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Hungary

Hungary Government Stats

Profile:

Mr Orban, whose right-wing Fidesz party won a two-thirds majority in parliament in April 2010, had previously served as prime minister from 1998 to 2002.

Fidesz's landslide election victory has allowed it to push through a number of radical legislative changes.

On coming to power, Mr Orban promised firm but moderate government, and sought to distance Fidesz from the far-right Jobbik party, which entered parliament for the first time.

Fidesz pledged to cut taxes, curb tax evasion, create jobs and reduce state bureaucracy. Mr Orban made an immediate start by pruning the number of ministries to eight - leaving him with the smallest cabinet in the post-communist era.

His biggest challenge was posed by Hungary's severe public debt problem, and he proceeded to tackle this with what the government itself describes as an "unorthodox" economic policy.

This policy includes high taxes on banks and multinationals, the nationalisation of private pension funds and frequent verbal attacks on the IMF and European Union.

Mr Orban's government also took steps to curb the independence of the Hungarian National Bank.

Tense relations with IMF, EU

Mr Orban's dealings with international financial institutions have been fraught with tension. He initially ruled out renewing the IMF-led loan that rescued Hungary from financial collapse in 2008, to avoid giving the organisation too much say over his government's economic policy.

Hungary reopened talks with the IMF in November 2011 with the aim of securing a credit lifeline. The IMF cut short these talks after only a few weeks, citing concerns over the independence of the Hungarian National Bank.

Hungary agreed to make some changes to the central bank law in April 2012, and the European Commission said that this would allow negotiations over a 15bn-euro (£12bn) bailout package with the IMF to resume.

However, in September 2012 Mr Orban rejected the terms of the IMF loan, saying that these were not in Hungary's interests and that his government would come up with alternative proposals.

The following month, in a speech delivered on the anniversary of the failed 1956 revolution, Mr Orban criticised the EU for interfering in Hungary's domestic affairs.

He maintains that his government's radical policies have prevented the Hungarian economy from collapsing and have reduced the country's debt.

And indeed, Hungary's success in bringing its budget deficit down to below the permitted EU threshold of 3% and the country's emergence from recession in early 2013 appeared to indicate that these policies had had the desired effect.

However, some of Mr Orban's more populist economic policies - for example, a move to make foreign-owned banks bear the consequences of Hungarian borrowers' inability to pay back loans denominated in foreign currencies - have encountered domestic opposition. In December 2013, the Hungarian Supreme Court blocked the government's attempt to make the banks shoulder the losses on such loans, which many Hungarians took out before the 2008 financial crisis.

Democratic concerns

On the political front, a media law introduced in January 2011 was widely criticised at home and abroad for undermining media freedoms. The EU said that amendments to the media law passed in May 2012 failed to address concerns over the political independence of Hungary's Media Authority, and it called on the Hungarian government to do more to ensure media pluralism.

At the beginning of 2012, Mr Orban's government introduced a new constitution to replace the one drafted in 1989, when Hungary was emerging from 40 years of communist rule. Mr Orban insists that a new constitution was necessary in order to complete the work of eradicating the legacy of communism, but critics point out that some of the checks and balances that are essential for the functioning of a democracy have been removed, and that the state apparatus is now permanently tilted in favour of the current ruling party.

The Fidesz government has also been criticised for its failure to combat right-wing extremism and hate speech, after little was done to prevent members of the far-right Jobbik party from making inflammatory anti-Roma and anti-Jewish comments.

The next parliamentary election, scheduled for 6 April 2014, is widely being seen as a test of the extent to which the Hungarian electorate approves of Mr Orban's populist policies, or whether charges of the erosion of democracy and an increasingly polarised society under Fidesz will play to the advantage of the left-of-centre opposition.

