Many fear the consequences of reporting a corruption case, according to the Transparency International (TI) Global Corruption Barometer. However, still, 69 per cent of Hungarians consider government corruption to be a severe problem, and more than half are dissatisfied with the Hungarian government’s response to the phenomenon.
The survey inquired about the views and experiences of more than 40,000 people in the 27 EU Member States about corruption. The Kantar polling company conducted the study; 901 people were interviewed in Hungary. They worked with a representative sample. The time of the survey was October-November 2020, and the European Union supported the survey.
According to 69 per cent of Hungarian respondents, state corruption is a big or very big problem in Hungary; the EU average is around 62 per cent. In the southern and eastern Member States, the proportion of those who consider public corruption to be a major concern is higher.
Forty per cent of Hungarian respondents perceived an increase in corruption in the recent period, while 30 per cent said it remained the same. More than half of the population believes that the government is not addressing the problem in its proper place, according to Péter Martin József, Managing Director of Transparency International Hungary.
According to 45 per cent of Hungarian respondents, the government acted transparently in measures related to the coronavirus epidemic. Thirty-nine per cent said the government was not transparent in this area. According to József Martin, this clearly shows the division of society. He believes that the non-transparent and non-normative management of tourism subsidies, in particular, was highly suspicious of corruption during this period.
A significant trend is that the police are considered less and less corrupt by Hungarians (only 13 per cent found it a significant problem). The trend has been declining for years, and in comparison, MPs and business leaders are still perceived as corrupt by many.
Interestingly, 18 per cent of respondents said they had paid gratitude money, although there could probably be more people than that, and the latency in this area could be high. But this 18 per cent is also a remarkably high figure compared to the EU.
Overall, 17 per cent of respondents said they had offered a bribe, gift, or favour in exchange for a service before. This is well above the EU average (7 per cent).
Regarding the fight against corruption, Transparency basically drew the following conclusions from the survey results:
- Half of Hungarians do not trust the government.
- Nearly half of Hungarians are afraid of the possible negative consequences of reporting corruption.
- More than half of the population feels that the interests of a narrow circle have captured the state.
48% of the respondents think that they should be afraid if they report a case of corruption. This was lower a few years ago. By “capturing” the state, TI means that, according to a significant number of respondents, the
Hungarian government is not primarily driven by the public good, but by the private interests of certain people.
According to the organisation, the results of the survey lead to the conclusion that
A vicious circle of mistrust and corruption has developed in Hungary.
József Martin talked about the fact that it is clear from previous research that many people turn a blind eye to corrupt people on their “own side” while they are much more critical of those who oppose them.
It is also clear from previous surveys that two-thirds of people in Hungary tolerate corruption, i.e. there is a great deal of apathy (indifference, disinterest) towards the topic. With this two-thirds ratio, we have the highest corruption tolerance index in the EU. According to Transparency, public institutions should be more inclusive; they should serve the public good, not private interests.
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