The Dawn Did Break, and She Went Home - a Hungarian TL

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Heat, Apr 14, 2018.

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  1. Threadmarks: Prologue

    Heat Waiting for Robert

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    heat no
    heat yes

    Prologue

    Where Eastern Bloc countries such as Poland or Czechoslovakia had strong opposition movements lead by charismatic figures, Hungary had a gaggle of competing circles of intellectuals. As really existing socialism became increasingly untenable, the task of reform fell to the Hungarian Communists themselves. The Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party (MSZMP) had increasingly fallen under the sway of reformist figures like Imre Pozsgay, Miklos Németh, and Rezső Nyers, who initiated the transition towards a market economy and a multi-party system by opening round table talks with democratic opposition groups. While some of these, like the liberals of the Alliance of Free Democrats and the Alliance of Young Democrats, the conservative Independent Smallholders' Party or the Social Democrats were more radically anti-communist, others such as the national-populist Democratic Forum (which was the most prominent opposition movement) and the Christian Democratic People's Party were more conciliatory towards the reform Communists who now controlled the MSZMP. This difference would soon manifest itself over the course of the Round Table, as the opposition became increasingly split on the question of electing a new President. In the hopes that its likely candidate, Imre Pozsgay, would win, the MSZMP had proposed to directly elect a President prior to free parliamentary elections. While the Democratic Forum was inclined to agree to this, as it did not see Pozsgay as a threat to the fledgling democracy, the more radical, liberal opposition factions refused to agree to such an option, fearing their own marginalisation under a 'grand coalition'. Using the new popular initiative law, they forced a referendum on whether the President should be elected before or after parliamentary elections, as well as on whether the MSZMP should have to account for all of its properties, the dissolution of the Workers' Militia, and the banning of MSZMP organisations in workplaces. Following a short campaign in which the liberals, the Smallholders and the Social Democrats engaged in ever more radical anti-communist rhetoric which increasingly also targeted the Democratic Forum, the latter three questions passed overwhelmingly by margins of 95% or more, but the most important question regarding the presidential election returned a result of 50.1% in favour of electing the president before parliamentary elections. As it was too late to hold direct elections, Pozsgay was instead easily elected by the National Assembly.

    In the last months of 1989, the MSZMP formally dissolved itself, with its reformist and moderate elements forming the Hungarian Socialist Party, led by Rezső Nyers. Subsequently, free parliamentary elections were called for the 25th of March, 1990. The new Socialists and the Democratic Forum, while weakened by the brutal referendum campaign, went into them as the frontrunners backed by the authority of President Pozsgay. While the other opposition parties attacked them viciously, the result was a foregone conclusion – the Socialists and the Democratic Forum held a large majority between them, and despite some grumbling from certain Forum members, the two went into coalition, ready to lead Hungary into a new era.

    Results of the 25 March/8 April 1990 Hungarian parliamentary election:
    Hungarian Socialist Party: 22.0%, 133 seats
    Hungarian Democratic Forum: 20.9%, 93 seats
    Alliance of Free Democrats: 14.8%, 60 seats
    Independent Smallholders' Party: 11.6%, 44 seats
    Alliance of Young Democrats: 8.7%, 22 seats
    Christian Democratic People's Party: 6.2%, 20 seats
    Hungarian Social Democratic Party: 4.1%, 12 seats
    Agrarian Alliance: 3.1%, 2 seats
     
  2. Utgard96 basically a load of twaddle about freedom

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    So the PoD here is that the first referendum question fails?
     
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  3. Beata Beatrix Anarchist Mum

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    If this is that thing you talked to me about then I just I aaaaa
     
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  4. Heat Waiting for Robert

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    Yes, it fails by roughly the same margin by which it succeeded IOTL.
     
  5. Wendell Wendell

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    Lost in what might have been
    Looks interesting.
     
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  6. Utgard96 basically a load of twaddle about freedom

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    So do they still use the same partial-birth abortion of an electoral system for the National Assembly?
     
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  7. Heat Waiting for Robert

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    Yes, even though I'd have liked to butterfly that away.
     
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  8. Blebea Cezar-Iulian Well-Known Member

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    Hey, @Heat, would you also feature other countries in your TL?
     
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  9. Heat Waiting for Robert

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    My ambition is to have this TL be part one of a loose mini-series covering various countries of the former Eastern Bloc, but that'll have to wait for obvious reasons. For now I'm focusing on Hungary.

    Update coming soon, btw.
     
  10. Blebea Cezar-Iulian Well-Known Member

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    Great to read that. I hope that it will also cover my home country of Romania. If it will, I can offer you advice on it.
     
