Hungarian public opinion on Viktor Orbán’s “war of independence”

It is an open secret that some leading European politicians worry about adopting too stringent a stance toward the Orbán government in case of a backlash. Their fear, which is fed by the Hungarian government itself, is that too sharp a condemnation of Viktor Orbán and his regime might actually strengthen the prime minister’s hand and at the same time turn the majority of the population against the European Union.

I always thought that such fears were exaggerated. Viktor Orbán has been waging a war of words against the European Union for more than three years by now and, according to the latest polls, more than 50% of the population still think that there is no life for Hungary outside of the European Union. If the hard propaganda of recent years didn’t manage to make a greater dent in the EU’s popularity in Hungary, it is unlikely that a continuation of the same will greatly change the public mood.

Now thanks to Medián, perhaps the most reliable Hungarian polling firm, we have a more detailed description of Hungarian attitudes toward Viktor Orbán’s “war of independence.” Or perhaps one should describe Orbán’s attitude toward the outside world not as a single war of independence but rather as several wars directed against different entities, the European Union being just one of them. Admittedly, perhaps it is the most important target because the Union does have the power, however limited, to have a direct say about the governance of a member country.

Endre Hann, the CEO of Medián, just released a poll taken in June that shows that only 24% of the adult population think that these wars of independence are necessary. Most likely people would find it surprising, given Jobbik’s vehemently anti-Union rhetoric, that only 26% of Jobbik voters consider a war against the Union either necessary or desirable. The majority of Fidesz voters support their leader, but 32% of them still doubt the efficacy of such a strategy. So, says Hann, it is unlikely that this latest assault on the European Union in Strasbourg will translate into more support for Viktor Orbán.

Let’s look at some details of this poll. First, Medián listed seven potential “enemies” of Hungary: the IMF, international financial circles, international credit rating agencies, the European Union, multinational companies operating in Hungary, the United States, and Germany. Among these seven the least popular is the IMF. Almost half of the population (46%) think that Hungary must defend itself from the IMF. The nearly one-year-long “peacock dance” with and against the International Monetary Fund obviously made an impression, especially since government propaganda tried to convince the population that the IMF made all sorts of demands on the country. Medián also broke the figures down further. They ascertained that among those who support Orbán’s war of independence 71% percent considered the IMF the chief enemy. International financial groups and the international credit rating institutions followed close behind. And then came the “lesser” enemies.

Who are Hungary's "enemies"?

Who are Hungary’s “enemies”?

As you can see from the first graph, 70% of Hungarians are opposed to Orbán’s war against Brussels. It is perhaps even more significant that half of those who in general support a forceful defense of Hungarian national interests think that the European Union should not be the target. When it comes to the United States and Germany, the numbers who support Orbán are insignificant.

Finally, Medián broke down the data by party preference. It was to be expected that Fidesz voters, on the whole, would support Viktor Orbán in his fight against the enemies of Hungary, but even they are not wholehearted supporters of the idea. The size of the group that has no opinion is fairly high, which might mean a degree of hesitation on their part.

Is the government's war of indepenence necessary?

Is the government’s war of independence necessary?

There is nothing surprising about the voters of MSZP, Együtt 2014, and other smaller parties (which also includes DK), but the figures for those “without party” is highly significant. It is unlikely that Fidesz could get much support from this group at election time. The percentage of those who oppose Viktor Orbán’s foreign policy–if you can call his war of independence a foreign policy– is very close to the figure for voters of the opposition parties. That doesn’t bode well for Fidesz.

In brief, this poll shows that the European Union, which has every reason to regard Viktor Orbán as a menace and a danger to the democratic governance of the European Union, should not be fainthearted. It should stand up for democratic principles and not buckle under because of a fear of adverse repercussions in Hungary. Fidesz supporters are often loud. But decibels don’t always correlate with actual strength. Over a wide range of issues there are anti-government rumblings among the large bloc of unaffiliated voters, even some among Fidesz voters. And as far as Orbán’s fight with the outside world is concerned, it has only slim support at home. In his attempt to isolate Hungary he may be isolating himself.

