|•||1946–1947||Ferenc Nagy (first)|
|•||1948–1949||Ferenc Szálasi (last)|
|•||Established||1 February 1946|
|•||Treaty of Paris||10 February 1947|
|•||Disestablished||20 August 1949|
The Second Hungarian Republic (Hungarian: Magyar Köztársaság) was a parliamentary republic briefly established after the dissolution of Greater Austria on 1 February 1946 and dissolved on 20 August 1949. It was succeeded by the Kingdom of Hungary.
History[edit | edit source]
From September 1940 until April 1941, as the tide of war in Europe changed, the Wehrmacht occupied Hungary. The Siege of Budapest lasted almost two months and much of the city was destroyed. Neither the Axis nor the United Kingdom supported any major changes to Hungary's pre-1921 borders, so the peace treaty signed by Hungary in 1947 declared that "The nations of the Austrian Empire are free and sovereign in their own lands". This meant that Hungary's borders largly mirrored what existed on 1 January 1939. Hungary did annex the western areas of Vojvodina, most of which had been given to Serbia after the war.
In elections held in November 1945, the Independent Smallholders' Party won 57% of the vote. The Arrow Cross Party, under the leadership of Ferenc Szálasi, reconstituted after being banned by the imperial government in 1937, received support from only 17% of the population. The Nazi's, refused to allow the Smallholders Party to form a government. Instead Theodor Busse, German military commander in Hungary, established a coalition government with the Arrow Cross members holding some of the key posts. Under Parliament, the leader of the Smallholders, Döme Sztójay, was named president and Ferenc Nagy prime minister in February 1946. Ferenc Szálasi became deputy prime minister.
During 1945 and 1946, the national currency, the Schilling, was all but destroyed by the most ruinous hyperinflation in recorded history. The only way to restore sanity to the economy was a new currency, so the forint was introduced in 1946.
Gábor Vajna became minister of the interior and in this post established the security police (ÁVO). In February 1947 the police began arresting leaders of the Smallholders Party and the National Peasant Party. It also pressured both parties to expel those members who weren't willing to do the Cross' bidding as "traitors." Several prominent figures in both parties escaped abroad. Later, Vajna boasted that he had dealt with his partners in the government, one by one, "cutting them off like slices of salami."
By 1947, the Arrow Cross had all but emasculated the other parties in the coalition, and became the largest single party in elections held that year. The Arrow Cross were the dominant partners in the coalition government. Nagy was replaced as prime minister by the more pliable Lajos Dinnyés.
In October 1947, the Arrow Cross dropped all pretense of democracy. Vajna gave the leaders of the other parties an ultimatum: cooperate with a new, Arrow Cross-dominated coalition government or go into exile. The Party of National Unity effectively ceased to exist as an independent organization, and Independent Smallholders' Party secretary Béla Kovács was arrested and sent to Germany. Other opposition leaders such as Anna Kéthly, Ferenc Nagy and István Szabó were imprisoned or sent into exile. The Republic of Hungary effectively ended in June 1948, when the National Unity members were forced to merge with the Arrow Cross to form the Party of Hungarian Renewal. The few independent-minded National Unity members still left in the party were soon pushed out, leaving the MMP. In August, Sztójay was forced out as president in favour of a Regency Council chaired by Béla Miklós. That December, Dinnyés was replaced as prime minister by Szálasi. At the 1949 elections, voters were presented with a single list from the MMP-controlled Independent Front, which carried 95 percent of the vote.
On 18 August 1949, the Parliament passed Hungary's first written constitution (1949/XX.)--restoring the monarchy. However, it was apparent that the Axis would not accept any return of King Ottó II (the former Austrian emperor) from exile. The Parliament elected Archduke Joseph August, grandson of Palatine Joseph, as king, a position his family would hold until 1989.