Skip to main content

The Traditional Authoritarianism of the Interwar Period (1920–1944)

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Policy Agendas in Autocracy, and Hybrid Regimes

Part of the book series: Comparative Studies of Political Agendas ((CSPA))

Abstract

In this chapter we present policymaking during the traditional authoritarianism of the interwar period between 1920 and 1944, an era of constant crisis. The impact of regime characteristics on policy agendas shows an ambiguous picture, as manifested in the two key cases highlighted. The first one is the so-called Jewish Question and anti-Jewish legislation. Here we can see the footprint of right-wing media, the far-right opposition, and Nazi Germany on agenda dynamics. At the same time, three major constitutional reforms of the era were aimed at preventing far-right forces and Social Democrats—designated by the traditional authoritarian forces supporting the government as anti-system parties—from gaining power. The regime was also Janus-faced in its policy priorities. While in general public services (especially healthcare) received less attention than what one would expect in fully fledged democracies, education was remarkably present in all arenas of the agenda.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 119.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. 1.

    Etelköz is the name of the territory where Hungarians lived in the ninth century before conquering the Carpathian Basin.

  2. 2.

    Approximately 11,6% of Hungary’s population (almost 1 million people) lived in Budapest at that time.

  3. 3.

    The party presented two manifestos for the 1922 election: The respective manifestos of the Christian National Union Party’s majority and minority (Püski, 2006: 48).

  4. 4.

    In addition to conservatives, the party also featured agrarian democrats, smallholders, and even politicians who were liberal through and through.

  5. 5.

    For the year 1944, we considered data up until March 19, the day of German occupation, which is why our data for that year are incomplete.

  6. 6.

    Arcanum Digitális Tudománytár [Arcanum Digitheca] https://adtplus.arcanum.hu/hu/ (Retrieved: April 21, 2020).

  7. 7.

    Unity Party, Party of National Unity, and then Party of Hungarian Life.

  8. 8.

    National Smallholders’ Party, Christian Smallholders’ Party, and then Independent Smallholders’ Party.

  9. 9.

    In the 1939, election national socialist representatives made it into parliament in the ranks of no fewer than eight different parties.

  10. 10.

    Archive of Hungarian Decrees (Magyarországi Rendeletek Tára), 1867–1945 https://library.hungaricana.hu/hu/collection/ogyk_rendeletek_tara/ (Retrieved on April 26, 2020).

  11. 11.

    In 1919, 14% of party manifestos addressed the issue; in 1922 it was 12.5%; in 1930 it was 22%; in 1936 it was 23.8%; and in 1913 it was 13%. In the other years, the share ranged between 0 and 7%.

  12. 12.

    11.5 and 10.4%.

  13. 13.

    0–5%.

  14. 14.

    Generally, this issue made up 0–2% of all promises, and its share only increased between 4 and 5% in 1922 and 1932.

  15. 15.

    Subsequently the National Unity Party and then the Party of Hungarian Life.

  16. 16.

    Between 1922 and 1931, they won around 13–14% (32–25) of the seats; in 1935 they won fewer than 6% (14); and by 1939 they had dropped to a mere 1.5% (4 seats).

  17. 17.

    In 1922 they held 6.5% of the seats (16); in 1926 they won 4% (10); in each of the two subsequent elections they received 3% of the seats (8); and by 1939 their share of seats had fallen to 1.5% (5).

  18. 18.

    In 1922 it was around 47%; from 1923 to 1925 it ranged between 28 and 31%; and it fluctuated between 17 and 26% between 1928 and 1931. Then until 1936 the share of government party interpellations was mostly around 10–12%, and it increased to a level of 20–22% between 1937 and 1940.

  19. 19.

    35–54%.

  20. 20.

    The value of the Shannon–Weaver index for interpellations was in the 2.5–2.8 range for all years but 1944.

  21. 21.

    23, 25, and 20%.

  22. 22.

    4 and 6.4%.

  23. 23.

    Especially in the years from 1942 to 1944, when it stood at 1.6, 4.9, and 0%, respectively.

  24. 24.

    It was around 10% in 1920 and 1921; between 10 and 13.5% in 1924 and 1925; and around 11–12% in 1931 and 1932. At the end of the era, between 1938 and 1943, the annual share of civil rights-related interpellations was mostly in the 15–20% range. In the other years, their share was mostly in the 5–9% range, and it only fell below the lower figure in 1932 (4.81%) and in 1935 (3.57%).

