First Democratic Government Formed 30 Years Ago

May 23, 2020

It was on May 23, 1990 that Hungarian parliament, the first democratically elected one for over four decades, elected historian József Antall as the Prime Minister of the country to head a center-right coalition government that enjoyed a 60% majority in the national assembly.

As part of the transition from one-party communist style rule to parliamentary democracy, elections for the national assembly were held in Hungary on March 25, 1990, with a second round of voting taking place in all but five single member constituencies on April 8.

The conservative, nationalist Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) won 164 seats in the 386-member parliament, beat the liberal and more internationalist Alliance of Free Democrats (94 seats), which had spearheaded opposition to Communist rule in 1989. Third was the Smallholders' Party with 44 seats.

József Antall's government contributed to the Euro-Atlantic orientation of Hungary. It played a great role in the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the termination of the Comecon (the economic cooperation of the Soviet bloc) as well as in the withdrawal of the occupying Russian (formerly Soviet) forces in 1991. In that year, József Antall was awarded, in Strasbourg, with the Robert Schuman Prize for his activities aimed at uniting Europe as well as extending Hungary's European relations.


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