Hungarian Socialist Party

Hungarian Socialist Party
Magyar Szocialista Párt
President Gyula Molnár
Vice President Zoltán Gőgös
Parliamentary leader Bertalan Tóth
Founded 7 October 1989
Preceded by Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party
Headquarters 1066 Budapest, VI. Jókai utca 6.
Youth wing Societas – New Movement
Ideology Social democracy[1]
Political position Centre-left[2]
European affiliation Party of European Socialists
International affiliation
European Parliament group Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Colours Red and Green
National Assembly:
29 / 199
European Parliament:
2 / 21
County Assemblies
56 / 419
This article is part of a series on the
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Foreign relations

The Hungarian Socialist Party (Hungarian: Magyar Szocialista Párt), known mostly by its acronym MSZP, is a social-democratic[3][4][5][6] political party in Hungary.

It was founded on 7 October 1989 as a social democratic party by the reform wing of the ruling socialist Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party. As a result of the 1994 parliamentary election, MSZP won an absolute majority and entered a coalition with the liberal Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ); thus the post-communist party was released from a so-called "political quarantine" (by being the former state party the socialists were in a quarantine by the other democratic parties). MSZP was one of the two major parties in Hungarian politics until 2010; however, the party lost much of its popular support as a result of 2006 protests and the 2008 economic crisis. Still MSZP is the strongest opposition party in the parliament since 2010, when its long-time right-wing rival Fidesz won a two-thirds majority.


It is the partial successor of the communist Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party (or MSZMP), which ruled Hungary between 1956 and 1989. The decision to declare the party a successor of the MSZMP was controversial, and still carries repercussions for both the MSZP and Hungary. Another source of controversy is that some members of the former communist elite maintained political influence in the MSZP. Indeed, many key MSZP politicians were active members or held leadership positions within the MSZMP (like Gyula Horn and László Kovács). The party is not to be confused with the Workers' Party, a marginal party of hardline communists and another successor to the MSZMP.

On economic issues, the Socialists have often been greater advocates of liberal, free market policies than the conservative opposition, which has tended to favor more state interventionism in the economy through economic and price regulations, as well as through state ownership of key economic enterprises. The MSZP, in contrast, implemented a strong package of market reforms, austerity and privatization in 1995-96, called the Bokros package, when Hungary faced an economic and financial crisis. According to researchers, the elites of the Hungarian 'left' (MSZP and SZDSZ) have been differentiated from the 'right' by being more supportive of the classical neo-liberal economic policies, while the 'right' (especially extreme right) has advocated more interventionist policies. In contrast, issues like church and state and former communists show alignment along the traditional left-right spectrum.[7] It is also noteworthy that, according to research, the MSZP elite's positions used to be closer to voters of the SZDSZ than to their own.[8]

Besides a more liberal approach to the economy overall, the MSZP differentiated itself from the conservative opposition through its more recent focus on transforming state social policy from a collection of measures that benefit the entire population, such as subsidies available to all citizens, to one based on financial and social need.

Besides Gyula Horn, the MSZP's most internationally recognized politicians were Ferenc Gyurcsány and László Kovács, a former member of the European Commission responsible for taxation.

At the 2006 elections, MSZP won with 43.2% of party list votes, which gave it 190 representatives out of 386 in the Parliament. The MSZP was therefore able to retain its coalition government from the previous term. In earlier elections, the MSZP polled 10.89% (1990), 32.98% (1994), 32.92% (1998) and 42.05% (2002).

After the successful fees abolishment referendum, MSZP formed the first minority government of Hungary, following the SZDSZ's backing out of the coalition with a deadline of May 1, 2008.

2010s decline

On 21 March 2009 Gyurcsány announced his resignation as Prime Minister due to failure management of the economic crisis.[9][10] Gordon Bajnai became the nominee of MSZP for the post of prime minister in March 2009[11] and he became Prime Minister on 14 April. Gyurcsány also resigned from his position of party chairman, which he had occupied since 2007.[12]

MSZP has lost half of its supporters during the European Parliament election in 2009, when the party received only 17,37% of the votes and gained four seats, compared to the previous nine seats. This electoral defeat marked the end of the de facto two-party system in Hungary, which lasted since 1998.

The Hungarian Socialist Party suffered a heavy defeat in the 2010 election (won by Fidesz with a ⅔ majority), gaining only 19,3% of the votes, and 59 seats in the parliament. Following the resignation of Ildikó Lendvai, the party's prime minister candidate Attila Mesterházy was elected Chairman of the Socialist Party.[13] Nevertheless, MSZP became the biggest opposition party in Hungary.

The left-wing fragmented after the 2010 election; at first Katalin Szili left the MSZP to form Social Union (SZU), following the similarly significant defeated local elections in October 2010, nevertheless Gyurcsány's detachment was a much more disaster for the Socialists. Initially, the former PM wanted to reform the party, but his goals remained in the minority. As a result, Gyurcsány, along with nine other members of the parliamentary group, left MSZP and established Democratic Coalition (DK). Thus MSZP's number of MPs reduced to 48.[14]

The Socialist Party entered into an alliance with four other parties in January 2014 to contest the April parliamentary election. Mesterházy was elected candidate for Prime Minister position, but the Unity alliance failed to win. After that the electoral coalition disestablished.[15] On the 2014 European Parliament election, MSZP suffered the largest defeat since the 1990 parliamentary election, gaining third place and only 10% of the votes.[16] After the obvious failure, Mesterházy and the entire presidium of the Socialist Party resigned.[17][18]


In political terms, the MSZP differentiates itself from its conservative opponents mainly in its rejection of nationalism. The party is a member of the Progressive Alliance,[19]Socialist International, and Party of European Socialists (PES), and it holds a chairmanship and several vice-chairmanships in committees at the European Parliament.


