Something happened in Hungary: The latest opinion polls

After the elections–as often happens–the new government’s popularity soared. In fact, when asked, more people claimed that they voted for Fidesz than actually did. The government’s popularity remained high throughout the summer and received another boost after the municipal elections when practically all cities and towns were painted orange, the Fidesz color. About a month ago Szonda Ipsos reported that Fidesz had gained in popularity. At the end of October Medián’s poll indicated that optimism about the future was growing in Hungary.

A few days after the publication of a flurry of public opinion polls showing stability in Fidesz’s popularity, there were slight, very slight signs of an impending shift. The first article that appeared in HVG described a change in the “net mood.” NRC Market Research found “a significant effect of the raid of the private pension funds” on the mood of people who use the Internet. The NetMood Index fell from 36, about the same level as after the elections, to 29. This drop occurred in one month, November. This was the first instance since 2006 of such a precipitous drop. The details of the survey can be found in HVG.

Another piece of news that caught my eye was a Medián survey that became known on December 11 that specifically inquired about people’s attitudes toward curbing the authority of the constitutional court and levying extra taxes on banks and other mostly foreign companies. I wasn’t terribly surprised that over 70% of the people approved of the tax levies, but I found it encouraging that only 39% of those asked approved of the Orbán government’s attack on the constitutional court. Encouraging because one can read article after article about the uselessness of attacking the government for its undemocratic behavior. After all, the authors of these articles claim, people care only about their pocketbooks. It seems that this is not the case.

After these initial signs of a shift in public opinion, yesterday and today two polls appeared. The first one, Tárki, was the standard monthly survey asking people what they would do if elections were held this Sunday. Tárki’s conclusion is that Fidesz is still leading by a mile but the number of its supporters has shrunk from 49% to 43%. MSZP’s base didn’t change, but those who were unsure or refused to answer has grown from 31% to 35%. So, those who voted for Fidesz in April and most likely in October didn’t move over to MSZP but are sitting on the fence. These figures apply to the whole adult population. However, even among the decided voters Fidesz lost supporters. Last month 71% claimed that they would definitely vote and that they would vote for Fidesz. This month this number is only 67%, a drop that is considered to be statistically significant. MSZP’s devoted voters moved from 14% to 17%, a slight change.

Medián’s questions were perhaps more revealing. They asked people which party they definitely wouldn’t vote for. While six months ago 21% of those asked considered Fidesz the party they would under no circumstances vote for, today it is 32%. Also, it is the first time since the elections that a majority of the people consider the government’s performance weak. In November 51% were satisfied with the government, today only 45%.

Medián inquired about people’s expectations for the future. Two months ago 48% of the people were optimistic, today only 39%. These are very significant numbers and therefore it’s no wonder that Dow Jones Newswire gave the following title to the article reporting on the results: “Popularity of Hungary’s Ruling Party Plummets.”

According to analysts this trend is going to continue, especially when people receive their paychecks for January and it turns out that the “huge tax cuts” amount to practically nothing for about 50% of wage earners. They might be particularly furious if and when they see all the extra money going into the pockets of well-off politicians as a result of the 16% “flat” tax and, in some cases, the very generous deductions for dependents. I doubt that too many Hungarians will see anything close to the 45% monthly windfall that the prime minister is getting.

For those whose Hungarian is not swinging, “bruttó” is gross, “eltartottak száma” means number of dependents, “nettó összeg” is take home pay, and “különbség” is difference.

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Guest

That’s really nice!
Every minister gets at least 30 % more if I calculte correctly – wonder if and what the press will report on this …
My wife was right when she said that Orban is the greatest a**hole of all the loonie politicians in Hungary

Rigó Jancsi
Guest

I guess the 1.6 million Ft. are only the prime minister netto salary and not Orbán’s complete income, are they?

GW
Guest

Rigó Jancsi: that’s an excellent question. On a salary of less than 6000 Euros a month as PM and less than that while a MP, how could Orbán have bought the land and built a house in Kútvölgyi, Budapest XII?

An
Guest

And the last prime minister, Bajnai, did the job for 1 Ft, as the budget needed to be put in order…
Well, I guess, the hard times are over. Wait, then why OV needed to impose those extra taxes on certain sectors, and channel back the private pension monies into the state budget?

