Hungarians Commemorate 20th Anniversary of End of Communism
Hungarians Commemorate 20th Anniversary of End of Communism

Hungary is commemorating its crushed 1956 Revolution against Soviet domination and the 20th anniversary of its declaration as a republic and the end of communism. The ceremonies come however as opinion polls show a growing number of Hungarians are dissatisfied with the political changes that have occurred since then.

The Hungarian flag was raised and the Hungarian national anthem played on a rainy autumn Friday morning, as Hungarians observed two major historical events.

The ceremony in front of Hungary's Gothic parliament building commemorated the failed revolution against Soviet domination, which erupted on October 23, 1956. It was crushed within days by the Soviet military, leaving thousands of Hungarian citizens dead.

But, also on Friday, Hungarians recalled that exactly 20 years ago acting president Matyas Szuros fulfilled one of the greatest dreams of those involved in the anti-Communist rebellion.

Standing on the balcony of the parliament building, he declared Hungary an independent, democratic state. He told a cheering crowd that beginning on the 23rd of October, 1989 Hungary would be known as the Hungarian Republic.

Hungary's current president Laszlo Solyom observed solemnly as a military honor guard marched nearby in remembrance of those who fought and died for freedom.

Later, people laid flowers at the graves of Hungarian heroes, including Hungarian Prime Minister Imre Nagy who was executed for his role in the 1956 revolt.

His grandchildren and former freedom fighters also laid wreaths on the central monument of the revolution in Budapest, and a memorial on the dismantling of the Iron Curtain, made of barbed wire, was inaugurated near the Austrian border.

However, although freedom has long since been achieved, many Hungarians were not in a celebratory mood on Friday. A just released survey by the respected Ipsos opinion institute found that most Hungarians are dissatisfied with the political, social and economic changes of the past two decades.

Half of the respondents said they or their families are "'the losers" of the post-communist transition. Nearly 60 percent of those questioned regarded the political and economic developments that began 20 years ago as "bad for Hungary." Only one in five Hungarians said they satisfied with the changes.

That worries Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai.

Speaking at a conference in parliament on the changes, Mr. Bajnai said that although the 1956 Revolution failed, it planted the seeds for the declaration of an independent state in 1989. However he acknowledged that although the past 20 years saw many achievements , there are many people who feel disappointed about post - communist Hungary. He said politicians have a great responsibility in this because it was them and not the people  who missed the available opportunities.

Adding to the frustration is the growing gap between young people - 20 years old and younger - and those older people who lived under communist-rule.

There has been international concern that extremist parties might use this disillusionment and generation gap to gain support ahead of next year's elections. One right wing party, the Movement For A Better Hungary, or Jobbik, held a large rally in Budapest, Friday.