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In mid-1988 the HSWP had about 817,000 members, or 10.3
percent of Hungary's adult population. Nominally the party
working class, the HSWP actually was dominated by members
intelligentsia. Men outnumbered women.
Since 1956 the proportion of workers and peasants in
party has declined. In 1962 industrial and agricultural
made up 59 percent of the party. This figure dropped to 38
percent in 1970, and by 1985 it had declined to 31.9
contrast, in 1975 members of the intelligentsia made up 40
percent of the membership, and by 1985 that figure had
Other statistics showed that members used their
raise their social status. In 1985 about 62 percent of
members originally were workers when they joined the party
8.9 percent originally were peasants. As a result of the
influence that party members held in society and the
the regime granted to party members, about 40 percent of
party membership was able to climb into the ranks of the
intelligentsia from the working class and the peasantry.
children of workers and peasants used the party as a
upward mobility. Having joined the "political class,"
members, particularly full-time party officials, could
new status on to their children.
Statistics on the educational background of party
confirmed the dominance of the intelligentsia. In 1985
approximately 21 percent of party members had received
from a higher educational institution. The corresponding
for the population as a whole was only 6.1 percent. In
43.9 percent of the membership had a high school or
secondary school education. The figure for society as a
27.1 percent. Between 1975 and 1985, the proportion of
who had no more than a primary-school education declined
55.4 to 28.4 percent.
Historically women have formed a minority of the
membership, although since the 1960s their percentage of
membership has risen. In 1966 women made up 22.9 percent
HSWP, and by 1970 this figure had risen to 24.4 percent.
By mid1988 women made up approximately 32.1 percent of the
the late 1980s, however, women generally had not advanced
positions of power. For example, in the Central Committee
in 1985, a mere 11 percent of the members were women. In
1989, only two women sat on the Politburo.
Data as of September 1989