Image Name Entered office Left office Length of Leadership Date of Birth and Death
1 Rezső Nyers 9 October 1989 27 May 1990 7 months, 18 days 21 March 1923 –
2 Gyula Horn 27 May 1990 5 September 1998 8 years, 3 months, 9 days 5 July 1932 – 19 June 2013
3 László Kovács 5 September 1998 16 October 2004 6 years, 1 month, 11 days 3 July 1939 –
4 István Hiller 16 October 2004 24 February 2007 2 years, 4 months, 8 days 7 May 1964 –
5 Ferenc Gyurcsány 24 February 2007 5 April 2009 2 years, 1 month, 12 days 4 June 1961 –
6 Ildikó Lendvai 5 April 2009 10 July 2010 1 year, 3 months, 5 days 20 July 1946 –
7 Attila Mesterházy 10 July 2010 29 May 2014 3 years, 10 months, 19 days 30 January 1974 –
László Botka
31 May 2014 19 July 2014 49 days 21 February 1973 –
8 József Tóbiás 19 July 2014 25 June 2016 1 year, 11 months and 6 days 15 July 1970 –
9 Gyula Molnár 25 June 2016 Incumbent 5 months and 13 days 14 August 1961 –

Election results

National Assembly

Election year National Assembly Government
# of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
1990 419,152
10.9% (#4)
33 / 386
in opposition
1994 2,921,039
33.0% (#1)
209 / 386
Increase 176 in government
1998 1,497,231
32.9% (#2)
134 / 386
Decrease 75 in opposition
2002 2,361,997
42.0% (#1)
178 / 386
Increase 44 in government
2006 2,336,705
43.2% (#1)
190 / 386
Increase 12 in government
2010 990,428
19.3% (#2)
59 / 386
Decrease 131 in opposition
20141 1,290,806
25.67% (#2)
29 / 199
Decrease 30 in opposition

1As part of the Unity alliance; MSZP ran together with Together 2014 (E14), Democratic Coalition (DK), Dialogue for Hungary (PM) and Hungarian Liberal Party (MLP).

European Parliament

Election year # of overall votes % of overall vote # of overall seats won +/- Notes
2004 1,054,921 34.3% (#2)
9 / 24
2009 503,140 17.37% (#2)
4 / 22
Decrease 5
2014 252,751 10.9% (#3)
2 / 21
Decrease 2

Single Member Constituencies Voting Consistently for MSZP

The image shows Single Member Constituencies (or SMCs) voting for MSZP in 1998, 2002, 2006 in dark red, while showing SMCs voting for MSZP in 2002 and 2006 in red. The dark red districts are considered the strongest positions of the party.

Most if not all districts shown in dark red and red also voted for MSZP in 1994, a landslide victory for the party. So actually, dark red districts have an even longer uninterrupted voting history of supporting MSZP.

Consequently, MSZP SMCs

See also


  1. Wolfram Nordsieck. "Parties and Elections in Europe". Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  2. Freedom House (24 December 2013). Nations in Transit 2013: Democratization from Central Europe to Eurasia. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 255–. ISBN 978-1-4422-3119-1.
  3. Dimitri Almeida (27 April 2012). The Impact of European Integration on Political Parties: Beyond the Permissive Consensus. CRC Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-136-34039-0. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  4. José Magone (26 August 2010). Contemporary European Politics: A Comparative Introduction. Routledge. p. 456. ISBN 978-0-203-84639-1. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  5. Petr Kopecký; Peter Mair; Maria Spirova (26 July 2012). Party Patronage and Party Government in European Democracies. Oxford University Press. p. 165. ISBN 978-0-19-959937-0.
  6. Igor Guardiancich (21 August 2012). Pension Reforms in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe: From Post-Socialist Transition to the Global Financial Crisis. Routledge. p. 95. ISBN 978-1-136-22595-6.
  7. Bodan Todosijević, "The Hungarian Voter: Left–Right Dimension as a Clue to Policy Preferences" in International Political Science Review (2004), Vol 25, No. 4, p. 421
  8. Bodan Todosijević"The Hungarian Voter: Left–Right Dimension as a Clue to Policy Preferences" in International Political Science Review (2004), Vol 25, No. 4, p. 424
  9. Kulish, Nicholas (22 March 2009). "Hungary's Premier Offers to Resign". The New York Times.
  10. "Hungarian PM offers to step down". Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  11. Edith Balazs and Charles Forelle (31 March 2009). "Hungary's Ruling Party Picks Premier". WSJ. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  12. "Hungary's PM resigns post as Socialist Party chairman_English_Xinhua". Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  13. "Mesterházy lett az MSZP elnöke". VG. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  14. "Gyurcsány announces departure from Socialists, formation of new "Western, civic center-left" party". Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  15. "Socialists to delegate PM candidate for opposition alliance". 8 January 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  16. "Egyetlen ábrán megnézheti az MSZP tragédiáját". 25 May 2014. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  17. "Mesterházy: Újabb leckét kaptunk". 25 May 2014. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  18. "Mesterházy lemondott az MSZP vezetéséről". 29 May 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  19. "Participants". Retrieved 14 February 2015.
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