The year of 1989 was incomparable in the history of Central and Eastern European states. Communist regimes toppled in rapid succession. Hungary – similarly to other countries in the region – sought to establish the political, institutional and economic preconditions of modern democracy. However, an entire detachment from Communism that ruled for almost half a century was impossible due to the massive impact inflicted in all senses. A sensitive balance between the two eras, the past and the future, continuity was a serious question of 1989.
This Extended Essay investigates the extent of constitutional continuity in the case of Hungary. As the essay is restricted to the general section of the Constitution, it will be proven first that a new Constitution is crucial to the establishment of the democratic order while its modifications reflect the transition from an autocratic state to a multi–party democracy. Following a discussion of the general problems of continuity, the various amendments put forward by the negotiating sides of the I/1 committee of the National Round–Table Negotiations at specialists' level are examined with the extent of continuity attained by the accepted text. The questions of the form and definition of the state, the sovereignty of the people, the transition to a multi–party democracy, international relations, economic and social issues are thoroughly inspected. It is then concluded that the new Constitution fulfilled its role of continuity in casting a feeling of certainty in the midst of fundamental reforms and ensuring a peaceful transition. It relied upon the previous constitution in maintaining legal tradition, emphasizing the sovereignty of the people, opening windows to the democratic world and taking the initial steps to a market economy while denounced it completely in defining a free and independent state, establishing the bases of a multi–party democracy and underlining the freedom of the individual.