Very early in Hungary’s transition to democracy, almost before it can be said to have begun, dissident János Kis stated that he and his fellow dissidents understood “that they [were] players in a game which demands nerves and patience” (Kis 1992, 220). Nerves and patience would serve democratic Hungary well over the course of the next year, as the dissidents and their more cautious allies sat down to hard bargaining with the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ (communist) Party (MSZMP) in National Roundtable Talks (NKA). In the course of these negotiations, the two sides, opposition and regime, bargained over the design of important political institutions, including the election and powers of the presidency and a constitutional court. The outcome of this bargaining is captured succinctly, if peevishly, by an MSZMP emissary to the talks: “[the opposition] got everything that, according to the logic and structure of the negotiations, should have belonged to the MSZMP.”1
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