Gyula Horn

(b. 1932)

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(b. 5 July 1932).

Prime Minister of Hungary 1994–8 Born in Budapest, he joined the Communist Party as a teenager, after his father had been murdered by the Gestapo for his Communist convictions. He studied economics in the USSR, and returned to join the Ministry of Finance and, in 1959, the Foreign Ministry. He took part in the repression of the Hungarian Revolution, and in the subsequent purges. He joined the foreign policy unit in the Politburo in 1971, and became Secretary of State in the Foreign Office in 1985. Despite his orthodox and committed Communist past, he became Foreign Minister in the reformist Communist government (now under the name of Hungarian Socialist Party, MSZP) of 1989–90. His decision to open Hungary's border with Austria on 27 June 1989 led to the fall of the Iron Curtain and, ultimately, to the collapse of the Berlin Wall. In 1990, he negotiated the withdrawal of Soviet troops by 1991. He became leader of his party after its heavy losses in the 1990 general elections, and guided it to an overwhelming victory in 1994. Despite its absolute majority in the new parliament, he entered a coalition with the Liberal Party to increase the government's popular base for its radical economic reforms. These proved very unpopular, and he suffered a heavy election defeat at the hands of Viktor Orbán.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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