History of Hungary During the ninth century, Finno-Ugriar nomads came into Hungary via south Russia, settling down in the latter half of the tenth century. The Arpád Dynasty ruled until the end of the 13th century when Hungary was devastated by a Mongol invasion. Matthias Corvinus subsequently re-established Hungary as the leading power in central Europe, also developing Magyar arts and literature. His successor, Laszlo II, undid his work within a few years, and Hungary fell under Turkish sovereignty during the 16th century, re-establishing independence after the Thirty Years’ War. Hungary formed an alliance with Austria and was ruled by a Magyar aristocracy. It remained an essentially feudal state until 1914 (under monarchic and republican regimes), with an antiquated (by European standards) social system which was not fully dismantled until after World War II. Hungary sided with Nazi Germany during the war until 1944, when German troops occupied the country and the Hungarians sought to break the alliance. The Germans in turn were driven out by the Russians in January 1945. By 1949, Hungary had become a Soviet-style socialist state, a member of the Warsaw Pact and a People’s Republic. The ruling Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party was riven by factional splits between pro-Soviet hardliners and the more liberally inclined group around Imre Nagy. The dispute came to a head in 1956 when hard-liners led by Janos Kádár overthrew premier Nagy with the support of Soviet army units. Despite its origins, the Hungarian regime had by the 1970s become the most liberal of all Soviet bloc systems. This was largely a result of the introduction in 1968 of the ‘New Economic Mechanism’ which allowed a significant role to be taken by private enterprise and the market in the Hungarian economy. Expressions of political opposition were not as ruthlessly suppressed as elsewhere in Eastern Europe. The socialists nonetheless maintained a firm grip on the country’s political and economic life.(turkeyarena.com) During the 1980s the political situation relaxed still further as Kádár’s influence over the Government was gradually reduced. He was removed from the ruling Politburo in 1988 and Hungary began the transition to a pluralistic political system. The first elections were held in the spring of 1990 and brought to power a center-right umbrella group, the Hungarian Democratic Forum (Magyar Demokrata Forum, MDF) with Jozsef Antall as prime minister. The left – social democrats and former communists – coalesced around the Hungarian Socialist Party (Magyar Szocialista Part, MSzP). A second right-wing party, the Alliance of Young Democrats (Fiatal Demokratak Sz`vetsege, FIDESz), eclipsed the Democratic Forum during the mid-1990s, and Hungarian politics now follow the customary European model of alternating between FIDESz and the MSzP. Following the most recent poll in May 2002, the Socialists replaced the FIDESz-led coalition as the governing party. The character of the two main parties is quite different. The Socialists are essentially a party of technocrats with little ideological fervor: the new Prime Minister, Peter Medgyessy (a former finance minister and deputy premier), is not even a member of the party. By contrast, FIDESz, led by the recently deposed Victor Orban, is a populist party with a highly motivated support base. Nevertheless, there are few significant differences to the main agendas of the two parties. The overriding priority is the pursuit of full membership of the European Union, which in itself places major constraints on government spending irrespective of the party in power. Hungary achieved its other main objective – membership of NATO – in 1999. Along with Poland and the Czech Republic, Hungary was admitted after a two-year period of negotiation and a national referendum which approved future membership by a six-to-one margin. Hungary has also joined with the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia in the Visegrad group, which was established to promote political and economic co-operation in central Europe. Abroad, Hungary has had some involvement in the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s. Its calculations must always take account of the sizeable ethnic Hungarian minorities in the Yugoslav autonomous region of Vojvodina (400,000), north-eastern Romania (1.7 million), the Slovak Republic (550,000) and Ukraine. Hungary clearly believes, however, that NATO is the best guarantor of stability in the region.