Full Citation

  • Title Hungary: A Good Start
  • Author The Washington Post
  • Publication Title International Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Collection International Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Date Monday,  June 19, 1989
  • Issue Number 33068
  • Page Number 8
  • Place of Publication Paris, France
  • Language English
  • Document Type Editorial
  • Publication Section Opinion and Editorial
  • Source Library The New York Times Company
Hungary: A Good Start Hungary’s Communists have now opened negotiations with the emerging op¬ position parties over an election law. It is another remarkable stage in the political evolution of Eastern Europe. Under this law, the Hungarians expect to hold open elections by the middle of next year. In Poland it was the emergence of a powerful opposition movement, Solidarity, outside the law that pushed the government toward the elections held there this month. The process is a bit different in Hungary. There the reform wing of the Communist Party itself is the engine driving the country toward free elections, and the tension be¬ tween the party’s reformers and its conser¬ vatives is likely to dominate these negotia¬ tions for the present. The opposition com¬ prises nine embryo parties, none of which has yet gained any great standing in the country. One purpose of the electoral bill now under debate is to provide them with legal status and, not incidentally, financing. It is the urgent, and widely recognized, need for better economic performance that is pushing Hungary in the direction of de¬ mocracy. Hungary has been experimenting longer and more extensively than other East European countries with economic decen¬ tralization and the rules of the market. The Hungarians have gone far enough to know that they cannot achieve the kind of econo¬ my they want without a parallel movement toward political pluralism. The government is deliberately encouraging and supporting the opposition parties in the hope of bring¬ ing the principle of open competition into politics as well as economics. There are rough passages ahead for the economic changes so crucial to Hungary’s future prosperity. After 40 years of commu¬ nism people have become accustomed to the heavy subsidies of common goods and services. They are accustomed to employ¬ ment that is secure regardless of perfor¬ mance; the idea that some enterprises might be allowed to fail and jobs evaporate is not a welcome one. Even before the upheaval in China, the Hungarian reformers under¬ stood that their plans were not likely to get much further without generating strong po¬ litical reactions. The purpose of the election law will be to keep the reactions peaceful and to provide legitimate representation for the inevitable fears and grievances. Hungary is only at the beginning of the great enterprise of changing die fundamen¬ tal nature of its government. But that begin¬ ning is a promising one. — THE WASHINGTON POST.