Hungary was one of the first European countries to herald the end of communism in the summer of 1989, eclipsed by the fall of the Berlin Wall two weeks later. The monuments of the dictatorship were taken down from public places, into Memento Park. The country’s first free elections were held in 1990 but since then the country’s socio-cultural structure has suffered under pressure from opposing political parties and policies.
From the elections of 1998, Victor Orban, leader of the Hungarian Civic Party, took power and established many positive structures for the city: an expanding economy, falling inflation and low unemployment levels. His achievements also included getting Hungary into NATO but it wasn’t enough and he was eventually ousted in 2002.
At this time the country went with the centre-left Socialists and Free Democratic Parties, with Peter Medgyessy leading the way. His biggest success was Hungary joining the European Union in 2004, which most people wanted despite widespread uncertainty over the concept of foreign ownership. Medgyessy eventually resigned in 2004.
Since then while governments have come and gone quickly, Budapest has remained in the hands of Mayor Gabor Demszky. With his dour demeanour and record of competence, he has managed to relate to the cynicism of Budapestis while also moving the city forward without any major upsets.