Alliance of Free Democrats

The Alliance of Free Democrats – Hungarian Liberal Party (Hungarian: Szabad Demokraták Szövetsége – a Magyar Liberális Párt, SZDSZ) was a liberal[1][2][3][4] political party in Hungary.

Alliance of Free Democrats – the Hungarian Liberal Party
Szabad Demokraták Szövetsége – a Magyar Liberális Párt
First leaderJános Kis
Last leaderViktor Szabadai
Founded13 November 1988
Dissolved30 October 2013
Headquarters1143 Budapest, XIV. Gizella utca 36.
Social liberalism[1]
Economic liberalism[5]
Political positionCentre
European affiliationAlliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe[2]
International affiliationLiberal International[2]
European Parliament groupAlliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (2004–2009)
Colours  Blue
Most MPs
94 / 386
Website (in Hungarian; as of October 2012, home page offered link to English module)

The SZDSZ was a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party[2] and of Liberal International.[2] It drew its support predominantly from Budapest among the middle classes, liberal intellectuals and entrepreneurs.

Origins and history

Its origins lay in the illegal democratic opposition under the communist rule of János Kádár. This gave rise to the loosely organized Network of Free Initiatives (Szabad Kezdeményezések Hálózata) on 1 May 1988 and to the foundation of the SZDSZ as an opposition political party on 13 November 1988. Its founding leaders included János Kis, Márton Tardos, Gáspár Miklós Tamás, and Miklós Haraszti.[6]

The party initially suggested a radical agenda for changing the political, social and economic system in the country. It suffered a close defeat at the first free general elections of the Third Republic in 1990, thus becoming the leading opposition force in the first free National Assembly (Hungary's parliament).

After the fall of the Hungarian Democratic Forum conservative government at the following 1994 parliamentary election, SZDSZ surprised many by entering into a coalition with the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), legal successors to the communist Hungarian Socialist Workers Party. Thus began a strategic alliance between the two parties that lasted for 14 years, ending only in 2008. The coalition successfully defeated Orbán's Fidesz in 1994, 2002 and 2006.

The heyday of the SZDSZ may be thought to have ended when it suffered heavy losses in the 1998 parliamentary election. In 2002 parliamentary election, it gained only 5.5 percent of the vote, returning 20 deputies to the National Assembly.

Until its withdrawal from the coalition in May 2008, the SZDSZ had three portfolios. It also had a delegation in the European Parliament, receiving 7.7 percent of the Hungarian vote and two members in the 2004 Hungarian European Parliament election.

In the 2006 parliamentary election, it gained no directly elected seats, but 6.5 percent of the list votes, thus securing 20 members in Hungary's 386-seat National Assembly. (This was the first time that the party managed to increase its support compared with a previous general election.) The MSZP–SZDSZ coalition had a small majority in the new National Assembly.

On 31 March 2008, various reform-related disagreements between the MSZP and SZDSZ led the SZDSZ leader János Kóka to announce that his party would quit the coalition by 1 May 2008.[7] This also meant that the MSZP would have to form the first minority government in Hungary since the change of regime in 1989.

However, the legitimacy of Kóka's position as party president became questioned when it was discovered that some signatures of the delegates to the assembly electing him had been forged. Since he had won his position by a very small margin over Fodor, these votes might have changed the outcome. So a new leadership election was held in June[8] and Fodor was returned.

In the 2009 Hungarian European Parliament election, SZDSZ was essentially wiped out by the voters, having won no seats and earning just 2.16 percent of the total votes, less than half of the minimum five percent needed to secure representation. The party did not even receive five percent in Budapest, its traditional stronghold. Party president Fodor offered his resignation as soon as the official tally was announced at 10:00 p.m.

In the 2010 parliamentary election, SZDSZ won only 0.25 percent of the vote and was shut out of the legislature altogether for the first time since the change of regime. The party was even wiped off the map in Budapest. Alliance of Free Democrats officially ceased to exist in October 2013.[9][10]

SZDSZ provided the first freely elected President for the Third Hungarian Republic, Árpád Göncz. The SZDSZ High Mayor of Budapest, Gábor Demszky was in office continuously since 1990 till 2010, when he was replaced by István Tarlós (who by himself was a member of SZDSZ in the 1990s).

Election results

National Assembly

Election Votes Seats Rank Government Prime Minister
#  % ±pp # +/−
1990 1,050,452 21.4%
94 / 386
±0 2nd in opposition János Kis
1994 1,066,074 19.7% 1.7
70 / 386
24 2nd MSZP-SZDSZ Supermajority Iván Pető
1998 353,186 7.88% 11.82
24 / 386
46 4th in opposition Gábor Kuncze
2002 313,084 5.57% 2.31
20 / 386
4 3rd MSZP-SZDSZ Majority Gábor Kuncze
2006 351,612 6.5% 0.93
20 / 386
0 3rd MSZP-SZDSZ Majority (until 2008) Gábor Kuncze
20101 12,652 0.25% 6.25
0 / 386
20 8th extra-parliamentary

1 10 joint candidates with the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF).

European Parliament

Election year # of overall votes  % of overall vote # of overall seats won +/- Notes
2004 237,908 7.77% (3rd)
2 / 24
2009 62,527 2.16% (6th)
0 / 22

Party leaders

  • János Kis  23 February 1990 to 23 November 1991
  • Péter Tölgyessy  23 November 1991 to 13 November 1992
  • Iván Pető  13 November 1992 to 24 April 1997
  • Gábor Kuncze  24 April 1997 to 20 June 1998
  • Bálint Magyar  20 June 1998 to December 2000
  • Gábor Demszky  December 2000 to June 2001
  • Gábor Kuncze  June 2001 to 31 March 2007
  • János Kóka  31 March 2007 to 7 June 2008
  • Gábor Fodor  7 June 2008 to 12 July 2009
  • Attila Retkes  12 July 2009 to 29 May 2010
  • Viktor Szabadai  16 July 2010 to 30 October 2013[11]

See also


  1. Hloušek, Vít; Kopeček, Lubomír (2010), Origin, Ideology and Transformation of Political Parties: East-Central and Western Europe Compared, Ashgate, p. 115
  2. Nordsieck, Wolfram (2010). "Hungary". Parties and Elections in Europe. Archived from the original on 27 July 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  3. José Magone (2010). Contemporary European Politics: A Comparative Introduction. Routledge. p. 456. ISBN 978-0-203-84639-1.
  4. Paul G. Lewis (2000). Political Parties in Post-Communist Eastern Europe. Routledge. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-415-20182-7.
  5. Szarvas, Lászlo (1995), "Parties and Party Factions in the Hungarian Parliament", Hungary, Frank Cass & Co., p. 121
  6. Bohlen, Celestine (25 March 1990). "UPHEAVAL IN THE EAST; A Democratically Evolving Hungary Heads into Unknown at Polls Today". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  7. Szakacs, Gergely; Chance, David (31 March 2008). "Hungary's governing coalition to break up". Reuters. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  8. "SZDSZ-tisztújító június 7-én". Népszabadság Online (in Hungarian). 11 April 2008. Archived from the original on 15 April 2008.
  9. Megszűnhet az SZDSZ, Origo, 2013. július 25.
  10. Johnné Rósenblüth Erzsébet lemondott, ősszel megszűnhet az SZDSZ, ATV, 2013. július 25.
  11. [clarification needed] Staff (16 July 2010). "Újra van elnöke az SZDSZ-nek – Szabadai Viktor az új ügyvezető elnök". Népszava (in Hungarian). Retrieved 5 October 2012.