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County and District Government


City hall in Gyor
Courtesy Gustav Forster

In 1989 district government resembled that on the national level: a popularly elected local council chose an executive to administer the affairs of its jurisdiction. Communes (kozseg), large communes (nagykozseg), cities, and districts of Budapest elected councils on this level. District councils elected the county-level councils, which also chose an executive.

The councils served as legislatures for their jurisdictions, while a chairman and an executive committee, elected from the ranks, carried out the actual administration of government activities. The executive committee on the county level supervised the work of the executive committee on the district level. In turn, the Council of Ministers directed the work of the county executive committees. The chairmen of the county and district councils sat on the corresponding executive committees of the HSWP (see Party Structure , this ch.).

Executive committees on each level had their own administrative apparatus made up of specialized departments to manage government activities in their jurisdiction. Within their sphere of influence, the executive committees could appoint and remove the directors of branch organizations administering these services. However, these personnel decisions required approval by the executive committee at the county level or by the Council of Ministers. In addition, when the executive committee appointed local officials, it had to take into account the standards established for those positions by the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers also had the right to submit its own nominees for positions in the district and county administrations (see Council of Ministers , this ch.).

District and county government dealt with services that had the most immediate impact on the lives of the citizenry: education, housing, day care facilities, and medical care. In the late 1980s, the local government had jurisdiction over 90 percent of the preschool and day care facilities, all general (elementary) schools, most middle schools, 90 percent of government-owned housing, 80 percent of the hospital beds, and 70 percent of the libraries, theaters, and educational centers. The national government had direct control over areas such as railroads, waterways, postal and fire services, and communications. Local councils also had some power in passing a budget for their jurisdiction and to manage its execution.

In the late 1980s, county and district government had relatively large authority in managing the local economy. About 14,000 enterprises and firms meeting the needs of the local population were under their jurisdiction. The law allowed local governments to create these enterprises. The national government also permitted local government to approve the plans of these enterprises, which functioned mainly in the service sector.

Since 1983 multicandidate elections to the district councils have been mandatory. In the 1985 elections, an estimated 88,000 candidates competed for the 42,734 district seats. About 5.4 percent of district constituencies had triple candidacies, and 0.2 percent had quadruple candidacies. Reports of the nomination meetings indicated an average participation of from 200 to 400 people, a very small fraction of the approximately 30,000 people per district. In addition, problems emerged in many districts. In Bacs-Kiskun County, the organizers combined the meetings of the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth council districts and allowed them to vote jointly for each other's nominees. The PPF nullified the results. In Budapest two different constituencies nominated the same person. In 102 districts, the nominating meetings had to be repeated.

Data as of September 1989

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