The politics of legitimacy and Hungary's postwar transition

Pittaway, Mark (2004). The politics of legitimacy and Hungary's postwar transition. Contemporary European History, 13(4) pp. 453–475.



This article presents a re-examination of Hungary's postwar transition from the perspective of the politics of legitimacy that were deployed by the various significant political actors. It argues that postwar state formation following Soviet occupation and legitimacy were closely connected. Hungary's Communists and their allies aimed to create a state based on the ideological formula of 'people's democracy', which in the Hungarian context led them to build a state based on the restricted social base of the industrial working class. They ignored or antagonized alternative political traditions, particularly those associated with the rural majority and middle classes that were instead mobilized by an alternative project that rested on a democratized conservatism. This created two visions of a potential postwar political order. The contest between these two visions generated the bitter political struggles that characterized the late 1940s and shaped the social roots of dictatorship in the country.

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