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Wondercat
Guest

We all owe you more than I can say for sieving news from Hungary so interestingly and so trenchantly. Thank you, Prof Balogh.

spectator
Guest

Of course, I agree with the feline comment above, fully, no reservations whatsoever!

Regarding the subject, I think, while the overall population find the Orbanist BS “war of independence” unnecessary and counterproductive at best, there’s still enough gleamy eyed fidesnik to support this utter idiocy, whatever it cost, to the inevitable end, or to win the next election – if the opposition keep on going like they just do…

Guest

These figures make me hope that Hungary is not lost!

On the other hand my wife just today had a discussion with a neighbour who clearly sees that all is not well in Hungary under Orbán – but at the same time he believes that Gyurcsany and Bajnaj were also very bad for the country – he would never vote for them.

I didn’t get evrything, but it seems he was very angry at the latest propsal to raise the teachers’ wages – his wife works a a cook for a school and kindergarden and hasn’t seen a raise in for years! Actually she has less money in her pocket now – but somehow he doesn’t connect that with Orbán’s policies of “stealing from the poor to give to the rich”.

Sometimes I wish my knowledge of Hungarian was good enough to be part of a discussion like this – but on the other hand my wife says discussions are useless, people don’t like O, but they see no alternative …

PS:

From me also many thanks to Eva and all the contributors here (well, most of them …) to help me understan what’s going on in my “second home country”!

Pendemonda
Guest

It is also very interesting, that the majority of the most euroskeptical right radical party (JOBBIK) voters are also against the “war of indendence” (64%) -similar to the socialist and Dk-voters.
I think it will take some explaining….

J Grant
Guest
I have always said that the propensity of Hungarians to favour the negative side of any argument/perspective/reasoning has always created an air of despondency which tends to hide the real possibilities in any situation. Add to this that nowadays politics the world over can produce sharp, sudden and unexpected changes of direction – and I have never been down in the mouth about the future. If everybody seems to think that there is no alternative, how about Mesterhazy? His dressing down of Orban recently showed incredible promise. Yes, he is not an ‘in your face’ charismatic leader, but he is not the total loss everybody makes him out either. And he has no past in the sense that many might not vote for Gyurcsany or Bajnai. History teaches us that no people will ever stay on their knees forever. The glass will get full sooner or later. And while I do not put nearly as much faith in public opinion polls as some do, the Median poll is pretty revealing and should be used in arguments whenever and wherever we get involved in those. I also would like to add my thanks to Prof. Balogh for the data, very useful!
spectator
Guest
J Grant : If everybody seems to think that there is no alternative, how about Mesterhazy? His dressing down of Orban recently showed incredible promise. Yes, he is not an ‘in your face’ charismatic leader, but he is not the total loss everybody makes him out either. And he has no past in the sense that many might not vote for Gyurcsany or Bajnai. History teaches us that no people will ever stay on their knees forever. The glass will get full sooner or later. And while I do not put nearly as much faith in public opinion polls as some do, the Median poll is pretty revealing and should be used in arguments whenever and wherever we get involved in those. I also would like to add my thanks to Prof. Balogh for the data, very useful! In my experience, if one gives an assignment to someone and gives trust as well, they usually will grow to meet with the task in question – even if nobody thought they will. Of course, this is a work related experience, (a creative at that, we’re talking about design) but I don’t think, that there is that much differences in principle. As… Read more »
Pendemonda
Guest

You are right that “this kind of solution simply unimaginable” – but the argumentation is false. It Isnt unimaginable because it’s about Hungary! There are the case in the past as Mr Sólyöm was chosen for president -supported by all of the right parties.
This gays – Bajnai and Mesterházy – are booth simply too proud and too impatient.
I’m sorry to reduce your hope…

petofi
Guest

Trust in Mesterhazy is misplaced. His backroom handlers are presently giving him room ‘to dance’ because they see that he’ll come out ahead of Bajnai (who is politically challenged). Thus a victory for a Mesterhazy/Bajnai ticket is a real possibility.
Once they win, the reins will be pulled in and Mesterhazy will have to follow orders from within.

