Although the survey is not about party politics, it is worth mentioning that John McCain, chairman of the organization, has a definite opinion about Viktor Orbán, as he called him a neo-fascist dictator in 2014. When the senator was competing with Barack Obama for being president in 2008, the Hungarian head of government said the Republican candidate had more chance to win because he was “a national hero in the most ancient sense of the word”.
The survey made in March but published only now was interested in what Hungarians think about the country’s domestic politics and international situation. Ipszos helped IRI, and the survey included personally asking a thousand people’s opinion.
According to the survey’s first chart, half of the Hungarians believe that Hungary is heading in the wrong direction, while 38 per cent thinks otherwise.
It is more crushing when asking people if the youth has a good future in Hungary: 26 per cent answered yes, while 74 per cent no.
People seem to disagree on what Hungary currently needs. 45 per cent think it is stability and continuity, which means that the current government should stay in power, while 50 per cent wants change. 39 per cent of the latter would change the whole government, but there is another opinion as well: 23 per cent would only change the internal leadership of governing party Fidesz by letting in new members. Relatively many people (38%) want constitutional, systemic change.
Generations have different opinions on this matter. 27 per cent of people aged 18-29 would settle for the current opposition party to govern, while 45 per cent wants a more serious, systemic change. This rate is the other way round among people above 60: 55 per cent wants to change only the government, while 28 per cent the whole system.
The government’s pride in trouble
One of the most interesting results of this survey is what Hungarian people consider to be the biggest problem in Hungary. Surveys like this tend to offer several answers from which the interviewees can choose; this time, however, interviewees had to give their own answers.
Most of them (28%) believe the biggest problem is poverty and social inequality, this is followed by corruption (15%) and unemployment (13%). The fact that so many people consider unemployment a huge problem in Hungary seems to contradict that unemployment data the government always proudly quotes.
It is also telling that although László Kövér believes that Hungarian healthcare is world-class, 12 per cent of Hungarians think the condition of healthcare is Hungary’s biggest problem. Compared to these four biggest problems, the other ones seem to be dwarfed by them: the government’s always hot topic – immigration control – is only considered a big problem by 4 per cent. This question is further shaded by the fact that people think it is more of Europe’s problem than that of Hungary. 19 per cent think this is the continent’s biggest problem, while 26 per cent believe it is terrorism.
Answers were also remarkable to the question of what has the greatest likelihood of threatening our way of life and our children’s future. Most of the people (34%) believe it is bankruptcy and the disappearance of health and social security systems, but another 28 per cent think it is terrorism, extremism and political violence.
It seems that the two-year-long mantra of the government was also effective, as almost a fifth of Hungarians (19%) think that the demographic change of the country is a real threat. It is also contradicted by the fact that only 3 per cent are afraid of the country losing its culture and values.
Half of the Hungarians don’t believe Putin
A number of questions deal with where Hungarians see their country between the East and the West. One of them asked the interviewees to rate on a scale from 1 to 5 if Hungary has more in common with Western Europe or with Russia in a few areas.
Regarding healthcare, pensions and other social benefits, only 30 per cent think that the Hungarian system is identical with the Western European countries, and 16 per cent consider it similar. However, twice as many people think it is identical with or similar to the situation in Russia. Again a 19 per cent of the Hungarians believe that their standard of living is similar to that of the Western countries, while 37 per cent think it is more similar to the standard of living in Russia.
Regarding morality and values, a greater number of Hungarians think they are closer to Western Europe than to Russia. It is also interesting that about a third of the interviewees answered to all the questions that Hungary is somewhere inbetween the West and Russia.
The East vs. West debate is a long-lasting topic in Hungarian public life, and it became more and more significant last year. Moreover, it can be the most significant question of the elections of 2018.
From a geopolitical point of view, it is not surprising either that the American survey dealt with how the Hungarians see Russia. There was an idea that Putin tries to make Russia the protector of the traditional European values against the Islam. 49 per cent of the Hungarians responded that it was only cynicism and the politics of Kreml consider only their own values, while 18 per cent thought this idea is real.
Many think the fence is a wrong idea
Those people who thought that Russia was protecting Europe were asked further about what cooperation they imagine with the Russians. Most of them (35%) responded that some kind of cooperation is conceivable with Russia, but they do not trust Putin and people need to be careful with him. 30 per cent said that though they do not agree on many topics with the European Union, they do not think that Russia should influence the politics of the EU to any extent. A fourth of the interviewees believes that Russia may be Hungary’s ally against the European Union if it tries to pressurize the country.
This survey also dealt with the question of what Hungarians think which foreign countries Hungary should make closer relations with. Most of the interviewees think Hungary should get closer rather to the European Union, Germany, Great Britain and the United States than to Russia or China.
Regarding the topics of the international situation, the researchers were also curious about what Hungarians thought about the border barrier. 52 per cent said it was a bad idea to close the international borders, since the country cannot solve its problems on its own. They think it is rather the European Union and the NATO that should stop the migration and fight terrorism. (It is interesting that the questions of the survey mention migration and terrorism together, just like the government’s national consultation two years ago.)
However, 48 per cent of the Hungarians thought that Hungary’s problems can only be solved if the borders are closed, independently of what effects it has for the free moving of the European citizens.
Most people trust RTL Klub
The survey also dealt with the media, more precisely with how Hungarians react to the political news. Half of the Hungarians get the political news from commercial television and radio, 27 per cent from public television and radio, 20 per cent from online news sources, while 3 per cent form major newspapers. The sources also differ regarding generations: only 2 per cent of people above 60 use online news sources, however, this rate is 41 per cent among people aged 18-29.
Bad news for Andy Vajna: most Hungarians (44%) consider RTL Klub to be the most reliable news source, while only 25 per cent think it is TV2. In this respect, the situation of public televisions is not promising either: only 28 per cent of the interviewees think that M1, Duna and Duna World are the most reliable sources of news.
Among news portals, Origo is first (12%), Index is second (10%). They are followed by a tie between 24.hu and HVG (both 6%), and the last one is 444.hu with 4%. Figyelő, Magyar Idők, Magyar Nemzet and Heti Válasz mean reliable sources of news for only 1-1% of Hungarians.
The whole survey is available on the following link.
Source: index.hu, iri.org