Stalin had clear objectives for the future of Hungary: it was to become part of the Soviet
influence. It needed activists who could rule the country. However, the Hungarian Communist
Party was very weak. The Magyars remembered the short period of the rule of the Hungarian
Soviet Republic, hence they despised supporting the communist movements. Those who
wanted to take over power had to adopt a different tactic in order to do so. It was later called
the "salami technique", i.e. gaining total power under the guise of democracy - a slow, not
revolutionary, increase of influence in the state.
In December 1944, the Hungarian National Independence Front (HNIF) was established in
Szeged (in the part of Hungary liberated by the Red Army), consisting of communists, social
democrats, folk parties, and trade union representatives. Its programme focused on the fight
against Germany in cooperation with the USSR, the democratization of the country and
On behalf of the state, HNIF negotiated a ceasefire with the Allies (Hungary, although
occupied by Germany, did not sign a peace agreement with the Allies), agreeing to hand over
territories acquired after 1937, to pay for the reparations of the USSR, Czechoslovakia and
Yugoslavia, and to maintain the occupying Soviet forces.
With the support of the USSR, the Hungarian Communists started the process of gaining
power. The ranks of the Hungarian Communist Party grew rapidly (in February 1945 -
30,000, in July - 225,000, in January 1946 - over 600,000 people). Mátyás Rákosi, a faithful
pupil of Stalin, an experienced and ruthless politician, became the head of the HSR.
The first national parliamentary elections after the war were held on 4 November 1945. The
Independent Small Farmers’ Party (57%) was the winner. Communists were only the third
force (16.9%), ahead of their social democrats (17.4%). It seemed that the communists would
be brought down to the opposition. However, the country had a Red Army and a Soviet
occupation administration as part of the pressure on the new government.
On 1 February 1946, Hungary became a republic. The communists already had a lot of
influence: Rákosi was Deputy Prime Minister. In September and October 1946, during the
Third Congress of the Hungarian Communist Party, it was decided to intensify the fight for
the introduction of "folk democracy". Soon the NKVD arrested Bela Kovacs, the secretary-
general of the Independent Small Farmers’ Party.
On 31 March 1947, another election took place, which, despite terror and manipulation, did
not end in a decisive victory for the communists (they won 22.3% of the vote and had to share
power with other parties). The decision was made to continue with the trial of the opposing
parties. At the end of May of the same year, charges were made against Prime Minister Ferenc
Nagy who resigned and remained in exile. This resulted in the breaking of the morale of the
main party, and the increasing influence of communists.
A year later, the Hungarian Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party were merged to
form the Hungarian Workers' Party.