MSZP was the wrong alliance for Bajnai. He would’ve been far better off to rally a team around him that would’ve included Bokros and Bekesi and gone ahead to buck both MSZP and Fidesz.

Member
Bravo to the EU and EC for adopting a very wise strategy for implementing the monitoring procedures — recommended by the Tavares report and adopted by the EU: applying them to all EU member states. Financial Times: EU weighs fines for democratic breaches after Hungary tensions That way the Fidesz government’s shrill cries of exceptionalism, double-standards and anti-Hungarianism are mooted; and then if the Fidesz government refuses to cooperate with the monitoring (or just keeps playing the one-step-forward/two-steps-back game of pretending to comply that it has been playing for the past two years) then Fidesz itself will display to the world the exceptionalism of which it claims to be the victim. And to @Newsreader, who has been tenaciously trolling the discussion of the other FT article on Hungary’s monitoring http://t.co/tEASj52Lvl : The 53% EU vote is based on the exact same-sized majority (53%) as the Fidesz super-majority government in Hungary. That was the margin that allowed Fidesz to draft a new constitution, pass a new amendment or law every other week, undo press freedoms, undo checks and balances, control the courts, steal people’s pensions, real estate and livelihoods, control the press, gerrymander electoral boundaries, restrict opposition campaigning, promote patriotic hate… Read more »
Member

This is still not enough to vote the little viktor out. As László Bartus also stated, dictators are never voted out of office, they are removed only by force. That is most likely how the viktor will be dragged out from his office, with a rope on his neck. I hope the Médian will let us know what percentage of the adult voters found the procedure an absolute necessity.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

The first problem with such a study is that there is no history. What were people saying about it last year? And the year before? We can’t tell what the trend is.

The second problem is that the issue is not ranked, and that it doesn’t measure the approval/disapproval of the Government’s discourse.

For all we know, a very high portion of those who think the country should be defended against the designated “enemies” might be very adamant about it. And a significant portion of those who say these aren’t enemies might still like OV’s posture, even if they do not agree with the ideas on an abstract level.

To disagree with and to disapprove of are different matters, especially when it comes to voting. Hence, this could be a second-rate issue, but one that actually drives more votes in favor of Fidesz than it drives votes against it.

Peter
Guest

OT: I wonder whether the Fidesz-style “integration” of cooperative savings banks (takarékszövetkezetek) might deserve a post on HS. While I am no expert on these type of institutions, from what I read it seems that this story is another blatant violation of private property rights, on par with last year’s confiscation of private pension plans. It may be worth the attention of non-Hungarian readers.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest
Here is an example how Fidesz propaganda is based on deceit Deputy State Secretary for International Communication Ferenc Kumin states in a recent post: “While the Gárda, which was founded by the extreme-right political party, enjoyed unfettered freedom under the previous government, it was the Fidesz-led center-right government elected in 2010 that outlawed the organization, passing a law that made it a crime to “march in uniform with the intent of causing fear” and promoting hate.” http://ferenckumin.tumblr.com/post/55101491271/the-magyar-garda-remains-illegal?utm_source=International+Media+%2B+Contacts&utm_campaign=7537c3f378-2013_July_12_MEPs_Speaking_&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0361a1696c-7537c3f378-38065401 Parakovács writes: Kumin is lying so-and-so: Kumin megint hazudott: 1) The Hungarian Guard was not outlawed in 2010. In December 2007 the public prosecutor of Budapest took the iniative. Justice minister Draskovics iniated the dealing out of turn. Judgment-at-law was decided in July 2009. 2) The government cannot outlaw any organization 3) The government cannot enact laws 4) Neither did the parliament enact such a law, which would make the marching in uniform with the aim to create fear a crime. 5) The Hungarian guard assembled last Sunday at Erzsébet place in Budapest 1. A Gárdát nem 2010-ben oszlatták fel. 2007 decemberében kezdeményezte az a Fővárosi Ügyészség. 2008-ban Draskovics miniszter kezdeményezte az ügy soron kívüli tárgyalását. A jogerős feloszlatásról a döntés 2009 júliusában… Read more »
NWO
Guest

Pendemonda :It is also very interesting, that the majority of the most euroskeptical right radical party (JOBBIK) voters are also against the “war of indendence” (64%) -similar to the socialist and Dk-voters.I think it will take some explaining….

