Hungarian Opposition Girds for Democracy
IN only a few months, Hungary has radically shifted course from a one-party communist state to being well on its way toward becoming a parliamentary democracy. And nowhere is the urgency more felt than in the newly founded opposition groups. Presidential elections are tentatively scheduled for Nov. 26 and the elections to parliament no later than next June. The present parliament, which has already passed drastic changes in Hungary's Constitution, will meet again today to continue its work on far-reaching reforms. The parliament will consider an opposition petition to postpone the presidential vote.
Opposition groups scramble just to keep up with the rapid changes. But unlike the ruling former communist (now socialist) party, they must start from scratch.
``No one was prepared for this,'' says Csaba Kiss, a founder and spokesman for the Democratic Forum.
The Democratic Forum is the largest of the opposition groups: It claims more than 20,000 members. The group can be described as a middle-of-the-road coalition, in which everyone except those on the far right and the far left can be found. Its program calls for the dismantling of the state sector.
Mr. Kiss has never before been politically active; he was never a member of the illegal opposition. Kiss wants parliamentary elections to be held no later than next March.
``For the stability of Hungary, the elections should be held as soon as possible,'' he said. ``With an unstable Hungary, there is a greater risk for a Soviet intervention.''
Kiss hastens to add, however, that an even greater danger today in Hungary is the weak economy and the passivity of the people. They need a new attitude a feeling of responsibility for themselves and what is happening in Hungary, he says.
The Democratic Forum is only one of at least nine opposition groups trying to organize themselves into political parties.
These include the Alliance of Free Democrats (a group of intellectuals which stands a bit to the left of the Democratic Forum) and the Federation of Young Democrats (a national youth organization that seeks parliamentary democracy and a market economy along with strong social programs).