János Berecz, a senior politician of János Kádár’s one-time communist regime, has died at the age of 91, his son, János Gábor Berecz, said on Facebook on Thursday.
Berecz pursued university studies in Debrecen and Budapest, attended the Academy of Social Sciences of the Soviet Communist Party, and obtained a candidate’s degree in historical studies. His dissertation entitled 1956 Counter-Revolution in Hungary: Words and Weapons was published in 1969, as an apology of the suppression of the 1956 revolution and freedom fight and the subsequent reprisals.
Berecz filled senior posts in the Communist Youth Union. From 1974 he headed the foreign affairs committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (MSZMP).
In 1982 he was appointed editor-in-chief of Népszabadság, the party’s central paper.
In the 1980s he became one of the most influential politicians of the party and was considered a close confidante of Kádár. As a hardline member of the party’s innermost decision-making body, the Political Committee, he tried to block the road to Hungary becoming a multi-party system.
Berecz did not join the new Hungarian Socialist Party that was formed in the spirit of the transition to a multi-party system at the last HSWP congress. Instead, supported by a persistent minority representing the Marxist-Leninist principles and Kádár’s legacy, he re-established the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party. In 1990, in the first free elections, Berecz failed to win a seat in parliament. He left the party in 1991 to start a business. He joined the Hungarian Social Democratic Party in 1997, but left it as early as 1999. After this he retired and wrote several books.