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Alliance of Free Democrats – the Hungarian Liberal Party
Szabad Demokraták Szövetsége – a Magyar Liberális Párt
First leaderJános Kis
Last leaderViktor Szabadai
Founded13 November 1988
Dissolved30 October 2013
Headquarters1143 Budapest, XIV. Gizella utca 36.
Political positionCentre
European affiliationAlliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe[2]
International affiliationLiberal International[2]
European Parliament groupAlliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (2004–2009)
Colours  Blue
Website (in Hungarian; as of October 2012, home page offered link to English module)

The Alliance of Free Democrats – Hungarian Liberal Party (Hungarian: Szabad Demokraták Szövetsége – a Magyar Liberális Párt, SZDSZ) was a liberal[1][2][3][4] political party in Hungary.

The SZDSZ was a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party[2] and of Liberal International.[2] It drew its support predominantly from Budapest among the middle classes, liberal intellectuals and entrepreneurs, with an ideological basis in social[1] and economic liberalism.[5] SZDSZ provided the first freely elected President for the Third Hungarian Republic, Árpád Göncz. The SZDSZ High Mayor of Budapest, Gábor Demszky was in office continuously since 1990 till 2010, when he was replaced by István Tarlós (who himself was a member of SZDSZ in the 1990s).


The party's origins lay in the illegal democratic opposition under the communist rule of János Kádár. This gave rise to the loosely organized Network of Free Initiatives (Szabad Kezdeményezések Hálózata) on 1 May 1988 and to the foundation of the SZDSZ as an opposition political party on 13 November 1988. Its founding leaders included János Kis, Márton Tardos, Gáspár Miklós Tamás, and Miklós Haraszti.[6]

The party initially suggested 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 National Assembly (Hungary's parliament).

After the fall of the conservative Hungarian Democratic Forum-led government at the following 1994 parliamentary election, SZDSZ surprised many by entering into a coalition with the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), the legal successor party to the communist Hungarian Socialist Workers Party. Thus began a strategic alliance between the two parties that lasted for 14 years, ending only in 2008. The coalition successfully defeated Orbán's Fidesz in 1994, 2002 and 2006.

The heyday of the SZDSZ may be thought to have ended when it suffered heavy losses in the 1998 parliamentary election. In 2002 parliamentary election, it gained only 5.5 percent of the vote, returning 20 deputies to the National Assembly.

Until its withdrawal from the coalition in May 2008, the SZDSZ had three portfolios. It also had a delegation in the European Parliament, receiving 7.7 percent of the Hungarian vote and two MEPs in the 2004 European Parliament election.

In the 2006 parliamentary election, it gained no directly elected seats, but 6.5 percent of the list votes, thus securing 20 members in Hungary's 386-seat National Assembly. 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 National Assembly intake.

On 31 March 2008, various reform-related disagreements between the MSZP and SZDSZ led the SZDSZ leader János Kóka to announce that his party would exit the coalition by 1 May 2008.[7] This also meant that the MSZP would have to form the first minority government in Hungary since the change of regime in 1989.

However, the legitimacy of 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 Fodor, these votes might have changed the outcome. So a new leadership election was held in June[8] and Fodor was returned.

In the 2009 European Parliament election, SZDSZ retained none of its seats with just 2.2 percent of the total vote, less than half of the minimum five percent needed to secure representation. The party did not even receive five percent in Budapest, its traditional stronghold. Party president Fodor offered his resignation as soon as the official tally was announced at 10:00 p.m.

In the 2010 parliamentary election, SZDSZ won only 0.25 percent of the vote and was shut out of the legislature altogether for the first time since the change of regime. The party was even unable to gain parliamentary seats in Budapest. The Alliance of Free Democrats officially ceased to exist in October 2013.[9][10] A few months prior their official dissolution the Hungarian Liberal Party was formed.[11]

Political positions

The party has been described as fiscally moderate and socially compassionate. It supported same-sex marriage, euthanasia, the legalization of marijuana, higher taxes on corporations and the top 1%, lower taxes for the working class and middle class, creation of a universal basic income, increasing the minimum wage, stronger borders and eliminating illegal immigration, increasing legal immigration by 2% and ending compulsory military service.

Election results

National Assembly

Election Votes Seats Rank Government Prime Minister
# % ±pp # +/−
1990 1,050,452 21.4%
94 / 386
±0 2nd in opposition János Kis
1994 1,066,074 19.7% Decrease1.7
70 / 386
Decrease 24 2nd MSZP-SZDSZ Supermajority Iván Pető
1998 353,186 7.88% Decrease11.82
24 / 386
Decrease 46 4th in opposition Gábor Kuncze
2002 313,084 5.57% Decrease2.31
20 / 386
Decrease 4 3rd MSZP-SZDSZ Majority Gábor Kuncze
2006 351,612 6.5% Increase0.93
20 / 386
Steady 0 3rd MSZP-SZDSZ Majority (until 2008) Gábor Kuncze
20101 12,652 0.25% Decrease6.25
0 / 386
Decrease 20 8th extra-parliamentary

1 10 joint candidates with the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF).

European Parliament

Election year # of overall votes % of overall vote # of overall seats won +/- Notes
2004 237,908 7.77% (3rd)
2 / 24
2009 62,527 2.16% (6th)
0 / 22
Decrease 2

Party leaders

See also


  1. ^ a b c Hloušek, Vít; Kopeček, Lubomír (2010), Origin, Ideology and Transformation of Political Parties: East-Central and Western Europe Compared, Ashgate, p. 115
  2. ^ a b c d e f Nordsieck, Wolfram (2010). "Hungary". Parties and Elections in Europe. Archived from the original on 27 July 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b José Magone (2010). Contemporary European Politics: A Comparative Introduction. Routledge. p. 456. ISBN 978-0-203-84639-1.
  4. ^ a b Paul G. Lewis (2000). Political Parties in Post-Communist Eastern Europe. Routledge. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-415-20182-7.
  5. ^ Szarvas, Lászlo (1995), "Parties and Party Factions in the Hungarian Parliament", Hungary, Frank Cass & Co., p. 121
  6. ^ Bohlen, Celestine (25 March 1990). "UPHEAVAL IN THE EAST; A Democratically Evolving Hungary Heads into Unknown at Polls Today". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  7. ^ Szakacs, Gergely; Chance, David (31 March 2008). "Hungary's governing coalition to break up". Reuters. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  8. ^ "SZDSZ-tisztújító június 7-én". Népszabadság Online (in Hungarian). 11 April 2008. Archived from the original on 15 April 2008.
  9. ^ Megszűnhet az SZDSZ, Origo, 2013. július 25.
  10. ^ Johnné Rósenblüth Erzsébet lemondott, ősszel megszűnhet az SZDSZ, ATV, 2013. július 25.
  11. ^ "Hová tűnt a kvázi kis SZDSZ?". Mandiner (in Hungarian). 17 March 2024. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  12. ^ [clarification needed] Staff (16 July 2010). "Újra van elnöke az SZDSZ-nek – Szabadai Viktor az új ügyvezető elnök". Népszava (in Hungarian). Archived from the original on 16 August 2017. Retrieved 5 October 2012.