  25. 25.

    There were only three years when the share of education policy-related interpellations exceeded 5% (in 1924 it was 6.75%, in 1927 it was 8%, and in 1928 it was 7.3%).

  26. 26.

    There were several years when the share of law and crime-related interpellations fell in the 8–12% range (1923, 1924, 1931,1933, and 1943), and in 1928 their share even exceeded 18%.

  27. 27.

    The year 1932, when the share of interpellations concerning other economic policies surged above 10%, marked an exception.

  28. 28.

    The highest value was 8% in 1927. Furthermore, it was around 6% in 1921 and 1926. During the rest of the period, it was under 5%, indeed, most of the time it was between 1 and 2%.

  29. 29.

    126 laws.

  30. 30.

    106 laws.

  31. 31.

    75 laws.

  32. 32.

    57 laws.

  33. 33.

    46 laws.

  34. 34.

    40 laws.

  35. 35.

    35 laws.

  36. 36.

    1920, 1930, 1932, 1937, 1941, 1942, 1944.

  37. 37.

    They made up 4–5% of new laws.

  38. 38.

    20%, 9 laws.

  39. 39.

    Ranged between 10 and 17%, except for 1935 and 1937, when their share was 2.8 and 2.6%, respectively.

  40. 40.

    9 out of 15 laws.

  41. 41.

    The share of this topic was in the range between 16 and 22% throughout the entire period, except for 1927.

  42. 42.

    1.9, 2.7, 3.2, and 6.7%.

  43. 43.

    28.6% in 1922 and 26.4% in 1923.

  44. 44.

    It was even higher in 1920 (29.6%), in 1921 (36.5%), and in 1922 (22.3%).

  45. 45.

    116 decrees were adopted that year.

  46. 46.

    Generally, between 300 and 400.

  47. 47.

    In 1938 the number of decrees adopted was still only 481, but in 1939 it surged to 708, in 1940 it was 790, and by 1941 it had risen to 981.

  48. 48.

    814 were adopted in 1942, 691 in 1943, and 605 in 1944.

  49. 49.

    In the 1920 and 1921 elections, this issue made up 13% and 20%, respectively, of all the sentences with policy relevance. It was only in 1939 that this ratio rose to 12% again. In 1924, 1931, and 1936, 7% of the promises pertained to this issue, while in 1932 the corresponding figure was 3.4%, in 1930 it was 1.5%, and in 1926 it was 0%.

  50. 50.

    In 1920 (10%), 1921 (9%), between 1924 and 1926 (around 10–13%), and then in 1933 (11%).

  51. 51.

    15–20%.

  52. 52.

    In 1938 and 1941 this ratio was around 10%, while in 1921 and 1939 it was around 5%. In 1924 and 1936, 3.6% of the laws fell into this category, while in 1940 and 1942 their share was 4.1%. In the remaining years no laws were adopted that pertained to the major topic civil rights.

  53. 53.

    The data for the year 1944 is calculated up to March 19 of that year, the date of the German occupation.

  54. 54.

    Before 1938, there were between 0 and 6 decrees a year, while in 1926, 1929, and 1939 their number fluctuated between 10 and 18; in 1928 there were 29. Between 1939 and 1942, by contrast, their number surged to 186–189 each year.

  55. 55.

    Of the 101 interpellations in this category during the period in question, 99 were presented between 1939 and 1943.

  56. 56.

    Act XIX of 1938 on Ensuring a More Effective Balance in Social and Economic Life.

  57. 57.

    Act IV of 1939 on Restricting the Space Occupied by Jews in Public Life and the Economy.

  58. 58.

    Act XV of 1941 Amending and Modifying Act XXXI of 1894 on the Marriage Law, as well as the Race Protection Measures Relevant in that Context.

  59. 59.

    Act XV of 1942 on the Agricultural and Forestry Real Estate Owned by Jews.

  60. 60.

    Act VIII of 1942 on the Legal Status of the Israelite Denomination.

  61. 61.

    On the role of the Hungarian public administration in the Holocaust, see Gulyás (2016).

  62. 62.

    Sixteen of the 106 promises belonged into this category.

  63. 63.

    Five mentions overall.

