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National Parliament building
Courtesy Gustav Forster
The Constitution designates the National Assembly as
supreme organ of state power. In reality the parliament
limited role in the government. Until 1989, the 352-member
unicameral National Assembly met only three or four times
in sessions that lasted no longer than four days each. In
addition to electing the membership of state and
bodies nominally subordinate to it, the National Assembly
enacted laws and approved the five-year economic plans.
from 1980 through 1985 the National Assembly passed only
bills, an insignificant number compared with those passed
Presidential Council and the Council of Ministers. In the
1980s, party leaders openly acknowledged that these two
made all the important decisions and that the National
was merely a rubber stamp.
Delegates to the National Assembly did play several
roles. They contributed to the plenary discussions of the
parliament, acted as members of the county groups, served
constituencies, and participated in the parliament's
committees. Plenary sessions chiefly concerned local
were an attempt to use the parliament's publicity to
authorities on the distribution of funds. Delegates
each county formed county groups to promote the interests
their region. Because most counties had an urban-rural
formation of a common policy outlook was difficult.
inasmuch as Hungary had more agricultural regions than
regions, agriculture enjoyed predominance. As servants of
constituencies, delegates reported on their activities in
National Assembly and attempted to resolve citizens'
against the bureaucracy.
The most important duties of the delegates concerned
work on the standing committees of the National Assembly.
National Assembly elected in 1985, in addition to legal,
administrative, and judicial committees, had standing
for construction and transport, culture, industry, trade,
affairs, agriculture, social and health affairs,
development and environmental protection, and planning and
budgeting. During the 1980-85 convocation of the National
Assembly, 221 out of the 352 delegates served on the
committees, which met about 50 times a year. The
discussed draft laws submitted by the Council of
usually proposing only small changes in the text. The
did, however, have the power to reject the drafts at this
In the 1980s, the committees also actively supervised the
implementation of laws. A parliamentary presidency, which
consisted of the chairman and two deputy chairmen aided by
small bureau, coordinated the work of the committees.
Data as of September 1989