Politics in Hungary

By Peter A. Toma; Ivan Volgyes | Go to book overview

5 Policy Making, Interest Aggregation, and Rule Making

The 1972 Revised Constitution makes it perfectly clear that the Hungarian People's Republic is a socialist state (not yet a socialist republic) and that the Marxist-Leninist party of the working class (the hswp) is the leading force in Hungarian society. An analysis of these two strictures in conjunction with postulates from the Party statutes (for example, that the Party is the only organization capable of leading and representing the workers) reveals that there is limited access to policy making in Hungary. The issue then becomes whether interest-group politics have any meaning at all in the Hungarian political process. Can organized groups compete for power and/or influence? What is the role of the Party in the decision-making process? Do organized groups play a role in the formulation of policy? What are the formal and informal processes of policy making?


The Organization of State Authority

The Rakosi regime had established socialist institutions in every aspect of Hungarian political, social, and cultural life as early as 1953. Except for a few slight modifications, these institutions have remained the same. Political power in the Hungarian People's Republic still originates from four major sources: the executive and legislative organs of state power, the state administration, the judiciary, and the public prosecutor's office. Moreover, there is still no separation of legislative, executive, and judicial powers. The unity of these powers is justified on the ideological grounds that in a socialist state there is only one will, representing one interest, and therefore there can be only one public power. Competing interests would weaken and eventually destroy socialism. Hence, at least in theory, all institutions serve only one interest because, as Chapter 1 of the Revised Constitution states, "All power is exercised by the working people."

The legislative and executive organs of state power include the National Assembly and the Presidential Council as well as the local councils. Hungary is divided into nineteen counties, and each county is governed by a People's Council. The organs of state

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