I also find this the most compelling aspect of the survey results. My guess (hope) is that it suggests that a part of Jobbik’s support may be due not to its far right, anti Jew/Roma policies as much as a total rejection of the existing politcal order AND a feeling that at least Jobbik is not mired in the corruption of the political system that so defines the other parties.

Guest

NWO might be right here regarding Jobbik’s support – we had a similar phenomenon in Germany (and Austria …) when disillusioned people voted vor the Neonazis (NPD, Republikaner, Haider) and got them into parliament.

At the next election four years later that support often had vanished …

Guest

Peter :
OT: I wonder whether the Fidesz-style “integration” of cooperative savings banks (takarékszövetkezetek) might deserve a post on HS. While I am no expert on these type of institutions, from what I read it seems that this story is another blatant violation of private property rights, on par with last year’s confiscation of private pension plans. It may be worth the attention of non-Hungarian readers.

When the Orban governmet collapses the savings banks will collapse with it and their vaults will be found empty.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

Eva S. Balogh :

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10) :
The first problem with such a study is that there is no history. What were people saying about it last year? And the year before? We can’t tell what the trend is.

I just received word that a second poll is coming out next week which will reflect the situation after the passing of the Tavares report. We will see then what the effect if any of the event had on public opinion.

This will be interesting indeed. By the way, regular ‘Eurobarometers’ show an increasing trend of negative opinions about the EU, and not only in Hungary of course. This 50% may not last long, especially as ‘speech has been liberated’.

The main issue of this kind of ‘liberation’ is that at first, it only pleases the far-right but soon it becomes pervasive throughout the whole political spectrum. It happened in other countries on matters like immigration or crime.

Member
http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2013/07/08/guest-post-why-the-tavares-report-is-dangerous-for-both-hungary-and-europe (Financial Times) @Newsreader wrote: “Recently, Florian Farkas, MP, and head of the Council of Roma minority in Hungary, paid a visit to Rui Tovares [sic], during which Mr. Tovares [sic] acknowledged that his assessment of the Hungarian Government’s policy on minorities, especially on the Roma was wrong and that the Government’s policy is in fact exemplary; and that he should have contacted the Hungarian Roma leadership before writing his report.” Rui Tavares (Nepszava, 11 July 2013) wrote: “Nothing of the sort happened.” http://www.nepszav…icle.php?id=661295 (In this Nepszava interview, Tavares expressed regret that considerable erroneous information is appearing in the Hungarian press in connection with the Tavares report — and surprise at how the Hungarian press had entered his office uninvited.) FT readers should bear in mind that almost all of the Hungarian press is controlled by the Fidesz government. Much of what appears there on matters concerning Fidesz interests is Fidesz propaganda, and there is never any answerability or correction for systematic misinformation. Along with ATV and Klubradio, the newspaper Nepszava is among the rare independent ones, struggling to survive despite government intimidation of advertisers and constant public vilification by the ubiquitous party-controlled media that everyone sees and reads. This… Read more »
Guest

London Calling!

O/T

Interesting interview on the BBC with Hungarian-Roma police officer Captain Gyorgy Makula on fighting prejudice. Roma policeman? They do exist it seems!

Pity the interviewer, Matthew Bannister, cuts across him at times but Gyorgy illuminates what life must be like as a Roma policeman.

Gyorgy Makula starts at 17mins 16secs into the program – if you think Natalie Cole is an air-head!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01bn6mn

Regards

Charlie

spectator
Guest

petofi :
MSZP was the wrong alliance for Bajnai. He would’ve been far better off to rally a team around him that would’ve included Bokros and Bekesi and gone ahead to buck both MSZP and Fidesz.

– Just as the Milla, as I see it.
By the other hand, I agree that a kind of professional alliance would have been most desirable, instead of those half-baked wannabes who gathers around him – with a few exceptions.

