Alliance of Free Democrats: Wikis


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Alliance of Free Democrats – the Hungarian Liberal Party
Szabad Demokraták Szövetsége – a Magyar Liberális Párt
Leader Attila Retkes
Founded 13 November 1988
Headquarters 1143 Budapest, XIV. Gizella utca 36.
Ideology Liberalism
International affiliation Liberal International
European affiliation European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party
European Parliament Group Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (2004-2009)
Official colours Blue
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The Alliance of Free Democrats – Hungarian Liberal Party (Hungarian: Szabad Demokraták Szövetsége – a Magyar Liberális Párt, abbreviation SZDSZ) is a liberal party in Hungary, led since July 2009 by Attila Retkes (and previously by Gábor Fodor). The SZDSZ is a member of the ELDR and of Liberal International. It draws its support predominantly from Budapest among the middle classes, liberal intellectuals and entrepreneurs.

Its origins lie in the illegal Democratic Opposition under the communist Kádár regime. This gave rise to the loosely organized Network of Free Initiatives (Szabad Kezdeményezések Hálózata) on May 1, 1988 and to the foundation of the SZDSZ as an opposition political party on November 13 1988. The party initially suggesting a radical agenda for changing the political, social and economic system in the country. It suffered a close defeat at the first free general elections of the Third Republic in 1990, thus becoming the leading opposition force in the first free Parliament. After the fall of the conservative government at the following 1994 elections, SZDSZ surprised many by entering into a coalition with the socialist party MSZP, legal successors to the communists MSZMP. Thus began a strategic alliance between the two parties that lasted for 14 years, ending only in 2008.

The heyday of the SZDSZ may be thought to have ended when it suffered heavy losses in the 1998 general elections. In 2002, it gained only 5.5% of the vote, returning 20 deputies to Parliament. Until its withdrawal from the coalition in May 2008, the SZDSZ had three portfolios. It also has a delegation in the European Parliament, receiving 7.7% of the Hungarian vote and two members in the 2004 European Parliamentary Election.

In the 2006 elections, it gained no directly elected seats, but 6.5% of the list votes, thus securing 20 members in Hungary's 386-seat Parliament. (This was the first time that the party managed to increase its support compared with a previous general election.) The MSZP-SZDSZ coalition had a small majority in the new Parliament.

On March 31, 2008, various reform-related disagreements between the MSZP and SZDSZ led the SZDSZ leader János Kóka to announce that his party would quit the coalition by May 1, 2008.[1] This also meant that the MSZP would have to form the first minority government in Hungary since the change of system.

However, the legitimacy of János Kóka's position as party president became questioned when it was discovered that some signatures of the delegates to the assembly electing him had been forged. Since he had won his position by a very small margin over Gábor Fodor, these votes might have changed the outcome. So a new leadership election was held in June [2] and Gábor Fodor was returned.

SZDSZ provided the first freely elected President of the Third Hungarian Republic, Árpád Göncz. The SZDSZ High Mayor of Budapest, Gábor Demszky has been in office continuously since 1990.

In the 2009 June 7 EU parliamentary elections SZDSZ was essentially destroyed by the voters, having won no seats and earning just 2,16% of the total votes, less than half of the minimum 5% needed to secure representation. The party did not even receive 5% in the capital Budapest, its traditional stronghold. Party president Gábor Fodor offered his resignation as soon as the official tally was announced at 10:00 pm.


Parliamentary representation

year seat percentage seats popular votes status
1990 23.83% 92 1,168,234 opposition
1994 17.88% 69 965,401 government
1998 6.22% 24 344,352 opposition
2002 5.18% 20 313,084 government
2006 5.18% 20 351,612 government
2008 COALITION BROKE UP 20 opposition

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