Although Hungary's leadership is watching events in neighboring Poland with obvious unease, government officials insist that Polish-style labor unrest is unlikely to spill over here.
Senior officials here privately make it clear that neither Hungary nor any other socialist country in Eastern Europe is prepared to accept the notion of independent trade unions, and no such development is seen in Hungary.
Hungarian officials say they are in a better position than Poland because the Janos Kadar government has been changing its economic policies over the last two decades, abandoning the most rigid aspects of centralized planning and introducing profit motive and realistic prices.
In fact, Hungarian stores are loaded with food and other consumer goods, and Kadar had been conciliatory in trying to build broad public support for his policies.
More worrisome for Hungarians than labor unrest is that Poland's trade union movement could break that country's bank, bring on outside intervention and produce a sharp deterioration in East-West relations.
For small countries such as Hungary, whose exports account for about 40 percent of its gross national product, such developments would carry distinct dangers. Half of Hungary's $10 billion is annual exports goes to the West, and only about 30 percent to the Soviet Bloc nations.
The Hungarians hope that the Polish crisis will lead to meaningful economic reforms in Poland. Hungarian sources hint that those reforms could parallel the Hungarian model and that they could develop into reforms for all of Comecon, the Soviet Bloc economic community.
Officials here scoff at the notion that the events in Poland could lead to a general crisis of the communist system. They say that Poland's problems are partly due to economic and administrative mismanagement. They add that the main source of difficulty is Poland's agriculture and its inability to meet the needs of the Polish population.
After all, the officials say with some smugness, the West has always considered positive the fact that 80 percent of Poland's agriculture is in private hands. Only 3 percent of Hungary's agriculture is private.
Most of Hungary's agriculture is organized in cooperatives. But the Hungarians have introduced both free and state markets for agricultural commodities, and the cooperative system is run on the basis of profit-sharing and bonuses for high performance.
Given the incentives, Hungary's agriculture is booming. In contrast to Poland and the Soviet Union, for example, Hungary not only has an abundance of food for its domestic market, but its food exports have become the principal source of foreign exchange.
Also unlike their Comecon partners, the Hungarians have kept their prices close to world levels and have deliberately scaled down most of their capital investments and growth targets.
All this was done incrementally and without steps that could offend Moscow. As a result, Hungary today is a picture of economic and social stability in the Soviet Bloc.
Still, authorities here are reported to have taken precautionary measures to make sure that the Polish infection would not spread to Hungary. There were reports, according to diplomats, that Hungarian workers in some enterprises here have discussed Polish events and demands for independent trade unions. But sources say that this is a long way from any even embryonic movement in the Polish direction.