Otherwise I have no such insider knowledge how the MSZP – or any other party, as is – working, or what strategy they likely to apply, I just listened the guy a few times, and I’ve found him improving, growing up to the task, I would say.

Member

Fresh from the Financial Times blog discussion:

@Newsreader: “Professor Harnad, you are calling me a “tenacious troll”, for daring to express my views in a public forum provided by the FT.”

No, troll status is definitely not earned for “daring” to express one’s views in a public forum.

But, first, there’s no “daring” involved in expressing one’s views anonymously.

And, second, troll status is earned by being abusive and ad-hominem instead of discussing objective points, impersonally and civilly.

Readers can confirm the tenor of the postings of “Newsreader” by looking at his (or her or their) comments in chronological order, beginning with the “Newsreader” postings on the prior FT discussion of the posting by Fidesz Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Enikő Győri http://t.co/tEASj52Lvl

I note that “Newsreader” has lately begun cleaning up his/her/their act (perhaps with some advice from his/her/their minders, perhaps alerted to the fact that international FT readers are witnessing all this public acting-out).

Once it reaches a threshold for civility, drops the personal innuendos (a signature Fidesz strategy, by the way) and instead addresses the objective points in the Tavares Report (or the tobacco scandal in particular) impersonally, I and plenty of others will be happy to reply to “Newsreader”.

Member

Let me encourage Hungarian Spectrum readers to join the Financial Times Discussion. It is a good way to raise the public profile of the case against Fidesz in the face of the Fidesz monopoly on the Hungarian media. (Where possible, I also encourage doing it NON-anonymously.)

Member

Of course, if you do it non-anonynmously, you have to be prepared for the characteristic Fidesz public mud-slinging, anonymous and non-anonymous. But that, too, will be played out in an international arena where the mud-slinging cannot count on being applauded by an enthralled cult public.

Guest
London Calling! Stevan – I did consider it and was sorely tempted – I have followed it, yours, and the dreadful Eniko Gyori’s contribution – and many others. Yours are very good btw. But the FT has become, I believe, an unwitting mouthpiece for Orbanistan Propagandaville. Their journalists are not fully au fait with the way the media is controlled in Hungary – and how they are a magnet for the Fideszniks rhetoric. And they can’t be bothered to find out. A recent video ‘effort’ was laughable – second-rate journalists trying to make political judgements – with equally laughable mispronunciations. Yes – the FT! I am sure every time a Fidesznik succeeds like Gyori they put it in a gold frame in Fidesz headquarters – and up the ante for the next effort. The FT doesn’t understand how they are assisting the propaganda stream – why would they? They occupy a full democratic society. I have however considered sending them an email to advise them how triumphant the Government must be – and how this is an integral part of the propaganda efforts of the Orban administration. And how it is so unbalanced and misleading for the Hungarian population. Regards… Read more »
Guest

and btw (2)I think the FT are even flattered by the attention they get from an ‘International’ country – from such ‘senior’ politicians.

Engaging in World Politics – instead of a tinpot banana republic…..

Guest

Commocracy!

Member

Here is another lovely example of the Fidesz propaganda.

I subtitled part of the today’s press conference by Dr. Peter Hoppal, Fidesz spokesman. Not sure where the Dr comes from, because his original profession is music teacher.

This is the same disgusting maggot who said a few days ago that the left wants to take away the livelihood of 5000 small business owners by attacking the 100% lawful tobacco shop tender.

The primitivity of the text is assaulting. He said twice that Bajnai “lebukott” (got busted) like a common criminal. The gingerbread on the cake is the “unlawful and violent (!) attack” against the Fidesz headquarters. Remember the old fellow with acid threat and the blond murderer guy?

The whole speech is like an idiotic cheese sermon. Yuck! Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTGHZDZMXTM

Don’t forget to turn the English CC on.

Guest

London Calling!

What an orator!! Hardly Hitler is it? !!!

Member

Not only does Hoppal tell shameless lies here, but another thing is transparent in the subtext: He is implicitly inciting violence against the celebration of the Tavares Report. I hope it will have strong police protection.

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