Minusio
Guest

Well, well. I wouldn’t get too excited. Even though there seems to be a downward trend for Fidesz, most changes are almost within the range of normal statistical errors. And in some countries, opinion polls are more difficult to conduct than in others. Hungary is one of them. – In addition, one shouldn’t forget that Orbán is now in a position where he doesn’t really have to care about what people think. He has changed the system. (I used the term “change of paradigm” before, but not many seem to understand it.) Don’t forget that change when you expect new elections and there aren’t any (or only rigged ones).

kormos
Guest

Ms. Balogh
Is the “Net amount” in the table monthly or yearly remuneration?
Thanks:

Minusio
Guest

I thought the topic was the latest opinion polls. But everybody seems to be getting off on a tangent about how much higher income brackets will profit from the tax “reform”. We knew all that months ago, and that the top politicians are included in this income range. Perhaps the two topics shouldn’t have been combined.

Rigó Jancsi
Guest

@ Minusio: Why are polls more difficult in Hungary than in other countries?

Vidra
Guest

The difference between the 21% “before” and the 32% “now” who would never vote for FIDESZ is certainly statistically significant, assuming a standard sample of 1-2000 voters – as a rule of thumb, anything over 5% will be significant (below that point it depends…),
What’s important is the changes over time, not the relative ease of polling compared with, say, the USA or UK. And all the companies carrying out opinion polls in Hungary sign up to the same code of conduct over methodology and reporting as other European survey companies – it’s the politicians and the press who don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Krisztamami
Guest

… and let’s not forget: Gyurcsany did not take any salary when he was PM.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Kormos: “Ms. Balogh Is the “Net amount” in the table monthly or yearly remuneration? Thanks”
Monthly.

Joe Simon
Guest

A helpful comparison, Merkel German Kancellar receives 18.OOO Euros a month.
Bush’s yearly take was $4OO.OOO. The Canadian Prime Minister gets $3OO.OOO/yr.
A member of Parliament $15O.OOO plus.
Finally any one of us here in Canada or US has I am sure at least a million forints per month if our income was converted.
So those Hungarian figures arenot really outrageous.

An
Guest

@Joe Simon: Another useful comparison: the average Hungarian monthly wage currently is 200700 Ft so Orban’s salary is about 10 times the average. In the US in 2004 the average salary was an annual $60,528, so Bush’s salary was about 7 times the average.
I agree, this may not be that outrageous. But what is that they promise a tax cut for everybody, and then they introduce a tax cut from which the poorest won’t benefit, but they themselves will benefit heftily.

Mutt Damon
Guest

Gosh, this is sooo Hungarian again .. Gossiping about other people’s salaries. Oh for crissake, everybody with the same income got the increase.
I would rather ask the knowledgeable colleagues on the blog to explain how will a middle class tax cut help the economy in a country that lives on import. Unless they spend it all on Tokay Aszu (what else there that’s Hungarian made?) this will flow out of the country.

An
Guest

@Mutt Damon:”Gosh, this is sooo Hungarian again .. Gossiping about other people’s salaries.”
Paid by the Hungarian taxpayers, I would add.

An
Guest

@Mutt Damon: Also, I do not think that the actual figures are the issue here, but the hypocrisy with which they promised a substantial tax cut to everybody and then gave substantial tax cuts to the well-to-do, including themselves. All financed by levying extra taxes on foreign corporations and taking aways 3 million people’s pension savings.

Mutt Damon
Guest

@An Their idea is that tax cut will stimulate the economy. Sure they can work for 1 forint a year, but what difference does that make? By the way they are not as wealthy as Fleto.
The subject here rather should be why the tax reform will not work and what happens after.

An
Guest

@Mutt Demon: Sure, that we will see. And that is an issue that is going to come back and bite them.
I do find OV’s populist hypocrisy a big issue though. Most of what he’s done so far is very self-serving, but he is a master of throwing dust into people’s eyes about how he has the average person’s interest at heart. He doesn’t. What’s worse, he doesn’t have the country’s interest at heart. He is a self-serving hypocrite.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

An: “But what is that they promise a tax cut for everybody, and then they introduce a tax cut from which the poorest won’t benefit, but they themselves will benefit heftily.”
I don’t care how much Orbán makes as a prime minister or how much Demjén or Csányi are making. The problem is the flat tax which benefits only the rich. This is just an example how lopsided the new tax code is.

Kevin Moore
Guest

“The problem is the flat tax which benefits only the rich.”
Benefits the “rich” compared to the tax system before. That is, when the “rich” (those who earn more, and often rightfully so because their work is more valuable) were punished by the lopsided tax system.
Pretty ridiculous when you label a flat tax system lopsided. Needs a really weird twist of the mind to come up with such a distorted concept.

Öcsi
Guest

Well, Kevin, why not have “flat prices?”
What about 25% of your yearly income to buy a car? Or 0.25% of your yearly income to attend an opera?

