Hungarian Democratic Forum was formed in 1987 as an organization opposed to the communist regime. For two years MDF was the main negotiator of regime change and after the fall of the one party system MDF emerged as the most popular political party. Under the leadership of József Antall the party won the first free general elections, gaining almost a quarter of the vote, and formed a coalition government with FKgP and KDNP. However in the following three years two major blows hit the party. First, the death of its chairman Antall in 1993 was followed by internal conflict between the moderate and nationalist wings of the party. This struggle led to the expulsion of the nationalists from the party. In 1994 MDF lost the election and almost half of its voters from 1990, and it went into opposition. After four years in government both parties decided to join forces. However, even this cooperation was not sufficient and the coalition comprising Fidesz-MPP and MDF lost theelection to MSzP. In the new parliament 24 deputies from MDF formed a separate and independent group. In the general election of 2006 the party once again ran alone and managed to just pass the required 5% threshold, securing eleven seats in the parliament. Similarly MDF succeeded in the European election of 2009. However, one year later it failed to get even 5% of the vote and with 2.7% hence lost its parliamentary status.
Election manifesto 2006
The MDF electoral program for the elections of 2006 focused extensively on the strengthening of the Hungarian identity and the reuniting of the Hungarian nation within and also across borders. The main focus of the manifesto was the Hungarian nation defined by its culture and historical heritage and without regard to borders. In this respect a special and crucial role was played by the distinctive Hungarian identity which was shaped by the 1,000 year tradition of Hungarian statehood. During that time the common interests and values shared by all Hungarians were created. Very important in this respect was the Christian tradition which was embraced by the Hungarian nation. The manifesto quotes the first chairman of the MDF and the former prime minister of Hungary, Józseff Antall, who is alleged to have said on his deathbed that he wants a Christian Hungary in order that it has a future. In accordance with his wish, MDF did not understand a secular state either as an atheist or a religiously neutral state. Its manifesto declared that MDF will cooperate with the Christian churches as is natural for a Hungarian party. From the crucial and strategic role of the Hungarian identity and cultural heritage stems the state’s duty to take care of the national culture and to create such conditions that it will be further nourished and grows. Among these conditions, the manifesto explicitly mentions the key role of the public media. State broadcasters should spread so-called new and old Hungarian values and they should also facilitate “intellectual and emotional comprehension” of both the Hungarian and European identity of the Hungarians. Alongside the above-mentioned policies and attitudes, the MDF manifesto also praised the modern values of equality, human rights and tolerance. The national media should inform about the rights of the citizens and spread tolerance in society. MDF viewed cultural diversity and the free competition of lifestyles and identities positively. However, while stressing these values, the attitude of the party towards immigration and refugees seemed to contradict these values. MDF suggested that the best form of immigration policy in Hungary would be a firm but human one.
Election manifesto 2010
The MDF manifesto for the election of 2010 differs greatly from the previous one. It still refers to national identity and community, which is of great value and should be nourished and protected. For MDF, Hungary equated to dignity and it still deserved it. In the understanding of MDF, the nation remained the same community as it was in the 2006 manifesto. However in the 2010 manifesto MDF emphasized this identity moment of its program much less and, on the contrary, it was much more eager to stress the cooperation of all the elements from across Hungarian society. It called for a unity of “nation and citizens” within Hungary. This call was partly the result of what MDF perceived as a national crisis caused by eight years of socialist rule coupled with the global economic crisis. Its manifesto and program was supposed to give back dignity and self-confidence to the citizens and the nation. In 2010 MDF also advocated programs oriented at the inclusion of the Roma population into society. Its manifesto also emphasised social inclusion, equality and anti-discrimination.