Social Democratic Party of Hungary

Social Democratic Party of Hungary
Magyarországi Szociáldemokrata Párt
Abbreviation MSZDP
Chairman László Andráska
Vice President Sándor Szőcs
Zsolt Csiszár
Founder Pál Gábor Engelmann
Founded 12 December 1890
October 1956 (as SZDP)
9 January 1989
Dissolved 12 June 1948
November 1956
Preceded by General Workers Party of Hungary (MÁMP)
Headquarters 1107 Budapest, Somfa köz 17.
Newspaper Népszava
Youth wing Social Democratic Youth Movement (SZIM)
Ideology Social democracy
Political position Centre-left
European affiliation Party of European Socialists
International affiliation Progressive Alliance,
Socialist International
Colours Red
National Assembly
0 / 199
European Parliament
0 / 21
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The Social Democratic Party of Hungary (Hungarian: Magyarországi Szociáldemokrata Párt, MSZDP) is a social democratic[1] political party in Hungary. The party was dissolved during the the occupation of Hungary by Nazi Germany (1944-1945) and the communist period of Hungary from 1948 to 1989. It worked legally for a short time during the Revolution of 1956.

It was government party as a part of the Károlyi Government (1918-1919), Berinkey Government, Peidl Government (1919), Interim National Assembly (1944-1945) and Dinnyés Government (1947-1948). It was reorganized after Hungary's transition from communism in 1989.

The MSZDP is a member of the Socialist International and of the Progressive Alliance, takes part in the Party of European Socialists (PES).


Hungary as part of Austria-Hungary:

Hungary as an independent country:

History up to 1989

The party grew in power and influence until the First World War, which resulted in the party fracturing into pro-war and anti-war factions. The chaos which followed the war resulted in the collapse of the Dual Monarchy. The MSZDP leadership entered into government as part of an unsuccessful post-war socialist administration. Revolution and counter-revolution resulted in a brutal backlash against opposing political camps. This led to both the Red Terror and the White Terror. Many MSZDP supporters were killed during the White Terror. The entire left-wing boycotted the elections of 1920, which resulted in a right-wing victory and continued right-wing government for the inter-war period.

The MSZDP made their peace with Miklós Horthy's government in 1921 with the Bethlen-Peyer pact. More radical elements were suppressed, and trade union activity was increasingly driven underground during the 1930s. After 1939, the party became known as the SZDP, dropping the "Magyarországi" moniker. The environment became increasingly hostile during the Second World War and activity virtually drained to a halt. With the Nazi takeover of Hungary in 1944, the party was declared illegal. Many of the leadership were executed, with the remainder imprisoned or driven underground.

The party was a member of the Labour and Socialist International between 1923 and 1940.[2]

The MSZDP fought the election of November 1945, finishing in a strong second place. From 1945-1948, the MSZDP governed in association with the Smallholders' Party. They were placed under increasing pressure to merge with the Hungarian Communist Party. Eventually, the right-wing were forcibly excluded from the MSZDP - and this allowed the party to officially join the Soviet-sponsored Hungarian Working People's Party. With the establishment of the police state, members were increasingly pressured to co-operate with the Communists. The grouping became the largest party in 1947, but by the end of 1948 the MSZDP had ceased to function independently.

The MSZDP re-emerged defiantly in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Under the leadership of Anna Kéthly, Gyula Kelemen and József Fischer the MSZDP took a prominent role in Imre Nagy's Provisional Government. For the first time in many years the party newspaper Népszava was published independently. Following the suppression of the Revolution in 1956 and 1957, the MSZDP disappeared again under state repression, and much of the leadership escaped into exile.

The gradual softening of the official government policies in Hungary in the 1970s and 1980s led to many in the governing Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party (MSZMP) being associated with Reform Communism. This was sometimes not easily distinguishable from social democracy.

History after the transition

In 1989 the MSZDP was re-founded, and took a prominent role in the transitional arrangements before the first elections. The MSZMP, now calling itself the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), started with a large base of members, plenty of financial resources and a core electorate. The MSZP and MSZDP were in competition for the same left-wing support.

