Hungarian parliamentary election, 1990

Hungarian parliamentary election, 1990
25 March and 8 April 1990

All 386 seats in the National Assembly
194 seats needed for a majority
Turnout 65.11% and 45.54%
  First party Second party Third party
Leader József Antall János Kis Vince Vörös
Leader since 21 October 1989 23 February 1990 23 March 1989
Last election Did not exist Did not exist Did not exist
Seats won 165 94 44
Seat change Increase165 Increase94 Increase44
Popular vote 1,213,820 1,050,440 576,256
Percentage 24.72% 21.40% 11.74%

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
Leader Rezső Nyers Viktor Orbán Sándor Keresztes
Party MSZP Fidesz KDNP
Leader since 9 October 1989 List leader 30 September 1989
Last election 288 seats, 99.1% Did not exist Did not exist
Seats won 33 22 21
Seat change Decrease255 Increase22 Increase21
Popular vote 534,897 439,448 317,183
Percentage 10.89% 8.95% 6.46%

Results of SMCs

Prime Minister before election

Miklós Németh

Elected Prime Minister

József Antall

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Foreign relations

Parliamentary elections were held in Hungary on 25 March 1990, with a second round of voting taking place in all but five single member constituencies on 8 April.[1][2] They were the first completely free and competitive elections to be held in the country since 1945, and only the second free elections in the country's history. The conservative, nationalist Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) beat the liberal and more internationalist Alliance of Free Democrats, which had spearheaded opposition to Communist rule in 1989, to become the largest party in parliament. The Hungarian Socialist Party, the former Communist party, suffered a crushing defeat, winning only 33 seats for fourth place.

MDF leader József Antall became prime minister in coalition with the Christian Democratic People's Party and Independent Smallholders' Party.


Hungary's transition to a Western-style democracy was one of the smoothest among the former Soviet bloc. By late 1988, activists within the party and bureaucracy and Budapest-based intellectuals were increasing pressure for change. Some of these became reformist social democrats, while others began movements which were to develop into parties. Young liberals formed the Federation of Young Democrats (Fidesz); a core from the so-called Democratic Opposition formed the Association of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), and the national opposition established the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF).

Among the organized opposition, Round Table Talks began in March 1989, a series of formalized, orderly and highly legalistic discussions, inspired by the Polish model. At that point, longtime leader János Kádár had been removed from power for almost a year, and the Communists' Central Committee that month admitted the necessity of a multiparty system, with various groups like Fidesz and the Alliance of Free Democrats (SzDSz) having emerged.[3] Mass demonstrations on March 15, the National Day, persuaded the regime to begin negotiations with the emergent non-Communist political forces. A week later, these new movements, at the initiative of the Independent Lawyers’ Forum, formed the Opposition Round Table (Ellenzéki Kerekasztal, EKA), designed to prevent the Communists from trying to maintain power by dividing the opposition, and to establish some degree of unity in the face of the regime’s own reform agenda.[4] The table was composed of a small number of elite organizations, whose grassroots links were poorly developed and whose very existence stemmed in part from the collaboration of key Communist reformers. Specifically, it involved the SzDSz, Fidesz, the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF), the Independent Smallholders’ Party (FKgP), the Hungarian People’s Party (MNP), the Endre Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Society, and the Democratic Trade Union of Scientific Workers. At a later stage the Democratic Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the Christian Democratic People's Party (KNDP) were invited.[5]

In October 1989, the ruling communist Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party (MSZMP) convened its last congress and re-established itself as the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP). In a historic session from 16 October to 20 October, the parliament adopted legislation providing for multi-party parliamentary elections and a direct presidential election. The legislation transformed Hungary from a People's Republic into the Republic of Hungary, guaranteed human and civil rights, and created an institutional structure that ensured separation of powers among the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of government.

An agreement was reached involving six draft laws that covered an overhaul of the Constitution, establishment of a Constitutional Court, the functioning and management of political parties, multiparty elections for National Assembly deputies, the penal code and the law on penal procedures (the last two changes represented an additional separation of the Party from the state apparatus).[4][6] The electoral system was a compromise: about half of the deputies would be elected proportionally and half by the majoritarian system.[7] A weak presidency was also agreed upon, but no consensus was attained on who should elect the president (parliament or the people) and when this election should occur (before or after parliamentary elections). Initially, the opposition was united in wanting the president elected by parliament after new elections to ensure parliamentary supremacy and minimise the MSzMP’s power.[8] Then, faced with Communist concessions, the relatively weak opposition split, as at least three moderate groups (including KNDP and MDF) signed the Round Table agreement and implicitly accepted Pozsgay as president while the radicals (notably Fidesz and the SzDSz) refused to do so. After a burst of negotiations, fully free elections were scheduled for March 1990, in contrast to the semi-free elections held in Poland in June 1989.[9]

Electoral system

Of the 386 seats in the National Assembly, 176 were elected from single member constituencies, 120 from multi-member constituencies and a further 90 from "compensatory" national seats.[10]


Party SMCs MMCs National
Votes % Seats Votes % Seats
Hungarian Democratic Forum1,186,79123.91141,213,82024.74010164
Alliance of Free Democrats1,082,96521.8351,050,44021.4342392
Independent Smallholders' Party529,29910.711576,25611.7161744
Hungarian Socialist Party504,99510.21534,89710.9141833
Christian Democratic People's Party287,6145.83317,1836.581021
Patriotic Electoral Coalition157,7983.2091,9101.9000
Agrarian Alliance139,2402.81154,0033.1001
Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party131,4442.70180,8993.7000
Hungarian Social Democratic Party104,0102.10174,4093.6000
Entrepreneurs' Party82,5181.7092,6841.9000
Hungarian People's Party38,6470.8037,0470.8000
Green Party of Hungary19,4340.4017,9510.4000
National Smallholders' and Civic Party12,3660.309,9440.2000
Independent Social Democratic Party7,5640.2000
Somogy County Christian Coalition5,0290.105,9660.1000
Hungarian Cooperative and Agrarian Party5,8820.104,9450.1000
Independent Hungarian Democratic Party4,6400.102,9540.1000
Freedom Party4,3420.102,8140.1000
Hungarian Independence Party2,1290.002,1430.0000
Alliance for the Village and Countryside3,0920.1000
Holy Crown Society1,9060.0000
Party of Generations, Party of Pensioners and Families1,7620.0000
Alliance for the Protection of Nature and Society1,2840.0000
Hungarian Workers' Democratic Center Party9730.0000
Party for Rural Hungary6900.0000
Social Democratic Party of Hungarian Gypsies6130.0000
People of the Orient Party – Christian Democrats3460.0000
Invalid/blank votes96,109172,136
Registered voters/turnout7,798,82765.07,822,66165.1
Source: Nohlen & Stöver


  1. Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p899 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. Nohlen & Stöver, p924
  3. Grzymała-Busse 2002, p. 108.
  4. 1 2 Heenan & Lamontagne 1999, p. 13.
  5. Falk 2003, p. 147.
  6. De Nevers 2003, p. 130.
  7. Elster & Offe Preuss, p. 66.
  8. Butler & Ranney 1994, p. 185.
  9. Grzymała-Busse 2002, p. 109.
  10. Nohlen & Stöver, p935

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