Regime Stability and Foreign Policy Change : Interaction between Domestic and Foreign Policy in Hungary 1956-1994

Sammanfattning: Domestic and foreign policy cannot always be kept apart. A change of Government at national level may impact on foreign policy, and foreign policy adventures sometimes translate into consequences at home. Links between domestic and foreign policy may be limiting as well as enabling factors for Governments who find themselves at the cross-roads between national and international power. This study combines theory about political stability, at national level, with theory about foreign policy change, focusing on (1) strategies used by the political leaders to build and maintain political stability, (2) change in foreign policy, and (3) links between the two. The degree of political stability in a country, it is argued, depends on the extent to which key groups accept the regime and on the existence of credible alternatives to the current regime. The leaders may resort to different strategies to become accepted, focusing on legitimacy, performance or coercion. Foreign policy change is analysed in five areas, namely regime stability, security, trade and economic policy, national identity, and autonomy. It is explained on the basis of a theoretical framework that sees foreign policy change, or the lack of it, as the outcome of a struggle between ?promoters of change? and ?stabilisers of foreign policy?, at various levels. The analysis of the links between foreign policy change and strategies to achieve political stability has been inspired by theories about the two-level game, ?adaptation? and the ?two faces of state action?. Empirically the study covers Hungarian politics during close to forty years (1956-94). This period comprises three distinct phases ? the ?Kádár era? (1956-88), the fall of the Socialist regime and transition to democracy (1988-90) and the first years of democratic governance (1990-94). It points to a shift in legitimation strategies under János Kádár, away from coercion as a prime instrument and focusing more on performance, mainly in economic terms. This strategy was supported by opening up towards the West, first in the area of trade but later also on more sensitive issues, such as the security doctrine. While political stability was achieved for some time, these strategies hit back. Unsuccessful economic reforms, the emergence of a political alternative, the regime's loss of belief in its right to rule and, finally, change in Moscow under Gorbachev, undermined the Socialist regime and led to a process of democratisation starting in 1989. Under democracy, the first Government hoped to base political stability more on legitimacy than on performance. This strategy was unsuccessful in the sense that the Government fell, although the political system as such was never under threat. Foreign policy continued to change in a more dramatic way, although such change can be seen as a logical continuation of a direction which had been defined already under the Socialist regime. Under democracy, links between domestic and foreign policy continued to be strong. Hungary pushed for rapid accession to NATO and the EU to promote security, political stability and economic prosperity as the country liberated itself from its previous dependence on Moscow.