The transition period was marked by chaos in the newly reformed MSZDP. There were many disagreements throughout 1989 regarding the direction of the MSZDP, and a breakaway was established in November 1989 as the "Historical" Social Democratic Party (SZDP or tSZDP). The SZDP claimed to be the ideological successor to the "anti-communist" MSZDP of 1945-1948 and 1956. Another breakaway party also emerged in 1989 - the Independent Social Democratic Party (FSZDP). The results of the 1990 elections under the leadership of Anna Petrasovits was a huge disappointment to the MSZDP, as the reconstituted party failed to reach the 5% parliamentary threshold. Following the replacement of Petrasovits, Endre Borbély and Zoltán Király held the position for a year respectively.

Following the defeats in 1990 and 1994, the MSZDP has failed to cross the threshold into Parliament at every subsequent election. Whilst retaining its separate status, it has become even further linked to the MSZP. Its leader (since 1994), László Kapolyi, was elected to Parliament in 2002 as part of a joint MSZP–MSZDP ticket. Between 2002 and 2010, he sat with the MSZP in Parliament, as a normal MSZP MP, and after 2007 he was joined by Gábor Hárs, a 'defector' from the MSZP.

In 2007 and 2008, further defections from the MSZP to the MSZDP in Óbuda and Zugló resulted in some pressure to more clearly define an independent social democratic perspective to differentiate the party from the MSZP. In response to this, László Kapolyi tried to prevent further defections from joining, under pressure from the MSZP's leadership. However, pressure from the remaining membership of the MSZDP has created tensions. In November 2009, a number of local MSZDP associations made autonomous decisions to form electoral alliances with the Green Left, regardless of the MSZDP's national leadership. Due to the leadership's close ties to the MSZP, the MSZDP was unable to capitalise upon the MSZP's growing unpopularity in the run-up to the Hungarian parliamentary election, 2010, and it was doubtful that it had a membership of more than 100 active subscribers.

On its 45th Congress on 8 October 2011, Kapolyi was re-elected as chairman, and Andor Schmuck was elected as general secretary.[3] At the 46th Congress on 24 November 2012, long serving chairman Kapolyi was not running again for re-election, Schmuck was elected as his successor.[4] On 26 May 2013, an attempt was made to officially dissolve the MSZDP, with a small successor party established as the Hungarian Social Democrats' Party (Szocdemek) under the leadership of Andor Schmuck whilst excluding former leader László Kapolyi. The decision of the Congress has since been challenged. Political opponents of Schmuck elected Kapolyi chairman again. The Social Democratic Party under Kapolyi participated in the 2014 general election, as well as Schmuck's new party, which took most of the members and large part of the infrastructure of the MSZDP. László Kapolyi died on November 29, 2014 after a long illness.[5]

Election results

Election year National Assembly Government
# of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
MSZDP boycotted the election due White Terror
17 % (#2)
25 / 245
New in opposition
11.1 % (#3)
14 / 245
Decrease 11 in opposition
11 % (#4)
14 / 245
Steady 0 in opposition
6.7 % (#4)
11 / 245
Decrease 3 in opposition
3.4 % (#4)
5 / 260
Decrease 6 in opposition
125 / 498
Increase 120 in government
17.4 % (#2)
69 / 409
Decrease 56 in government
14.86 % (#4)
67 / 411
Decrease 2 in government
3.6 % (#8)
0 / 386
0.9 % (#11)
0 / 386
Steady 0 extra-parliamentary
0.1 %
0 / 386
Steady 0 extra-parliamentary
0.7 %
1 / 386
Increase 1 extra-parliamentary
did not participate
1 / 386
Steady 0 extra-parliamentary
0.08 %
0 / 386
Decrease 1 extra-parliamentary
0.02 %
0 / 199
Steady 0 extra-parliamentary

1 Joint individual candidates with the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP). Party President László Kapolyi was elected MP and joined MSZP parliamentary group.

2 Kapolyi was elected MP from the National List of MSZP. In 2008, Socialist MP Gábor Hárs left his party and joined MSZDP.

General Secretaries then Presidents

Party merged to Socialist Party of Hungary (1919)

Party merged to Hungarian Working People's Party (1948–1956)

Party disbanded (1956–1989)


  1. Janusz Bugajski (2002). Political Parties of Eastern Europe: A Guide to Politics in the Post-Communist Era. M.E. Sharpe. p. 351. ISBN 978-1-56324-676-0. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  2. Kowalski, Werner. Geschichte der sozialistischen arbeiter-internationale: 1923 - 19. Berlin: Dt. Verl. d. Wissenschaften, 1985. p. 332
  4. Schmuck Andor lett az MSZDP elnöke
  5. Meghalt Kapolyi László (Hungarian)
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