2.3 Cultural policy objectives
Since 1990, when the first free elections took place, the pendulum of cultural policy priorities swung to the right and to the left at four year intervals; this regularity was broken in 2006 when, for the first time, the same "side" was re-elected. Some of the principles correspond to the clichés associated with the political notions of "right" and "left": conservative administrations put greater emphasis on national heritage and pride and on the cultural links with Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries. A marked re-centralisation process occurred between 1998 and 2002, during the "centre-right" administration. It was during this period that culture enjoyed the highest relative ranking among overall priorities of the government in the past 30-40 years. The schism between the two "sides" reached its peak at the 2002 Parliamentary elections and flared up again in the autumn of 2006; the efforts to shelter culture from political and ideological influences have not yielded lasting and overall success.
The 2006-2010 period was characterised by increasing economic and social crisis in Hungary – aggravated but not really caused by the world crisis. Those years did not favour concerted action for culture. Cultural policy concentrated on a few selected areas - legislation about investment in film making, on financing the performing arts, as well as on larger scale showcase events abroad and exhibitions at home. Also, finding and exploiting opportunities for culture to benefit from the EU Structural Funds was a strategic task.
The advent of the System of National Cooperation in the result of the parliamentary elections in the spring of 2010 brought about fundamental changes also in cultural policies. On a longer scale, changes in culture are subject to more general processes in the system of taxation, local governments etc. In the short term, the primordial efforts of the government to reduce the accumulated public debts cast a shadow on almost every aspect of cultural policies.