In the late 1980s and early 1990s Hungary was widely seen as one of the leaders of the ‘transition’ to a capitalist market economy and a liberal democracy, with the reform process begun while the communists were still in power. However, from this starting point, Hungary has since experienced growing social and political polarisation, problems of ineffective governance, failed or limited attempts at social reform, and widespread popular distrust of its political class. This book presents a comprehensive overview and analysis of Hungarian politics and society in the period of post-Communist transformation. Based on extensive original research including interviews with key participants, the book discusses how ad hoc governance arrangements made as Communism collapsed have become permanent, to the disadvantage of the political system, how economic stagnation has exacerbated political polarisation, and it focuses on several key areas of social reform showing how the flawed political process has frustrated the attempts at reform. It concludes with an assessment of the likely impact of all of this on Hungarian politics going forward.
Introduction 1. The complex character of the Hungarian transformation process 2. The post-transition political system 3. Economic and Social Reform in the making of the new system 4. Policy Making and the Privatisation of Telecommunications 5. Policy Making and Pension Reform 6. Policy Making and Healthcare Reform 7. Policy Making and Labour Policy 8. Arrested transformation and its consequences for Hungarian Politics