2015 | 7 | 1 | 34-65
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The Ways of Enrichment and its Interpretations in Hungarian Politics after the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867

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During the long 19th century both the state and society underwent substantial changes that had signifi cant eff ects on the world of politics in Hungary. The transformations can be subsumed under such collective terms as passage from a social and economic structure based on privileges and orders to capitalism, the birth of the bourgeoisie and of the modern political system, the evolution of parliamentary institutions and the formation of a bourgeois legal system and public sphere. All these led to the transformation of the political culture and to the appearance of the modern techniques of power. During the second half of the nineteenth century in Hungary modernity and the structures surviving from the past lived side by side. In the world of politics after the Compromise of 1867 the rules of parliamentarism and modern public sphere commingled with the forms of behavior inherited from the political life of the noble orders and with the traditional norms of informal social and family connections. Th e fast economic development created a milieu full of new temptations for politicians. It seems that the Hungarian elite were not prepared for the moral challenges the rapidly changing political and economic environment posed. Th erefore the principal questions of this case study are which new and old legal, political and moral norms regulated the enrichment of politicians and where contemporary discourse posited the limits of corruption. The paper answers these questions through the analysis of the cases of some Hungarian government politicians. The author explores the varied sources available about the incriminating aff airs: archival materials, personal documents, parliamentary records and newspapers, together with a number of literary representations of the problem. Th e historical data serve to demonstrate that corruption is an elastic notion. Studying the discourse of corruption highlights that neither the seriousness of the deed nor the truth of the accusations was important, in fact political situation alone determined if the politicians would be blackened or not. Th e corruption accusations became a part of the political arsenal of the Hungarian public life. The Compromise Era off ers a number of examples of the establishment of this new form of political infi ghting and its fi rst successful application.
  • Střed. Časopis pro mezioborová studia střední Evropy 19. a 20. století, Masarykův ústav a Archiv Akademie věd ČR, v. v. i., Gabčíkova 2632/10, Praha 8, 182 00
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