Éva Petrás - The Struggle of Hungarian Christian Democrats for a Democratic Hungary, 1944–1957

After interwar antecedents, the Democratic People’s Party (DPP), or Demokrata Néppárt (DNP) in Hungarian, was established as a modern Christian democratic party at the end of 1944 in Hungary. The DPP took part in both parliamentary elections of 1945 and 1947, gaining 61 seats in 1947. After the communists’ seizure of power in 1948, it was not only the political representation of Christian democracy that was in danger but also the personal existence of its representatives. Party leader István Barankovics and 11 DPP MPs were forced to emigrate in 1949, and the operation of the Party was suspended. Communist State Security played an active role first in the surveillance of Christian democrats and then in their persecution after 1948. What awaited those who remained in Hungary was a final exclusion from public life, various forms of retaliation, show trials, imprisonment, internment, police supervision, persecution, and constant surveillance by State Security. The regime may seem to have reached its objective in the case of Christian democracy, i.e., its elimination, but this was actually far from the truth. The participation of Christian democrats in opposition movements on the one hand, and the international activity of émigré Christian democrats on the other, was significant in promoting Hungary’s turn towards democracy.