Hungary country brief


Hungary is a landlocked country in Central Europe bordered by Slovakia to the north, Austria and Slovenia to the west, Croatia and Serbia to the south, and Romania and Ukraine to the east and north-east. The population of Hungary is just under 10 million (2014). The capital is Budapest.

Hungarians celebrate their national or State day on 20 August each year, known as the Day of the Foundation of the State of Hungary and St Stephen's Day (after Hungary's first king). Hungary also celebrates national days on 23 October (commemorating the outbreak of the 1956 Uprising and the proclamation of the Hungarian Republic in 1989) and 15 March (commemorating the 1848-49 Revolution and War of Independence).

Political overview

System of Government

Hungary has a democratically-elected, unicameral parliament, the National Assembly. The 199 members of parliament are elected under a combined system of party lists and single member electoral constituencies.

Political developments

Parliamentary elections were last held on 6 April 2014, the seventh elections since the end of the communist era in Hungary. The governing Fidesz-Christian Democratic People's Party (KDNP) coalition was re-elected and won 133 seats, but lost its two-thirds majority in February 2015 after a by-election. Major legislative changes undertaken by the Fidesz-KDNP Government since 2010 have included a new Constitution, media, banking and religious laws. Aspects of these laws have been subject to criticism, both within Hungary and from other EU Member States and the European Commission.

Hungary's current Prime Minister is Viktor Orbán. He has been Prime Minister since May 2010. Mr Orbán is a founding member of the Fidesz Party. The current President, Dr János Áder, took up office on 2 May 2012. The President, elected by the Parliament every five years, has a largely non-political role. The President does, however, have the right to send proposed legislation back to Parliament for reconsideration, or to the Constitutional Court for a review of its constitutionality.

Hungary is a member of the United Nations (1955), World Trade Organization (one of the founding members), the International Monetary Fund (1982), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) (1973), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (1996), NATO (1999) and the European Union (2004). Hungary is also a member of the EU's visa-free zone, the Schengen Area, which it joined in December 2007.

Hungary is a member of the Visegrad Four, with Poland, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. This is an unofficial grouping of the four Central European countries which aims to promote closer cooperation between the four countries.

Economic overview

Hungary joined the EU in 2004. It is not a member of the Eurozone. Its currency is the Hungarian Forint (HUF). GDP in 2014 was at US$ 137 billion, and is projected to be US$ 118.5 billion in 2015. GDP per capita in 2014 was at 25,019 (US$ at PPP).

The Hungarian economy is closely tied to the fortunes of the leading eurozone economies, especially Germany. About three quarters of Hungary's exports go to EU countries, primarily Germany, Austria, Romania, France and Italy. Russia is an important trading partner, supplying most of Hungary's natural gas and other energy needs.

Following a moderate recovery in 2010 and 2011 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, and a recession in 2012, Hungary’s GDP grew by 1.5 per cent in 2013, 3.6 per cent in 2014 and 3 per cent in 2015. While Hungarian GDP recovered in 2014, it was still below its 2008 pre-crisis level by about 1%. Unemployment (at 7.3 per cent in 2015) is down to a near-record low, and Government deficit is expected to remain within the EU's required deficit to GDP ratio of 3 percent between 2014 and 2016.

Bilateral relationship

Hungary and Australia enjoy friendly, co-operative relations with strong people to people links as a result of the large numbers of Hungarians who migrated to Australia in the twentieth century, especially following the 1956 Uprising against the Soviet occupation of Hungary. At the time of the 2011 Census, there were 69,163 people in Australia declared that they were of Hungarian ancestry.

Australia established full diplomatic relations with Hungary in 1972. Hungary has an Embassy in Canberra and Consulates in Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia. Since October 2013, the Australian Ambassador to Hungary has been accredited from Vienna.

Bilateral agreements between Australia and Hungary include treaties on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition (1997) and an agreement on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy and the Transfer of Nuclear Material (2002). A bilateral Social Security Agreement was signed in June 2011. Australia's economic relations with Hungary are facilitated by a bilateral Double Taxation Agreement and an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement.

High-level visits

High-level visits between Australia and Hungary have served to develop bilateral relations. In March 2012, a Parliamentary Delegation led by the Speaker of the House of Representatives visited Budapest. Former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd visited Hungary in June 2011. Australia's former Minister for Veterans' Affairs, the Hon Bruce Billson MP, represented Australia at the official commemorations of the fiftieth anniversary of the 1956 Uprising in October 2006.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Laszló Kövér, visited Australia in November 2014. Deputy Prime Minister of Hungary, Dr Zsolt Semjén, visited Australia in October 2013 to open an upgraded Hungarian Consulate in Melbourne. Dr Semjén also visited in 2011. Hungary's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr Zsolt Németh, visited Australia with a business delegation in April 2013. The then-President of Hungary, Dr László Sólyom, visited Australia in September-October 2009. The First Deputy Speaker of the Hungarian Parliament, Mr László Mandur, visited Australia in November 2009.

Bilateral economic and trade relationship

Hungary's position in Europe and its relative lack of natural resources explains its traditional reliance on foreign trade.

The total volume of merchandise trade between Australia and Hungary is overwhelmingly in Hungary's favour. Total two-way merchandise trade in 2014-15 was valued at A$515 million, with Australian imports totalling A$491 million, comprising mainly passenger motor vehicles (A$152 million). The main Australian exports to Hungary in 2014-15 included medicaments (A$14 million) and computer parts and accessories (A$3 million).

Australian investment stock in Hungary was A$350 million in 2014. Hungarian investment in Australia was estimated at A$26 million. For information on doing business in Hungary, please see the Austrade website.

Last updated: January 2016

Last Updated: 5 September 2013