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Reluctant Amateurs Enliven Politics

SANDOR CSOORI is a founder of Hungary's largest opposition movement, the Democratic Forum. But he doesn't think of himself as a politician. ``I'm a poet,'' he scoffs. ``I just want to write - not play - politics.''

His reticence illustrates one of the primary problems facing the Hungarian opposition. It is composed of amateurs, mostly intellectuals with no political experience. Thrown into the political arena almost against their will, they often find it hard to organize effective political movements.

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The academic politicians became active while coming to grips with moral dilemmas. Biologist Janos Vargha was horrified by plans to build a dam on the Danube, and founded the Danube Blue to fight the project. Although he dreams of returning to research, he has agreed to handle the Free Democrat's environmental portfolio.

``I'm an independent thinker,'' he says. ``I hope we soon can find some real politicians to replace me.''

Mr. Csoori began his political activism by speaking out in defense of the Hungarian minority in both Czechoslovakia and Romania.

``I just felt a duty as a writer to speak up for the identity of this small nation,'' he explains. ``Otherwise, we have no future.''

His activism led him to organize the Democratic Forum, an inchoate sort of ``populist'' front which organized rallies in support of Hungarian minorities living outside the country. Some of his followers want to turn the Forum into a regular political party. Csoori disagrees.

``The Forum is a moral movement, not a party,'' he says. ``For three decades we've had an impoverished political life. We need time to enrich it.''

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