For the first time since the fall of Communism, a national election in Hungary is not being followed by a change of government. Eszter points to a useful graphic from NÃ©pszabadsÃ¡g, a Bdapest daily newspaper, that shows the compositions of all of Hungary’s post-1989 parliaments. There’s an ebb and flow of parties (particularly the growth of the former youth party into the largest conservatice party), occasional independent membes and a gradual consolidation into the present four parliamentary parties. There’s also a change of government after every election. Not this time.
And I think this is important, because throwing the bums out has been such a constant refrain of post-Communist politics in much of Central and Eastern Europe. In the beginning of the transition, politics promised redemption, which was clearly more than it could deliver. It also promised prosperity, which has come for some, but is also very difficult to deliver over a short period of time. So there were large reasons to vote for change whenever the opportunity presented itself. (Not least of these was the simple fact that, after 40 or 70 years, the could vote for change, and change would come.) Interests and scandals provided an ample number of smaller reasons as well. Thus the overall trend in the region of national elections followed by a change of government. I am sure that there are cases where this did not happened, but I can’t think of any.
By re-electing the coalition of MSZP (socialist, post-Communist) and SZDSZ (liberal, with dissident roots), Hungarians have bucked the trend–or maybe started a new one. Firmly ensconced in NATO and the EU, the country is settling into normal European politics. Which, considering Hungary’s history, must be a relief.