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Posters and Election Propaganda

A blog dedicated to the examination of communications in election campaigns, with a focus on posters

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Posted by Steven Seidman at 12:30PM   |  6 comments
Magyar Democratic Forum, "Comrades, the End!" (1990)

The Hungarian parliamentary elections are set for April 11 and 25. Hungary has had democratic elections since it ended Soviet domination in 1989.

The center-right Hungarian Civic Union (Fidesz) is favored to win by a large margin over the ruling Socialists by promising to boost the economy by cutting taxes, as well as cutting debt, according to Reuters. One poll shows Fidesz with 47% backing and the party in power with only 12%. As in the United States, job creation is key, with unemployment in both countries around 10%.

Two other parties have some support: the right-wing Jobbik (9%) and the conservative Magyar Democratic Forum (3%).

The Democratic Forum (MDF) won Hungary’s first victory post-Communist parliamentary election in 1989, but has been in decline since and needs to attract at least 5% of the total vote to gain any of the seats available by proportional representation. Hungary's electoral system is complicated (click here for more on it, as well as results of recent elections).

After the withdrawal of Soviet troops, the Hungarian Communist Party disbanded and reestablished itself as the Hungarian Socialist Party.

The posters displayed in Hungarian election campaigns are often quite creative. One MDF poster featured a trash bin, along with symbols of the old regime (i.e., a statue of Stalin, Mao’s and Kim Il Sung’s writings, the Communist Party newspaper); another illustrated the back of a bullnecked Soviet soldier, and pasted over his hat the message “Comrades, the End!” in Russian (see figure). The MDF raised funds by selling thousands of copies of this poster. Moreover, its imagery had such appeal that it resurfaced in 1991 in demonstrations in the Baltic countries.

Hungary had earlier experienced democracy. In 1848, a “peaceful revolution,” led by Lajos Kossuth, freed the country from the Austrian Habsburg Empire and a constitutional monarchy was created, which was short lived. To learn more about the political history and election posters of Hungary, see my book, Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History.

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