An Interview with Kadar

A Communist who does it his way candidly assesses his aims and achievements

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I have always stuck to my positions, and I have always paid the necessary price. To be on good terms with the world, you must have a good and clear conscience. Ordinary men do not spend a lot of time looking at themselves in the mirror. But it is important that when you do look in the mirror, you should not feel ashamed.

Q. What is your concept of democracy under socialism?

A. Democracy is an essence of our political system, which means that it is a serious matter. We wish to strengthen the democratic features of Hungary without changing the basic structures. It is a sad but historic fact that Hungary has had no considerable traditions of democracy. The development of democracy is a manifold task. Just to give you an example, I would mention the trade unions, which are not independent but autonomous. We take that seriously. We do not pass resolutions that are binding on the unions. Instead, we feel it is up to party members in the unions to convince the people there by argument, and it is a principle we maintain.

Q. What guarantee is there that the achievements of the past 30 years can be preserved in the future?

A. I believe the Hungarian public appreciates the achievements of the past 30 years, that there is law-and-order, that everyone who wants to work can, that the living standards have improved. People are aware of this. They do not talk about it every day--instead, they set claims for what they miss. This is understandable. But if people see our achievements are in danger, they will defend them.

Q. Has it been decided who will be your successor?

A. The succession question is, of course, interesting, but I am not interested in dealing with the question. I believe that more important than the personal issue is that when I leave this job there will be no change in the main line of policy. I am deeply convinced about this. There are several guarantees. Among them the most important is the fact that our present policies have been shaped in open political activity, with masses of people involved.

As for the personal factor, I have always stood for broad autonomy for people in key positions who are my close associates. Under our system we take collective decisions, but the implementation of those decisions is the responsibility of the individual. So I am not too concerned about the succession. In a sense, you know, there is always a successor. Even in 1956 there was one.

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