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Conservatives Assert Old Communist Party Still Exists With AM-Hungary, Bjt

October 8, 1989

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) _ Hard-line opponents of reform said Sunday that the national Communist Party, dissolved by delegates to a party congress, still exists and its fate must be decided by its entire membership.

Congress delegates on Saturday voted to dissolve the party, saying ″its history ... has ended.″ The Communist Party, officialy called the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party, is to be replaced by the Hungarian Socialist Party, according to the congres resolution. Reform leaders said the new party would be similar to Western European socialist parties.

It was the first time in the Soviet bloc that the leadership of a Communist Party has decided to dissolve the organization. The move represents an attempt to draw support for multiparty national elections scheduled for June at the latest.

But a ranking Communist conservative defied his party’s decision. Former Politburo member Janos Berecz said Sunday the old party remains in existence until its entire rank-and-file decides on its fate.

Berecz, ousted from the party Politburo by reformers several months ago, said, ″The membership still has to decide, and if the majority or a large section of the membership decides that they are members of the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party, then I am with them.″

He spoke in an interview on state television and did not elaborate.

Another conservative, Robert Ribanszki, said he would organize a plebiscite among the 720,000 members of the old party to allow them to declare their party affiliation.

″The decision made yesterday was a great step backward in the history of the Hungarian left-wing movement,″ said Ribanszki. ″It’s not the Leninist principles that were wrong but the way they were implemented.″

The hard-line Janos Kadar Society, named for Hungary’s former leader, announced plans to found a new Communist Party. Politburo member Janos Barabas suggested the courts may have to decide.

Janos Barabas, a reform member of the Politburo, was asked if the new Socialist Party could be considered the legal successor to the Communist Party and he said the courts may have to decide.

Some legal experts at the congress told reporters the new party was the legal successor because it was a child of the congress - the old party’s most authoritative body.

The new party has invited into its ranks all members of the old party who agree with its principles. The new party’s platform backs parliamentary democracy with competing parties and components of private ownership in the national economy.

Vice Premier Peter Medgyessy urged the successors of the dissolved Communist Party to stop interfering in government business as Hungary prepares for its first free elections in 41 years.

Medgyessy told reporters he would like to see a ″government of experts″ run the country until the elections.

He also indicated he believed to many conservatives may be allowed into the new party, saying, ″I am not convinced that the so-called cleansing (of ranks) that is necessary actually has happened.″

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