István Dobi

István Dobi (Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈiʃtvaːn ˈdobi]; 31 December 1898 – 24 November 1968) was a Hungarian politician who was the Prime Minister of Hungary from 1948 to 1952. He was the first Communist to hold the post, joining the party shortly after it seized full control of the country in 1949.

István Dobi
Dobi István 1948-06.jpg
42nd Prime Minister of Hungary
3rd Prime Minister of the Second Hungarian Republic
In office
10 December 1948 – 20 August 1949
PresidentÁrpád Szakasits
DeputyMátyás Rákosi
Preceded byLajos Dinnyés
Succeeded byHimself
as Chairman of the Council of Ministers
Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the People's Republic of Hungary
In office
20 August 1949 – 14 August 1952
PresidentÁrpád Szakasits
Sándor Rónai
DeputyMátyás Rákosi
Preceded byHimself
as Prime Minister
Succeeded byMátyás Rákosi
3rd Chairman of the Presidential Council of the People's Republic of Hungary
In office
14 August 1952 – 14 April 1967
Preceded bySándor Rónai
Succeeded byPál Losonczi
Minister of Agriculture
In office
23 February 1946 – 20 November 1946
Prime MinisterFerenc Nagy
Preceded byBéla Kovács
Succeeded byKároly Bárányos
In office
16 April 1948 – 10 December 1948
Prime MinisterLajos Dinnyés
Preceded byÁrpád Szabó
Succeeded byIstvan Csala
Personal details
Born(1898-12-31)31 December 1898
Szőny, Kingdom of Hungary
Died24 November 1968(1968-11-24) (aged 69)
Budapest, Hungarian People's Republic
Political partyIndependent Smallholders' Party (1916-1949)
Hungarian Working People's Party (1949-1956)
Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party (1956-1968)

Early lifeEdit

Dobi originated from a poor peasant family and was born in Szőny, in the Komárom County of the Kingdom of Hungary. He finished primary school and in 1916 came into contact with the peasant movement. He supported the Hungarian Soviet Republic and in 1919 he was imprisoned for the first time. Upon his release, he was active in peasant and social democratic politics from the early 1920s and under police surveillance for this. He later worked as a casual laborer and became a farmer by occupation. Although he was not a member of the Communist Party, he was arrested several times during the regency of Miklós Horthy.

World War IIEdit

During the war he became one of the leaders of the Hungarian resistance until he was called up for duty, returning in the summer of 1945. By the end of World War II he had become a leading member of the Smallholders Party, which achieved a majority in general elections. Dobi was a member of the left-wing faction of that party, and advocated cooperation with the communists.

Post warEdit

With the Smallholders being a part of Hungary's post war coalition government, Dobi served as Minister of Agriculture.

As a leading member of the Smallholders' left wing, Dobi contributed some much needed legitimacy to a government that was increasingly dominated by Communists. Due in part to his strong support of the Communists, he replaced fellow Smallholder Lajos Dinnyés as prime minister in December 1948, helping preside over the final stage of the Communists' complete takeover of the country. In short order, Dobi pushed out those elements of his party who were unwilling to do the Communists' bidding, leaving the party in the hands of fellow travelers like himself. This process was repeated with the other non-Communist parties as well.

Thus, by the time of the 1949 elections, Hungary was effectively a one-party state. The 1949 elections formalized this status, with voters only having the option of approving or rejecting a Communist-dominated list. One of the first acts of the newly elected National Assembly was to approve a Soviet-style constitution, formally marking the onset of out-and-out Communist rule in Hungary.

In terms of allegations of collaboration with the party, the New Hungarian Encyclopedia summed up Dobi's role in the Communist takeover in this way: "Following the ousting of the Smallholders Party right wing elements, he was selected to be president. Under his direction the party was cleansed of its reactionary elements and it became part of the program for building a people's democracy with the Communists."

After all non-Communist parties were formally disbanded in 1949, Dobi joined the Hungarian Working People's Party (as the Communists had been known since forcing the Social Democrats to merge with them the previous summer). In 1952, he gave up the prime ministership because Communist Party boss Mátyás Rákosi wanted that post for himself. Dobi was then promoted to Chairman of the Presidential Council (de facto president of Hungary) from 1952 until his retirement in April 1967. Through taking on numerous other high-profile roles, he eventually became the second or third most powerful man in Hungary. He supported the crushing of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. He was a winner of the Lenin Peace Prize in 1962. He died in Budapest in 1968.


  • Writings of István Dobi, Politikatörténeti és Szakszervezeti Levéltár, PIL 769. f.
  • Hungarian Biographical Lexicon
  • Biography In: Országgyűlési Almanach 1947–1949, Budapest, 2005, ISBN 963-03-3856-4
Political offices
Preceded by
Béla Kovács
Minister of Agriculture
Succeeded by
Károly Bárányos
Preceded by
Árpád Szabó
Minister of Agriculture
Succeeded by
István Csala
Preceded by
Lajos Dinnyés
Prime Minister of Hungary
Succeeded by
Mátyás Rákosi
Preceded by
Sándor Rónai
Chairman of the Hungarian Presidential Council
Succeeded by
Pál Losonczi
Party political offices
Preceded by
Zoltán Tildy
Chairman of the Independent Smallholders' Party
Succeeded by
party dissolved