  64. 64.

    It made up 6% of his speech.

  65. 65.

    Act XIX of 1938 on the Election of the Members of the National Assembly.

  66. 66.

    Act XIX of 1937 on the Expansion of the Powers of the Regent and the Election of the Regent.

  67. 67.

    Act XXVII of 1937 on the New Determination of the Powers of the National Assembly’s Upper House.

  68. 68.

    At the time, 11.6% of sentences with a policy relevance belonged to this category.

  69. 69.

    10.4%.

  70. 70.

    At the time, its share ranged between 0 and 3%.

  71. 71.

    In 1924, over 10% of the laws pertained to education, while in 1926 the share of education-related laws was 8.3% and in 1927 it was 5.7%. In 1936, 1937, and 1940 their share was around 8%, and in 1920, 1921, and 1941 it was around 5%. In the remaining years, it fluctuated between 0 and 4%.

  72. 72.

    In 1927 it was 8%, in 1928 it was 7.2%, and in 1924 it was 6.8%. In the other years it mostly ranged between 0 and 4%.

  73. 73.

    While the share of education spending in the budget was between 3 and 4% between 1920 and 1922, it had risen to 5.8% in 1923, and then surged to over 7% between 1924 and 1931. Its share of the budget dropped to 6.5% in the next year, and then continued to oscillate in the narrow range between 6.2 and 6.4% until 1938. From then on, its share continued to stay below 6% in all years but 1941, but even in that year only 6.7% of the budget were spent on education, although given that it was wartime this figure was not necessarily low.

References

  • Ács, N. (2013). A magyar választási rendszer főbb változásai 1848-tól 1989-ig. In Á. Cserny (Ed.), Ünnepi tanulmányok Rácz Attila 75. születésnapja tiszteletére (pp. 19–40). Nemzeti Közszolgálati és Tankönyvkiadó Zrt.

    Google Scholar 

  • Albrecht, F. (1937). A kormányzói jogkör kiterjesztése. Az Ország Útja, 1(2), 17–22.

    Google Scholar 

  • Amstrong, D. (1982). The rise of the international organisation: A short history. Macmillan.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Balázs, Á. (2016). Plural voting and representation of minorities in Central Europe. Central European Papers, 4(1), 32–49.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bodó, B. (2011, April). The white terror in Hungary, 1919–1921: The social worlds of paramilitary groups. Austrian History Yearbook, 42(2011), 133–163.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boros, Z. (2008). Parlamentarizmus a Horthy-korban (1919–1944). In B. Zsuzsanna, & S. Dániel (Eds.), Parlamentarizmus Magyarországon (1867–1944) (pp. 161–386). ELTE Eötvös Kiadó.

    Google Scholar 

  • Braham, R. R., & Kovács, A. (Eds.). (2016). The Holocaust in Hungary: seventy years later. Central European University Jewish Studies Program–Central European University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Buzinkay, G. (2016). A magyar sajtó és újságírás története a kezdetektől a rendszerváltásig. Wolters Kluwer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clavin, P. (2000). The Great Depression in Europe, 1929–1939. St. Martin’s Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gergely, J., Glatz, Ferenc, & Pölöskei, F. (Eds.). (2003). Magyarországi Pártprogramok II. Magyarországi Pártprogramok 1919–1944. ELTE – Eötvös Kiadó.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gulyás, É. (2016). The role of public administration in the Hungarian holocaust. General assessment and case study in historical social psychology. Central European Papers, 4(2), 80–99. https://doi.org/10.25142/cep.2016.016.

  • Gyurgyák, J. (2001). A zsidókérdés Magyarországon. Politikai eszmetörténet. Osiris Kiadó.

    Google Scholar 

  • Henn, M. (2018). Opinion polls and volatile electorates: Problems and issues in polling European Societies. First published 1998 by Ashgate Publishing. Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hollósi, G. (2016). The comparison of the Czechoslovak and Hungarian electoral law in the light of the Hungarian interwar literature. Central European Papers, 4(2), 53–67.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hubai, L. (2001). Magyarország XX. századi választási atlasza 1920–2000. CD-ROM. Napvilág Kiadó.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ilonszki, G. (2000). Crisis and pseudo-democratic compromise. In D. Berg, & J. Mitchell (Eds.), Conditions of democracy in Europe, 1919–39. Systematic case studies (pp. 242–262). Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kántás, B. (2020). Árnyékhadsereg? Válogatott dokumentumok a Kettőskereszt Vérszövetség katonai titkos társaság 1920-as évekbeli működéséről. Hungarovox.

