and subjected the media to censorship that was fairly onerous by Western standards. The National Assembly, like its counterparts in the rest of the Soviet bloc, continued to rubber-stamp decisions already made by the MSZMP leadership.[2] It was the dominant component of the Patriotic People's Front, a popular front that included some non-Communists. However, all prospective candidates had to accept the Front's program in order to stand. Indeed, Kádár and his close advisers used the Front to weed out candidates they deemed unacceptable.[3]

Kádár retired on 22 May 1988 and was succeeded by Prime Minister Károly Grósz. However, Grósz soon found himself eclipsed by a group of radical reformers who favored establishing a market economy. On 28 January 1989, young Politburo member and minister of state Imre Pozsgay announced during an interview with the radio program 168 Hours that the Poliburo's historical sub-committee regarded the events of 1956 as a 'people's uprising'. This announcement, not approved in advance by the Politburo, provoked and catalyzed various developments within the party, and brought about sudden and ever-escalating changes that, within nine months, resulted in the ending of Communism in Hungary and the dissolution of the MSZMP.[4]

By the summer of 1989, the MSZMP was no longer a Marxist–Leninist party, and the radical reformers, led by Prime Minister Miklós Németh, Foreign Minister Gyula Horn, Rezső Nyers, and Pozsgay, had taken over the party machinery. On 26 June 1989, the Central Committee was renamed the Political Executive Committee, and the Politburo was replaced by a four-man collective presidency chaired by Nyers. Although Grósz remained general secretary, Nyers now outranked him. On 7 October 1989 the MSZMP was dissolved and refounded as the Hungarian Socialist Party, a Western-style social democratic party. Two weeks later, the National Assembly approved numerous amendments to the constitution that purged it of its Marxist–Leninist character, ending one-party rule in Hungary.

A small Communist faction, centred on Károly Grósz, opposed these reforms and broke away to form the Hungarian Communist Workers' Party on 17 December 1989.

Leaders of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' PartyEdit

First/General SecretariesEdit

No. Picture Name
Term of Office Position(s) Notes
1   János Kádár
1 November 1956[5] 22 May 1988 First Secretary Also Prime Minister (1956–1958 and 1961–1965)
General Secretary

(from 28 March 1985)

2   Károly Grósz
22 May 1988 26 June 1989[6] Also Prime Minister (1987–1988)

Chairman of the Presidency of the Political Executive CommitteeEdit

No. Picture Name
Term of Office Position(s)
1   Rezső Nyers
26 June 1989 7 October 1989 Party President[7]

Electoral historyEdit

National Assembly electionsEdit

Election Party leader Votes % Seats +/– Position Government
1958 János Kádár as part of Patriotic People's Front
276 / 338
  70   1st Sole legal party
252 / 298
  24   1st Sole legal party
259 / 349
  7   1st Sole legal party
224 / 352
  35   1st Sole legal party
215 / 352
  9   1st Sole legal party
252 / 352
  37   1st Sole legal party
288 / 387
  36   1st Sole legal party

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Hungary - Ideology". Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  2. ^ Sebetsyen, Victor (2009). Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire. New York City: Pantheon Books. ISBN 978-0-375-42532-5.
  3. ^ Burant, Stephen R. Hungary: A Country Study Burant, p. 181-185
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 28 September 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Previously First Secretary of the disbanded Hungarian Working People's Party 25–30 October 1956.
  6. ^ Continued as general secretary until 7 October 1989 but outranked by Rezső Nyers, the Chairman of the 4-man Presidency of the newly created Political Executive Committee which replaced the Politburo after 26 June 1989.
  7. ^ While Grósz retained the title of General Secretary until 7 October, Nyers held the chairmanship of the Party's four-man presidency after the reorganization of the Party leadership on 26 June. This made him de facto chief executive of both the Party and the country after that date, a post he held for most of the summer of 1989.