A European survey shows that anti-migration feelings have not grown in most of Europe since the migrant crisis, while in Hungary, thanks to government propaganda, anti-migrant feelings are five times higher than the EU average.
Index reports about the findings of the European Social Survey, regarding nations’ attitudes towards migration.
The ESS is the most important and most trustworthy representative survey in Europe, following strict research guidelines, writes Index. Researchers have been looking into questions regarding migration since 2002 every two years. This way, the change in attitudes can be catalogued constantly and realistically.
Two Hungarian researchers, Vera Messing and Bence Ságvári, have analysed the data, concluding the following in brief:
- The 2015 migrant crisis did not change the European public opinion radically; it is not true that people became fed up with the idea of receiving migrants;
- Anti-migration feelings have grown mostly in areas where migrants barely arrived to;
- The difference between the closed East and the open West is becoming more and more clear-cut;
- General opinion in Hungary is the most rejecting in Europe;
- Supporters of Fidesz and the right-wing in Hungary despise migration more dramatically than the right-wing populists of Western-Europe;
- Even the opposition left is more anti-migration than the Le Pen in France or the AfD in Germany, or any other radical right-wing parties in Western-Europe.
Orbán says that the main division between European nations is migration: one either supports it or not, everything else is less important.
It has to be noted that the statistics discussed below are based on the 2016-17 ESS findings. Index argues that it is possible that anti-migration feelings have grown Europe-wide since then, but if we take reason into account, it is unlikely that radical change has happened in these past two years, since the crisis has eased.
The most important finding of the survey is that attitudes towards migration are neutral in the long run: most of the European countries examined share more or less the same view on the benefits and drawbacks of migration. Besides, these views were stable throughout the years; in most nations anti-migration feelings have not grown.
On the contrary, some countries became more accepting of migration, given that both parties respect particular terms.
Among these are Portugal (profoundly affected by the 2015 migrant crisis), Ireland, and even the United Kingdom.
What about the regions where migration was accepted from the beginning? For example, in Sweden, which is now looked upon as a no-go zone by the Hungarian government media, positive feelings towards migration have not changed radically. The same is the situation in Norway and Switzerland.
Messing and Ságvári argue that Hungary belongs to a different category when it comes to the growth of anti-migration feelings. This attitude was already strong in 2014, but since then it is soaring, making Hungary not only more hostile towards migration than the countries mentioned above but even surpassing Russia, Turkey and Israel.
The comparison with the latter three countries is important, as the study says, “migrants arriving from outside of Europe are entirely different, they pose a bigger threat”.
According to the survey, two-thirds of the Hungarians participating in the survey would not allow anyone arriving from a more impoverished, non-European country into Hungary. In 2012, 39% of Hungarians shared this opinion, but this had reached 62% by the time the study was prepared. The second most rejecting country is the Czech Republic, with half of these numbers.
Ságvári commented that hostility and negative feelings have grown in Hungary mostly because of the government propaganda, which was nowhere near as strong anywhere else in Europe as in Hungary. While in most countries anti-migration stances are taken by the radical populist parties, in Hungary (and Hungary is unique in this sense) the leading party, Fidesz, does this.
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