Hungarian Socialist Party was established in 1989 formally as a completely new party in the wake of the new democratic history of Hungarian politics. However, MSzP was in fact formed by the former members of the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party which dissolved itself at the very same convention. In the first free elections to the Hungarian parliament in 1990 the Socialists were the victims of their communistic roots and the party received just 10% of the vote. However, four years laters and under the leadership of Gyula Horn, MSzP gained one third of the vote and formed a coalition government with the liberal SzDSz which happened to be the most vigorous enemy of MSzP in the revolution year of 1989. Horn’s cabinet realized many socially painful policies and pushed forward the economic transformation of Hungary. These much needed policies however led to electoral defeat for the Socialists in the 1998 general election by the liberal-conservative Fidesz-MPP in 1998. MSzP fully transformed itself from a post-communist party and became a mainstream social-democratic party. This achievement can be illustrated by its membership of the Socialist International and the Party of European Socialists. In 2009 Gyurscány finally stepped down from both the premiership and chairmanship of MSzP. By this time SzDSz had aleady left the coalition. The MSzP politician Gordon Bajnai took over as head of the government until the general election of 2010 in an effort to restore the party's good name. However in the elections the Socialists received only 20% of the vote and went into opposition. In 2010 Attila Mesterházy became the chairman of the party.
Election manifesto 2006
For MSzP the central referential subject of the political program was the national community. In the opinion of the Socialists, one of the most important roles of the government was to protect the national interest of the Hungarian nation. Nation in this context was understood as the community of Hungarians at home and abroad. All those who spoke Hungarian and embraced Hungarian cultural heritage are part of the nation. For the Socialists there was a distinct Hungarian identity which was present in each Hungarian. This identity deserved protection and moreover should be supported and cultivated for the future. It was of great importance to ensure the continuation of the nation and, especially, of its distinctive identity. MszP, for example, stressed the need for a higher birth rate. National identity was not obtained by right of birth but rather as a result of acculturation. From that acculturation came affiliation to the national body. Consequently, Hungary as a state should take responsibility not just for Hungarian citizens but also for Hungarians living in foreign countries – especially those who resided in neighbouring countries. On several occasions the manifesto stressed this conviction and it went even so far as to suggest that Hungary should support the autonomy claims of Hungarian minorities in foreign countries. All this at the same time as calling for improvements in relations with those very same countries. In balancing these two goals of the manifesto, the EU proved to be crucial. According to MszP, the EU and its policies are helping foreign Hungarians and they also facilitate the reunification of the divided Hungarian nation.
Election manifesto 2010
In many places the manifesto admitted the mistakes of the previous socialist governments and also the poor state of the economy, but it also warned against the simple solutions of the far right. MSzP feared that the authoritative tendencies of the right would undermine democracy in Hungary. The Socialists referred to national pride and patriotism but pointed out that these true and legitimate values are perverted by extremists and possibly will be used by them to grasp power in the country in order to push forward policies which will spread hatred and will eventually lead to discriminatory policies and the rejection of liberal and democratic values. To tackle the problems Hungary had faced, MSzP suggested the cooperation of all elements of Hungarian society without regard to ethnicity, religion, social status or political affiliation. The Socialists rejected the idea that there is an evil side and a true Hungarian side in Hungarian political life. On the contrary, their goal was to empowe the excluded and marginalized of the country. That is why the manifesto dealt with the protection of minority rights, especially those of Roma people who were systematically discriminated against. MSzP considered it to be a national shame that it is impossible for some people to get out of social deprivation and that their children are, from birth, condemned to a similar life. For MszP, Roma were not to be treated as burdens on the shoulders of Hungarian society. The manifesto of 2010 described them as fellow citizens and really tried to treat them like that. Finally the MSzP manifesto for the elections of 2010 criticized the tendencies of the Hungarian right to close itself off from the world and from Europe. For the Socialists it was of crucial importance to strengthen European cooperation, especially in a time of crisis. It also called for improvement of relations with neighbouring countries which were threatened by the policies suggested by the political right. Hungary should cultivate it relations with the outside world, especially in the European context, in order to again become a stable partner and a prosperous democracy. In this respect, we did not detect any attempts to suggest meddling in the internal affairs of those countries with significant Hungarian minorities, as was the case in the 2006 manifesto.