    Google Scholar 

  • Krivoss, Á. (1937). Választójog, népesség, adóteher. Gazdaságpolitikai alapon készült választójogi tervezet. Budapesti I. Ker. Iparoskör.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lénár, A. (2011). A szakszervezeti mozgalom gyökerei és fejlődési tendenciái a második világháborúig. In M. Dobák (Ed.), A gazdasági és társadalmi érdekérvényesítés starégiai és szervezeti modelljei a 20. században (pp. 33–63). L’Harmattan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lorman, T. (2003). The Bethlen-Peyer Pact: A reassessment. Central Europe, 1(2), 147–162.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lorman, T. (2007). Hungary, 1920–1925 Istvan Bethlen and the politics of consolidation. Columbia University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Macartney, C. A. (1937). Hungary and her successors: The treaty of Trianon and its consequences, 1919–1937. Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Macher, F. (2017). The 1931 financial Crisis in Austria and Hungary: A critical reassesment (PhD). London School of Economics and Political Science, London.

    Google Scholar 

  • Merziger, P., Balbi, G., Barrera, C., & Sipos, B. (2019). Crises, rise of fascism and the establishment of authoritarian media systems. In K. Arnold, P. Preston, & S. Kinnebrock (Eds.), The handbook of European communication history (pp. 135–152). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Molnár, K. (1938). Alkotmányjogi reformjaink az 1937 és 1938 években. Danubia.

    Google Scholar 

  • Paksa, R. (2012). A magyar szélsőjobboldal története. Jaffa.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pastor, P. (2003). Major trends in Hungarian foreign policy from the collapse of the monarchy to the Peace Treaty of Trianon. Hungarian Studies, 17(1), 3–11.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pesti, S. (2002). Az újkori magyar parlament. Osiris Kiadó.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pócza, K. (2019). Closing the expectation gap? Crisis of Hungarian Parliamentarism in the inter-war period. In R. Aerts, van C. Baalen, H. te Velde, M. van der Steen, & M.-L. Recker (Eds.), The ideal of parliament in Europe since 1800. Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Püski, L. (2006). A Horthy-rendszer. Pannonica Kiadó.

    Google Scholar 

  • Püski, L. (2009). Választási rendszer és parlamentarizmus a Horthy-korszakban. In I. Romsics (Ed.), A magyar jobboldali hagyomány (pp. 73–101). Osiris Kiadó.

    Google Scholar 

  • Püski, L. (2015). A Horthy-korszak parlamentje. Országgyűlés Hivatala.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schweitzer, G. (2005). Anti-Jewish laws in judicature practice of the administrative court. In J. Molnár (Ed.), The Holocaust in Hungary a European perspective (pp. 167–179). Balassi Kiadó.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schweitzer, G. (2014). Responses in Hungarian constitutional theory to the so-called anti-Jewish laws (1938–1943). Journal on European History of Law, 5(2), 67–72.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schweitzer, G. (2017a). Die Freiheitsrechte. In G. Máthé (Ed.), Die Entwicklung der Verfassung und des Rechts in Ungarn (pp. 669–696). Dialóg Campus.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schweitzer, G. (2017b). Közjogi provizórium, jogfolytonosság, új közjogi irány. A két világháború közötti magyarországi alkotmányjog-tudomány vázlata. In G. Schweitzer (Ed.), A magyar királyi köztársaságtól a Magyar Köztársaságig – Közjog- és tudománytörténeti tanulmányok (pp. 7–45). Publikon Kiadó.

    Google Scholar 

  • Serfőző, L. (1976). A titkos társaságok és a konszolidáció 1922–1926-ban. Acta Historica (szeged), 57(1), 3–60.

