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Hungary Table of Contents



Figure 9. Structure of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party, 1988

The Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party (HSWP) formed the "revolutionary vanguard of the working class" that "organizes and guides the people in their struggle to construct a Socialist society." The ideology, method of decision making, and structure of the HSWP all derived from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). The method of decision making--democratic centralism--stifled intraparty dissent and secured the control of central party organs over the personnel appointments and the activities of lower party organs.

In the late 1980s, the HSWP was a top-down, centralized organization. In theory, representative party bodies such as the party congress held supreme decision-making authority. In practice, bodies such as the party congress and the Central Committee on the national level and the conference on the county and district levels were too large and met too infrequently to exercise decision-making power (see fig. 9). The Politburo and Secretariat centralized power on the national level, and the party bureaus did so on the county and district rungs of the hierarchy. The Basic Organization, the lowest level on the hierarchy, supervised the activities of rank-and-file members in factories, collective farms, and the armed forces.

The party, aiming to be a monolithic organization, enforced strict discipline on the membership for violating the Party Rules (see Glossary) and for infringing on the norms of democratic centralism. The party also attempted to preserve its elite status within society. Therefore, it was very selective in its recruitment policies. Although originally the self-proclaimed party of the working class, in the late 1980s the intelligentsia predominated in its ranks.

The PPF, a mass organization working under the direction of the party, acted as a "transmission belt" for party policies. As of the late 1980s, it had not yet carved out an independent role for itself in Hungarian politics.

Data as of September 1989