BBC Online Network
January - March
Renouncing the faith
In January 1989 the Hungarian parliament voted to allow freedom of association and assembly, a move which legitimised the new political parties that were beginning to form. Multi-party elections were scheduled for the following year.

That same month, Imre Pozsgay leaked a central committee historical commission report that called the 1956 uprising a "popular uprising against an oligarchic system of power which had humiliated the nation".

Pozsgay also renounced socialism, calling it "wrong in its entirety". Karoly Grosz rebuked him but the Soviet Union did not intervene.

Pozsgay's report, though never adopted by the central committee, was published a few weeks later. It read: "Under the Stalin regime the ideal of international Communism was turned into a merciless imperial programme. In the shadow of this endeavour, Marxist humanism completely vanished."

The following month the party's central committee dropped a key Socialist phrase from its constitution - "the Marxist-Leninist party of the working class is the leading power of society". It was another sign of emerging pluralism.

The government was making reforms in an effort to divide the opposition and appease its opponents. It was confident that it could control reform and put in place an electoral system that would help it stay in power. But on 23 March, eight rival opposition groups thwarted the government's divide-and-rule tactics by forming an Opposition Roundtable. Their unity over the next few months was crucial in helping to negotiate the revolution.

That month the Soviet Union held its first elections in 75 years with an element of choice. The election was carefully watched by Eastern Europeans. The Communist Party won 80% of the vote, but some big names, such as Leningrad party chief and Politburo member Yuri Solovyev were not re-elected.

Gyula Thurmer
Imre Pozsgay