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  11. Threadmarks: Rezső Nyers (1990-94)

    Heat Waiting for Robert

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    hqdefault.jpg
    Rezső Nyers (Hungarian Socialist Party)
    With the victory of the Socialists, Rezső Nyers, the last president of the Socialist Workers' Party and the first president of the Socialist Party, became the natural candidate for Prime Minister of Hungary. In the 1960s, Nyers had been the architect of the Kádár-era economic reforms, and now, together with his deputy prime minister, Democratic Forum leader József Antall, Nyers claimed he would maintain stability and continue the reforms of the Németh government. The opposition, of course, denounced the coalition as a cosy stitch-up, but they could only seethe on the sidelines. Right?

    The Nyers government did indeed largely continue Németh's reforms – privatisation moved at a gradual pace, which bred accusations that the process was corrupt and favoured foreigners and the old nomenklatura. The Socialists believed that a quick privatisation process in which companies were to be sold off at low prices would not benefit the country, while the Democratic Forum, with its ambitions to become a broad-tent party of the centre and right and the representative of a romanticised 'Christian-national middle class', generally agreed but pushed for more shares in state-owned enterprises to be sold to small domestic investors. In addition, the government pursued a tight fiscal policy, cutting subsidies and welfare payments and increasing the prices of those products the government still controlled, including petrol. The final point caused much trouble for the government, as near the end of 1990 taxi drivers blockaded streets and bridges in Budapest, demanding that petrol prices be returned to their prior level. After a week-long stand-off, the government and the taxi drivers had reached a compromise in which the price increase would be lowered by 20%, but the damage had been done as the government began to earn a reputation for division and dithering.

    More trouble came over the course of 1991 and 1992 with the onset of a deep recession, as GDP dropped by 20% and both the deficit and unemployment ballooned. By 1993, Lajos Bokros, the Socialist finance minister, proposed a deep austerity package in which taxes would be raised, the forint would be devalued, welfare payments would be drastically cut and state employees' salaries would be frozen. The Democratic Forum was more hesitant and proposed more infrastructure spending to boost the economy, as many members still had vaguely 'third way' (between capitalism and communism) and/or dirigiste inclinations while others simply feared the likely electoral consequences of harsh austerity. In the end, Antall chose to walk out of the coalition, while a group of over 30 MPs from the Democratic Forum's left-wing quit and formed a rival parliamentary faction which, together with the Agrarians and a group renegade Smallholders pushed out by new leader József Torgyán, who took an increasingly populist course, continued to prop up the Socialist minority government. Together with the departure of its far-right, populist faction led by writer István Csurka to form the Justice and Life Party, the Democratic Forum seemed dead.

    While the Nyers premiership was already likely dead in the water due to the economic turmoil, the factor that ensured he would take his party down with him turned out to be 'Danubegate'. In 1993, it was revealed that the Németh government had tolerated the wiretapping of opposition figures even after the Round Table talks, and that members of the security services who had tried to blow the whistle had been intimidated into silence. The opposition, particularly the Young Democrats and the Free Democrats, demanded and received a parliamentary inquiry, which inevitably led to the cross-examination of Nyers and other high-ranking Socialists. The end result was that the bottom simply fell out of the Socialists' already dire poll ratings. As new elections approached, the Socialists were polling in single digits, while the Free Democrats, under the right-leaning leadership of Péter Tölgyessy, had become the frontrunners. However, they failed to anticipate that the Democratic Forum, now purged of its pro-Socialist wing as well as its far-right troublemakers, was making a comeback. Antall's measured criticism of the Bokros austerity plan gave the party a new lease on life, and he expounded a 'social market economy', building up the middle class, and a return to traditional values and the rule of law. It was a vague message, but it resonated more than Tölgyessy’s dry monetarism, as the Democrats swept to victory while Nyers watched all he and his fellow reformers had tried to build crumble to dust before him.

    Results of the May 1994 Hungarian parliamentary election:
    Hungarian Democratic Forum: 24.2% - 169 seats (+76)
    Alliance of Free Democrats: 17.3% - 80 seats (+20)
    Independent Smallholders' Party: 13.0% - 47 seats (+3)
    Alliance of Young Democrats: 9.2% - 30 seats (+10)
    Hungarian Social Democratic Party: 8.0% - 25 seats (+13)
    Christian Democratic People's Party: 6.7% - 21 seats (+1)
    Hungarian Justice and Life Party: 5.4% - 14 seats (+14)
    Hungarian Socialist Party: 4.9% - 0 seats (-133)
    Workers' Party: 4.8%
     
  12. Fehérvári Well-Known Member

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    Could you write down the Hungarian names of the parties too, please? Or, atleast their abreviations?
     
  13. Heat Waiting for Robert

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    I can do abbreviations, I've been avoiding it because last time I did one of these TLs people were struggling to keep track of them but I can see the problem here as well
     
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  14. fscott As you age things get gayer

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    What a name for the president!
     
  15. Southern pride Well-Known Member

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    Very good will watch eagerly
     
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