Hungary Table of Contents
The Central Committee nominally elects the membership of the Politburo, which directs party activity between plenums of the Central Committee. The Politburo consisted of the country's most powerful political leaders; its members occupied the most important positions in the party, government, and mass organizations. In early 1989, Politburo membership included Grosz, the general secretary; Janos Berecz, the party's leading ideologist; Istvan Szabo, an agricultural specialist; Csaba Hamori, the chairman of the Central Committee's Youth Committee; Janos Lukacs, Central Committee secretary for party organization; Pal Ivanyi, Central Committee secretary for economic policy; Miklos Nemeth, the chairman of the Council of Ministers; and other government and economic administrators. Each Politburo member had responsibility that often overlapped with an area managed by a government ministry.
The Politburo usually met once a week to address the country's foreign, military, economic, and domestic policies. The Politburo conducted its meetings in secret, although it often invited other members of the party, government, and mass organizations to attend. The general secretary chaired the meeting, and decisions appeared to be reached by consensus. The Politburo informed Central Committee plenums about the issues discussed at these weekly meetings.
Traditionally, succession to the position of general secretary has presented problems for the political elite. No institutionalized procedures governed the transfer of power from one general secretary to the next. And in the late 1980s, the general secretary did not have a set term of office. The general secretary had to secure power by promoting trusted clients to positions of power and influence within other leading party, government, and state institutions. Like other Soviet satellite parties in Eastern Europe, the HSWP Politburo usually gained prior Soviet approval for the appointment of its general secretary. The general secretary also required continued Soviet support to remain in office. Thereafter, the general secretary had to establish his authority by generating successful economic, social, and foreign policies. Kadar accomplished all these objectives, and he remained in the post of general secretary from 1956 to 1988. However, when the leadership deemed Kadar too conservative to push forward further economic and political reforms, it ousted him in favor of Grosz, having gained Soviet approval to do so.
Data as of September 1989