The New Property System in Tázlár (2000-2005)
The New Property System in Tázlár
Changes in the political context have contributed to falling demand for grapes since the socialist years. After a relatively good year in 2000, the prices paid for the harvest in 2001 were some 50% lower in real terms. It was not surprising, then, that a local Member of Parliament (affiliated to a faction of the Independent Smallholders' Party) tried to organize the growers for political protest. However, it is not easy to mobilize such fragmented groups and the concessions he was able to wring from the government were minimal.
What does all this mean politically? In September 2001 I visited (at his Budapest home) a former Minister of Agriculture from the socialist period, who also served a stint as County Party Secretary in this wine-producing region and identifies strongly with it. The comments and diagnoses of the ex-Minister corresponded in many details with the points made to me throughout the summer by the villagers. Nonetheless, despite all their grumbling about their government, the villagers of Tázlár, like the overwhelming majority of rural Hungarians, voted to keep their existing rulers in power in the highly polarized general election of April 2002. The successful modernization of the later socialist period is viewed by many as a golden age, but the socialists (who nonetheless achieved the narrowest of victories) are still not forgiven for the abuses of the earlier (Stalinist) period, above all for the destruction of the established property system.
More results from this project were published in a comparative analysis with the North Hungarian village of Varsány, studied by Hungarian colleague Mihály Sárkány: see Hann and Sárkány: 'The Great Transformation in Rural Hungary; property, life strategies and living standards', in Hann et al, The Postsocialist Agrarian Question; property relations and the rural condition in Eurasia, LIT 2003. In addition a paper was presented at the Budapest conference on 'post-peasants' in November 2003, from which a publication in Hungarian will ensue.