Szonda Ipsos, a Hungarian pollster, has been busy lately. Two days after the the ill-fated gay pride parade in Budapest Az Este, MTV’s late night political program, asked for a quick poll on the public’s reaction to the event.
I don’t think that the results are terribly surprising. More than two-thirds of the people blame the gays for the debacle on Saturday. According to these people the gays should not behave that “provocatively.” Only twenty-one percent of those asked think that what happened was shameful. Sixteen percent don’t know whom they should blame. About twenty percent of the people simply don’t give a hoot one way or the other. Seventy-four percent of those polled believe that the actions of the mob are motivated by hatred or that they want to create an upheaval. However, eighteen percent consider their actions acceptable, even a proper way of expressing one’s opinion. A large majority is convinced that the mob doesn’t really care whom they attack as long as it is a minority. Only fifteen percent think that the gays were the specific targets. About twenty percent of the people haven’t got the foggiest idea what the extreme right really wants.
About half of the people wouldn’t have allowed the radical counterdemonstrators near the parade, but as we know very well the police had no choice in the matter due to the less than perfect legislation concerning street demonstrations. Almost thirty percent of the people would have forbidden all demonstrations on that day. Perhaps the most telling: 75% of the people consider human dignity a more important consideration than freedom of speech. (This is in stark contrast with the opinion of President Sólyom and the Constitutional Court; they seem to think that freedom of speech, where speech sometimes elides with non-vocal actions, cannot be restricted.)
Apparently political sympathy deeply influenced people’s answers to the questions posed by the pollsters. To give an example: at least twenty-five percent of Fidesz sympathizers believed that the counterdemonstrators went there to express their opinions while the great majority of MSZP voters were convinced that most of the anti-gay demonstrators simply intended to cause trouble and that their actions had nothing to do with expressing their opinions about anything.
An article that appeared in Népszabadság today recounts a policeman’s experiences while interrogating those arrested after such street disturbances. This policeman’s conclusions support the opinion that most of these people, between the ages of 20 and 40, don’t have well developed political views although apparently a few even have college degrees. They are terribly confused and, at least according to this policeman, don’t exactly have Mensa IQs.
A few days after the poll on the gay parade, Szonda Ipsos came out with its monthly poll on the popularity of the politicians. This poll shows one interesting statistical trend–that the popularity of politicians in general has been steadily declining. Where in earlier years Árpád Göncz, for example, received over 80 points out of a possible 100 and even Ferenc Mádl, his successor as president, got over 60 points, today László Sólyom must be satisfied with 45 points. Only Fidesz sympathizers gave him 60 points, so one can imagine what the socialists think of him. While a few months ago Fidesz voters gave Viktor Orbán 84 points today he has to be satisfied with 75. He lost quite a few points among the pensioners, the unemployed, and those living in villages.
On the other hand, Gyurcsány’s popularity, although nothing to write home about, is the highest it has been in the last year. He received 30 points. He got 7 extra points from those over the age of 50. He also gained among the inhabitants of the capital. Although a few months ago Orbán was much more popular than Gyurcsány among the pensioners, in this poll Orbán received 38 points and Gyurcsány 39. In Budapest both received 40 points.
Of course, one doesn’t know whether this trend will continue. It may just be, as Fidesz supporters would argue, the proverbial “dead cat bounce.” But today Gallup came out with its latest poll showing that MSZP had gained 2%. Gallup is usually way off in favor of the right. So if Gallup also records a gain for MSZP about two weeks after the other pollsters came out with their results, it seems that the trend has not broken yet.