Social Democratic Party of Hungary

Social Democratic Party of Hungary


(SDPH; Mag yarorszagi Szocialdemokrata Part), a party founded in Budapest on Dec. 7-8, 1890, at the congress of the General Workers’ Party (founded 1880), as a party of the Second International. The congress adopted the “Declaration of Principles,” the program of the SDPH. The declaration proclaimed the struggle for socialism to be the political goal of the party and the Hungarian working class. The leaders considered universal suffrage by secret ballot to be the only means to achieve this goal. The Revolution of 1905-07 in Russia and the political crisis in Hungary stimulated the activities of the SDPH, although opportunists remained in the party leadership.

During World War I (1914-18), the SDPH maintained social chauvinist positions. After the victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Hungary on Oct. 31, 1918, members of the SDPH joined the coalition government. In November 1918 a group of left-wing Social Democrats helped found the Communist Party of Hungary (CPH). However, the anticommunist policies of the right-wing leadership of the SDPH helped lead to the arrest of the Central Committee of the CPH on Feb. 21, 1919.

On Mar. 21, 1919, under pressure from members of the left wing, including J. Landler, J. Hamburger, D. Nyisztor, and E. Varga, the SDPH united with the CPH, forming the Socialist Party of Hungary, which disbanded in August 1919. The majority of the former Social Democrats acknowledged the political goals of the communists and cooperated with them in the struggle for the preservation of the Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919. The right-wing leaders of the SDPH, including E. Garami and M. Buchinger, did not recognize unification of the two parties.

In August 1919 the SDPH reorganized legally as a reformist party. The government that it established between August 1 and August 6, the “trade-union government,” destroyed the most important achievements of soviet power in Hungary. In December 1921 the right-wing leaders of the SDPH signed the Bethlen-Peyer Pact of 1921, a secret agreement to collaborate with the Horthy government. The SDPH received representation in parliament in 1922.

The right-wing leaders of the party opposed the CPH, which was underground, and carried out an antisoviet policy. Left-wing Social Democrats cooperated with the CPH in trade unions and workers’ striking committees. In 1925, together with the communists, they formed the legal Socialist Workers’ Party of Hungary, which functioned under the leadership of the CPH until 1928.

In 1939 the SDPH was renamed the Social Democratic Party (SDP). During World War II (1939-45), the right-wing leaders of the SDP supported the anticommunist and antisoviet policies of the Horthy government. The left-wing Social Democrats, including A. Szakasits and G. Marosán, who had collaborated with the communists in a number of antifascist actions, gained influence.

After the occupation of Hungary by fascist German troops in March 1944, the SDP operated underground. In May 1944 the left-wing Social Democrats joined the Hungarian Front, which was established on the initiative of the communists. On Oct. 10, 1944, the SDP concluded an agreement on joint actions with the Communist Party and became part of the Hungarian National Independence Front (HNIF).

On Dec. 22, 1944, the SDP joined the Provisional National Government. By August 1945, the left-wing members, who advocated a united workers’ movement and the building of socialism in Hungary, outnumbered the right-wing members in the central leadership of the SDP. In March 1946 the SDP became part of the left-wing bloc within the HNIF.

The Thirty-sixth Congress of the SDP, convened in March 1948, resolved to continue the struggle against reformists and to prepare for the creation of a united workers’ party. Between January and March 1948, approximately 100,000 Social Democrats submitted applications to join the Communist Party. By June 1948, 25,000 rightists were expelled from the SDP. Between June 12 and June 14,1948, the SDP united with the Communist Party. The two parties adopted a platform based on Marxism-Leninism and formed the Hungarian Workers’ Party.


Istoriia vengerskogo revoliutsionnogo rabochego dvizheniia, vols. 1-3. Moscow, 1970-74. (Translated from Hungarian.)


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