Traditions of Hungarian Constitutional and Political Thought

2.1. Political Thought in The Hungarian Kingdom in the Long 19th Century (1790-1918)

The purpose of the research is to write a narrative, English language history of classical Hungarian political thought in the long 19th century. So far, Hungarian scholarship produced two recent books on this topic, but both István Schlett’s (Schlett 2018) and József Takáts’s  work (Takáts 2007) has a wider time frame, and neither of them were written in English. Balázs Trencsényi and his colleagues produced an English language work (Trencsényi et al. 2016), which, however is not exclusively on Hungary, but on Central Europe in general Finally, László Péter concentrates on this period and the country (Péter 2012), however, what he offers is not a continuous narrative, but a line of essays.  
The narrative, as the end product of the research, is about the political thought of this classical period of Hungarian history. It is not about political history, but a history which reconstructs the political thought of political agents and commentators, the inner conflicts, the balance of power, the camps and their transformations, as they reacted on the political events, and as they were presented as political speech-acts. This work needs to be done for the following two reasons: first, because the Hungarian discourse on history and politics needs to have an overview of this more abstract level of politics, and second, to allow foreign experts, who hwever have no direct access to the Hungarian language, to make sense of the developments of the age together with their turning points.

Research question:

The research question concerns the problem of continuity and discontinuity as conceptualised in Hörcher 2016, in other words  the problem how far is the narrative to be regarded as continuous, and in what sense should it be seen as a story of progress, and in which sense is it not something like development. It also concerns the issue of the turning points, and the consequences of a returning discontinuity in the tradition of Hungarian politicsl thought (if we succeed to distinguish it from other discourses in the region.

Participants of the project:

Ferenc Hörcher (project leader)

Kálmán Tóth (NUPS JERC, RIPG)

Thomas Lorman (University College London, School of Slavonic and East European Studies)

Philip Barker (University College London, School of Slavonic and East European Studies)



2.2. Forms of Municipal Self-Governance in Historical Hungary - with Special Focus on Urban Autonomy

An important element of the public administration of the late 16th century Kingdom of Hungary, under Habsburg rule, was the widening circle of self-government. The main for a of it were the noble county assemlbies and the traditional national institution of the diet, together with the institutional framework of public administration operated by the court. The present project, however, does not focus on these institutions. Instead, it wishes to investigate the political life of the cities of early modern Hungary. The research question addresses the issue of their relationship to crown, diet and county assembly, as well as the actual structure and functioning of the town magistracies, as special institutions within Hungarian self-governance. 
Classics of Hungarian historical scholarship (Hóman, Fügedi, Kubinyi, Bácskai, Granasztói) explained that from a historical perspective not only the royal free cities are relevant, but also those settlements which followed a different track of development. As it is well known, Hungarian nationalist historiography did not have a particular interest in urban history, because cities were usually inhabited by foreign nationalities, who supported the Crown in its conflicts with the diet, in other words in the debate between the estates and the king. The present project wants to look at the political theoretical insights laying behind the practice of (often limited) urban self-government, and at the interactions between the urban centres and state-level politics. Finally, the research supports the aim of writing a philosophical dialogue provisionally entitled The Political Philosophy of the City. 
•    Evangelical leadership in the magistracies of cities in the Northern part of the Hungarian Kingdom (Árpád Tóth)
•    The political thought of urban self-government (Ferenc Hörcher, Ádám Smrcz)
•    The Political Philosophy of the City (Ferenc Hörcher, Iwona Tylek)
•    Conference series: The Intellectual history of the city

Research question:

What sort of political theoretical insights and principles can be gained from an analysis of the urban self-governemnt of the cities of historical Hungary, and how do these insights and principles colour our former knowledge of the history of political thought in Hungary?

Participants of the project:

Ferenc Hörcher (project leader)

Ádám Smrcz (NUPS, JERC, RIPG)

External contributors:

Árpád Tóth (University of Miskolc)

Iwona Tylek (Iagellonian University, Kraków)



2.3. Constitutional conventions and informal politics in Hungary 1867-2018

This research project explores the unwritten conventions and norms which have significantly affected the operation of the Hungarian political system. Three time periods will be investigated: the period of the Dual Monarchy, the interwar period and the post-1990 era. Beyond the written rules several unwritten norms have influenced the behavior of political actors in the past as well as nowadays. These unwritten norms of the Hungarian politics still haven’t been explored and analyzed in depth, only few studies have touched upon them while in the international political science literature research on unwritten norms and conventions started to flourish from the early 1990s. This project focuses on informal conventions and 
institutions which influenced inter-institutional interactions but analyses also the unwritten norms of the intra-parliamentary procedures.

Research question:

The research project focuses on two areas. On the one hand, it will disclose informal institutions and conventions which determined the interactions between the Hungarian parliament, government and the Monarch (or Governor) from 1867 to 1944. Furthermore, it will shed light on the informal institutions influencing the interactions between government, parliament, Head of State and the Hungarian Constitutional Court in the post-1990 era. On the other hand, the intra-institutional approach concentrates on the internal informal institutions and norms which determined the daily operation of the Hungarian parliament. Although a new standing order was adopted in 1994, it has been continuously changed either by codification of informal and unwritten conventions, or by sanctioning misbehaviors evolved on unregulated fields of parliamentary activities. Since informal norms of the intra- and inter-institutional interactions as well as the standing order itself have been central issues of both the post-1990 period and the historical periods under scrutiny, the project extends the scope of research to the historical time period between 1867 and 1944.

Participants of the project:

Kálmán Pócza (Principal Investigator)

András Cieger (Hungarian Academy of Sciences)

Thomas Lorman (University College London)

Péter  Smuk (University of Győr)

István Soltész (former Secretary General of the Hungarian National Assembly)

István Szabó (Pázmány Péter Catholic University)

Sándor  Pesti (Eötvös Loránd University)



2.4 Actors, texts and intertexts of political discourse in early modern Hungary


The project aims to explore the political and historical thought in Hungary after the battle of Mohács (1526) through the research of the most important political actors’ life and career and analyzing the vast material of mostly unpublished or unnoticed documents and sources, which reveal the political ideas, plans and endeavors for the reunification and/or constitutional reform of the country. The wide range of sources – according to the character of contemporary public discourse – preserved mostly in manuscripts; among the pure (and rare) theoretic works it is also important to analyze literary and theological texts, historical narratives, diplomatic and private letters and other types of archival sources, which could document the development of such ideas. The intended outcomes are single-subject studies, text-editions and a comprehensive monograph covering the political visions, ideas and alternatives of a divided political community after the loss of its independence and its cessation of former state-existence.

Research question:

How was affected the intellectual and political elite in Hungary by the constant crisis after the battle of Mohács and the division of the country; what type of plans and ideas for reunification and constitutional reform could exist; how were connected these ideas with the transforming European early modern politics and political thought; who were the main actors and performers in the political discourse and on which stages, levels and mediums was this public discourse in function?

Participants of the project:

Gábor Petneházi (project leader)

Ferenc Hörcher

Eszter Kovács

Ádám Smrcz