GDF
Guest

Joe Simon: “A helpful comparison…Bush’s yearly take was $4OO.OOO. ”
Let’s compare the responsibilities of Bush (or Obama, because the President is paid the same salary, regardless of his/her party affiliation) with those of Orban: 315 million citizens vs. 10 million, a territory that is more than a hundred times larger etc. All these considered (ncluding many other items in the etc. above) the American President is grossly underpaid, compared to the Hungarian Prime Minister…

GDF
Guest

KM:”Pretty ridiculous when you label a flat tax system lopsided. Needs a really weird twist of the mind to come up with such a distorted concept.”
It seems the most of the world has this “weird twist of the mind” because according to Wikipedia only the following countries have flat tax now: Bosnia/Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Albania, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Guernsey, Kazakhstan, Iceland, Iraq, Jersey, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mongolia, Montenegro, Mauritius, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine. Creme de la creme. And now Hungary will join this exclusive club…

Kirsten
Guest

@Kevin Moore: “those who earn more, and often rightfully so because their work is more valuable”.
How can you be so sure? Why should differences in pay be “rightful”? Applied to countries with different income you suggest that the work of people in poorer countries is “rightfully” less valuable than that of people who happen to be born in rich countries even if they do practically the same?

Pete H.
Guest

@Kevin Moore: “those who earn more, and often rightfully so because their work is more valuable”.
Tell that to a teacher or a professor. Their work is very valuable yet undervalued.

Kevin Moore
Guest

I never said that each and every salary is just. You again failed to read carefully. I only said a higher salary often means more valuable work.
Öcsi: your concept completely nullifies all differences in salary. How could you tell the differences between work value then?
By the way, just to name one example, in Finland, traffic fines work exactly the way you described. Offenders must pay amounts proportional to their income to ensure that penalties have their effect.
Kristen: we’re not aiming at solving the world equation here. Not even at achieving world peace and solving the problems of the third world.
Behind your question there is the conventional leftist thinking. And it shines through why the left is completely unable to come up with anything suitable for this world. Because if you eradicate all differences, you lose the key principle of everybody having to be rewarded according to his deserts. You kill the differences, you kill the motivation to do more and work more. Why should the able do more if they get ripped off and why should the less able put any effort into anything if they get rewarded anyway?
Socialism and communism shows how your thinking is unworkable.

Vladimir
Guest

What I also find somewhat interesting is so few dependents of these powerful pols (excepting OV and SZs) who are “traditionalists”. Normally the childless and one-child families are seen with the left-of-center where feminist spouses are tolerated. Even Tony and Cherie Blair made time to have 4 children. Is it possible that the chart didn’t account for the others on the list?

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Vladimir: “Even Tony and Cherie Blair made time to have 4 children. Is it possible that the chart didn’t account for the others on the list?”
They just don’t have children under the age of eighteen. They are grown-ups already.

Kirsten
Guest
@Kevin Moore: “Because if you eradicate all differences, you lose the key principle of everybody having to be rewarded according to his deserts.” I do not intend to doubt differences, in abilities or in effort or dedication. But what I do doubt is that there could exist a clear ranking of the value of work. From what you said I infer that you consider yourself to be liberal or conservative (the definition of that I leave to you), so that the “market” will not be an alien concept to you. So you certainly know that the market outcome is a market outcome and depends very much on the circumstances. It is not a moral instance. Therefore I can doubt that even a market outcome in pay (or in price) has to be interpreted as “just” (or unjust). Precisely because there are differences also in tastes, ideas and preferences between us (which you emphasised), there is no such thing as an unambiguous ranking in value (including of the value of particular work). Your principle of everybody getting what he deserves assumes that such unambiguous ranking exists and that it is exogenous, which (I am sorry to say that) is part of… Read more »
Kevin Moore
Guest
No, assuming that a value ranking exists has nothing to do with communist or authoritarian thinking. These are completely different and even disjunct concepts. Assuming a value ranking is one of the key principles behind right-wing thinking. And the world, as it works and as we know today, is based on this principle. Everything has an assigned value, be it any resource, work force or material thing. If the assigned value is “just” or “right” is another question. But the value is mostly based on – while we’re at it because you mentioned “market” – supply and demand. If there is a shortage for something, its “value” rises. If my education and experience empowers me to do a work that only a few percent of the population can do, the supply is low and the value is high. Thus, “value” of my work is basically a reflection of how many people could substitute me in my task. And I’m happy at this situation because I think I’ve invested a lot of effort into educating myself to a level where my work is valued much higher than of those who, let’s say, sweep the streets. This doesn’t mean street sweepers were… Read more »
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