Our Eponym – Sándor Wekerle

wekerleSándor Wekerle was born on 15th November 1848 in Mór. He studied law and political sciences, and after graduating with a doctoral degree, he continued his studies abroad. After returning home, he started working in the Ministry of Finance, where his talent and excellent skills in finance were soon discovered. He habilitated as a private tutor of finance and administrative law. He was said to be exceptionally knowledgeable in theoretical issues. In 1886 he was appointed the director of the national bank, but he refused this position. However, he became State Secretary for Finance during the ministership of Kálmán Tisza. He also received a seat in Parliament, and established a reputation as an eloquent speaker and a forceful debater. In 1889 he was appointed Minister for Finance, and kept this office even after the fall of the Tisza-cabinet. When count Gyula Szapáry resigned from the office of Prime Minister, Sándor Wekerle became his successor, still retaining the portfolio of finance. His administration is not only known for the rebalancing of public finances and the elimination of budget deficits, but also for initiating the restoration of the currency by re-adopting the gold standard; as well as the re-organisation of the fiscal administration and the taxation system of the dualist state. He is also associated with issuing the laws on sugarand alcohol consumption taxes, tobacco revenues, the redemption of Droit de régale and the conversion of national debt.

Although Sándor Wekerle resigned from the office of Prime Minister in 1894, he was re-appointed by the king in the same year. His work and outstanding conduct in service of the country made him one of the most popular Hungarian statesmen. He was bestowed honorary citizenship by the capital city as well as many other provincial towns. Sándor Wekerle was the first Hungarian prime minister who fought his way up to this high office as a citizen - without significant wealth or connections - merely by his knowledge and skills. He was a practical politician with a European education and a body of ideas. He worked for democratic development, national causes and was successful in fighting against corruption. He was extremely popular among the middle and working classes. In 1910 he resigned from politics, but in 1917 he agreed to form his third cabinet. From 1914 he was the director of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. At the time of the Hungarian Soviet Republic he was sent to prison, later he was held in a sanatorium. He died at the age of 72, on 26th August 1921.

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