Definitions

  • Administrative divisions: This entry generally gives the numbers, designatory terms, and first-order administrative divisions as approved by the US Board on Geographic Names (BGN). Changes that have been reported but not yet acted on by BGN are noted.
  • Capital city > Geographic coordinates: This entry gives the name of the seat of government, its geographic coordinates, the time difference relative to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and the time observed in Washington, DC, and, if applicable, information on daylight saving time (DST). Where appropriate, a special note has been added to highlight those countries that have multiple time zones.
  • Constitution: The dates of adoption, revisions, and major amendments to a nation's constitution
  • Diplomatic representation from the US > Mailing address: This entry includes the chief of mission, embassy address, mailing address, telephone number, FAX number, branch office locations, consulate general locations, and consulate locations.
  • Executive branch > Cabinet: Cabinet includes the official name for any body of high-ranking advisers roughly comparable to a U.S. Cabinet. Also notes the method for selection of members.
  • Executive branch > Head of government: Head of government includes the name and title of the top administrative leader who is designated to manage the day-to-day activities of the government. For example, in the UK, the monarch is the chief of state, and the prime minister is the head of government. In the US, the president is both the chief of state and the head of government.
  • Government type: A description of the basic form of government (e.g., republic, constitutional monarchy, federal republic, parliamentary democracy, military dictatorship).
  • Independence: For most countries, this entry gives the date that sovereignty was achieved and from which nation, empire, or trusteeship. For the other countries, the date given may not represent "independence" in the strict sense, but rather some significant nationhood event such as the traditional founding date or the date of unification, federation, confederation, establishment, fundamental change in the form of government, or state succession. Dependent areas include the notation "none" followed by the nature of their dependency status. "
  • International organization participation: This entry lists in alphabetical order by abbreviation those international organizations in which the subject country is a member or participates in some other way.
  • Judicial branch: The name(s) of the highest court(s) and a brief description of the selection process for members.
  • Legal system: A brief description of the legal system's historical roots, role in government, and acceptance of International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction.
  • Legislative branch: This entry contains information on the structure (unicameral, bicameral, tricameral), formal name, number of seats, and term of office. Elections includes the nature of election process or accession to power, date of the last election, and date of the next election. Election results includes the percent of vote and/or number of seats held by each party in the last election.
  • Political parties and leaders: Significant political organizations and their leaders.
  • Political pressure groups and leaders: Organizations with leaders involved in politics, but not standing for legislative election.
  • Suffrage: The age at enfranchisement and whether the right to vote is universal or restricted
STAT AMOUNT DATE RANK HISTORY
Administrative divisions 19 counties (megyek, singular - megye), 23 urban counties (singular - megyei varos), and 1 capital city (fovaros)
counties: Bacs-Kiskun, Baranya, Bekes, Borsod-Abauj-Zemplen, Csongrad, Fejer, Gyor-Moson-Sopron, Hajdu-Bihar, Heves, Jasz-Nagykun-Szolnok, Komarom-Esztergom, Nograd, Pest, Somogy, Szabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg, Tolna, Vas, Veszprem, Zala
urban counties: Bekescsaba, Debrecen, Dunaujvaros, Eger, Erd, Gyor, Hodmezovasarhely, Kaposvar, Kecskemet, Miskolc, Nagykanizsa, Nyiregyhaza, Pecs, Salgotarjan, Sopron, Szeged, Szekesfehervar, Szekszard, Szolnok, Szombathely, Tatabanya, Veszprem, Zalaegerszeg
capital city: Budapest
2013
Capital city > Geographic coordinates 47 2011
Constitution previous 1949 (heavily amended in 1989 following collapse of communism); latest approved 18 April 2011, signed 25 April 2011, effective 1 January 2012; amended several times, last in 2013 2013
Diplomatic representation from the US > Mailing address pouch: American Embassy Budapest, 5270 Budapest Place, US Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-5270 2013
Executive branch > Cabinet Cabinet of Ministers prime minister elected by the National Assembly on the recommendation of the president; other ministers proposed by the prime minister and appointed and relieved of their duties by the president 2013
Executive branch > Head of government Prime Minister Viktor ORBAN (since 29 May 2010) 2013
Government type parliamentary democracy 2013
Independence 16 November 1918 (republic proclaimed); notable earlier dates: 25 December 1000 (crowning of King STEPHEN I, traditional founding date); 30 March 1867 (Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy established) 2013
International organization participation Australia Group, BIS, CD, CE, CEI, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, ESA (cooperating state), EU, FAO, G-9, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MINURSO, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, Schengen Convention, SELEC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC 2013
Judicial branch Constitutional Court (judges are elected by the National Assembly for nine-year terms); Curia (highest court; head of Curia elected by National Assembly, the other judges elected by the president on recommendation of the head of the National Office of the Courts, a separate administrative body); Regional Courts of Appeal (judges are appointed by the president) 2012
Legal system civil legal system influenced by the German model 2013
Legislative branch unicameral National Assembly or Orszaggyules 2011
Political parties and leaders Christian Democratic People's Party or KDNP [Zsolt SEMJEN]
Democratic Coalition [Ferenc GYURCSANY]
Dialogue for Hungary [Benedek JAVOR, Timea SZABO, co-chairs]
Fidesz-Hungarian Civic Alliance or Fidesz [Viktor ORBAN, chairman]
Hungarian Socialist Party or MSZP [Attila MESTERHAZY]
Movement for a Better Hungary or Jobbik [Gabor VONA]
Politics Can Be Different or LMP [13-member leadership; some positions currently vacant]
2013
Political pressure groups and leaders Air Work Group (works to reduce air pollution in towns and cities)
Danube Circle (protests the building of the Gabchikovo-Nagymaros dam)
Fourth Republic (Negyedik Koztarsasag) or 4K! (anti-Orban, pro-democracy Facebook movement emerged from a Facebook group, One Million for Freedom of the Press or "Milla," and plans to form a leftist political party)
Green Future (protests the impact of lead contamination of local factory on health of the people)
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (Tarsasag a Szabadsagjogokert) or TASZ (freedom of expression, information privacy)
Hungarian Helsinki Committee (asylum seekers' rights, human rights in law enforcement and the judicial system)
Szolidaritas ("Solidarity," formed in October 2011 by three trade unions and an NGO - anti-Orban government)
"Egyutt 2014" ("Together 2014," a political electoral alliance bringing together Milla, Szolidaritas, and "Haza es Haladas," an association headed by former PM Gordon BAJNAI, to contest Fidesz and Viktor ORBAN in the 2014 parliamentary elections)
Civil Osszefogas Forum ("Civil Unity Forum," nominally independent organization that serves as pro-government mass organization, supporting ORBAN government's policies)

environmentalists:
Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Conservation Society (Magyar Madartani Egyesulet) or MME
Green Alternative (Zold Alternativa)
2013
Suffrage 18 years of age, 16 if married; universal 2013

SOURCES: CIA World Factbooks 18 December 2003 to 28 March 2011

Citation

"Hungary Government Stats", NationMaster. Retrieved from http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/Hungary/Government