    Google Scholar 

  • Siklós, A. (1988). Revolution in Hungary and the dissolution of the Multinational State, 1918. Akadémiai Kiadó.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sipos, B. (2011a). A Horthy-korszak politikai rendszere (1919–1944). In I. Vida (Ed.), Magyarországi politikai pártok lexikona 1846–2010 (pp. 137–147). Gondolat Kiadó – MTA – ELTE Pártok, Pártrendszerek, Parlamentarizmus Kutatócsoport.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sipos, B. (2011b). Sajtó és hatalom a Horthy-korszakban. Argumentum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sipos, P. (1997a). A szociáldemokrata szakszervezetek története Magyarországon. MTA Történettudományi Intézete.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sipos, P. (1997b). A konspiráció mítosza. Titkos szervezkedések Magyarországon 1919–1944 “Együttlélegzők” – Kis magyar konspirációtörténet. Beszélő Online, 7(30). http://beszelo.c3.hu/cikkek/a-konspiracio-mitosza.

  • Sipos, P., & Ravasz, I. (1997). Etelközi Szövetség. In P. Sipos & I. Ravasz (Eds.), Magyarország a második világháborúban Lexikon A-ZS. Retrieved from https://www.arcanum.hu/hu/online-kiadvanyok/Lexikonok-magyarorszag-a-masodik-vilaghaboruban-lexikon-a-zs-F062E/e-F08DD/etelkozi-szovetseg-F091E/.

  • Strausz, P. (2011). Szociális érdekegyeztetés és gazdaságirányítás – Útkeresés a két világháború közötti Magyarországon. In M. Dobák (Ed.), A gazdasági és társadalmi érdekérvényesítés statégiai és szervezeti modelljei a 20. században (pp. 165–215). L’ Harmattan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Szabó, I. (2019). Law I of 1920 and the historical constitution. In F. Hörcher & T. Lorman (Eds.), A history of the Hungarian constitution: Law, government and political culture in Central Europe (pp. 159–182). I. B. Tauris.

    Google Scholar 

  • Szalai, A. (2013). Ami az Alaptörvényből kimaradt. A második kamara mint intézményes megoldás. Pro Publico Bono. Magyar Közigazgatás, 1, 71–90.

    Google Scholar 

  • T. Molnár, G. (2019). The European and local aspects of Klebelsberg’s education and cultural policy. In E. Újvári (Ed.), Európai, nemzeti, lokális kulturális örökség és identitás: European, national, local cultural heritage and identity (pp. 135–148). Szegedi Egyetemi Kiadó, Juhász Gyula Felsőoktatási Kiadó.

    Google Scholar 

  • Takács, P. (2019). On Stateform of Hungary between 1920 and 1944: Applicability of the term “Monarchy without a King.” Journal on European History of Law, 10(2), 139–148.

    Google Scholar 

  • Takács, P. (2020). Renaming states—A case study: Changing the name of the Hungarian state in 2011. Its background, reasons, and aftermath. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue internationale de Sémiotique juridiqu. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11196-020-09692-y.

  • Thompson, S. (1993). Agrarian reform in Eastern Europe following World War I: Motives and outcomes. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 75(3), 840–844.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tomka, B. (2020). The economic consequences of World War I and the Treaty of Trianon for Hungary. Online first. Regional Statistics, 10, 19 p. Retrieved from https://www.ksh.hu/docs/hun/xftp/terstat/2020/rs100101.pdf.

  • Ujváry, G. (2016). Pozitív válaszok Trianonra: Klebelsberg Kuno és Hóman Bálint kulturális politikája. Korunk, 27(2), 129–131.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ujváry, G. (2018). Klebelsberg Kuno és a Trianon utáni magyar felsőoktatás-politika. In G. Ujváry (Ed.), Trianon és a magyar felsőoktatás I (pp. 237–262). VERITAS Történetkutató Intézet.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vida, I. (Ed.) (2011). Magyarországi politikai pártok lexikona 1846–2010. Gondolat Kiadó – MTA – ELTE Pártok, Pártrendszerek, Parlamentarizmus Kutatócsoport.

    Google Scholar 

  • Winchester, B. J. (1973). Hungary and the “Third Europe” in 1938. Slavic Review, 32(4), 741–756.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgment

The author is thankful to Tamara Egri for the help regarding processing prime ministerial speeches and other databases.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ágnes M. Balázs .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2021 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Balázs, Á.M. (2021). The Traditional Authoritarianism of the Interwar Period (1920–1944). In: Sebők, M., Boda, Z. (eds) Policy Agendas in Autocracy, and Hybrid Regimes. Comparative Studies of Political Agendas. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-73223-3_6

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics