Hungarians’ fear of migrants and terrorism

A new Medián-HVG poll came out yesterday on the Hungarian people’s attitude toward migrants and immigration. The results were published in HVG‘s print edition yesterday and are not yet available online.

Given the Orbán government’s anti-refugee propaganda, I’m sure nobody will be surprised to learn that since September, when Medián conducted a similar poll, Hungarian xenophobia and aversion toward the migrants from the Middle East and Africa has grown substantially. In November 2014 only 66% of the population thought that acceptance of the refugees should be further restricted. By now 80% of the adult population demand such limits. The same is true when the question was about a restriction on the number of “colored people.” The proportion of Hungarians surveyed who would limit their numbers jumped from 47% to 60%. These negative feelings also spilled over to long-time Arab and black residents/citizens. Their acceptance rate dropped fairly significantly as a result of the migrant crisis and terrorist attacks. In the case of Arab residents from 38% to 30% and in the case of blacks from 42% to 37%. The figures on attitudes toward gays and Jews remained fairly stable.

During the same period people’s feeling of security decreased substantially. When respondents were asked what comes into their minds when they hear the word “fear,” more people (23%) named terrorism than illness, crime, or poverty. This fear is widespread and across party lines. Even DK sympathizers, who come from the least prejudiced segment of Hungarian society, shared this feeling of insecurity given the present situation in Europe.

More Hungarians now think that the migrants are more aggressive and demanding than in September. Today 83% of Jobbik, 68% of Fidesz, 65% of undecided voters, 40% of MSZP, and 31% of sympathizers of the smaller democratic parties are convinced that the migrants are belligerent and demanding.

One of the key elements of the government propaganda is the close relationship between terrorism and the migrants. The message has reached the population. The researchers confronted the respondents with two statements: (1) It is most likely the case that the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks came from the refugees arriving in Europe and (2) One cannot claim this; there is no proof. Fifty-six percent of the respondents agreed with the first statement and only 40% with the second. Even worse, 46% agreed with a very controversial claim of Viktor Orbán that “regardless of what anyone says, all terrorists are migrants.”

Government and opposition billboards on the migrants

Government and opposition billboards on the migrant issue

The respondents also had to indicate their feelings on a number of statements and mark the intensity of these feelings on a scale of 0-100. For example, “immigrants pose health risks for the native population” (77), “immigrants substantially increase the danger of terrorist attacks” (77), “those who illegally cross the borders will have to serve a jail sentence” (69). The statement that “immigration might have a beneficial effect on Hungary because it would remedy the demographic problems and would add to the labor force” elicited little enthusiasm (24). The government’s propaganda against quotas, on the other hand, has been successful. While in September the EU proposal regarding quotas received a score of 50, by November that number had dropped to 29. Even the topic “humane treatment of the refugees” suffered a setback (from 72 to 62 points). Moreover, the majority of Hungarians (56%) are convinced that “sooner or later Muslims will be in the majority in Europe and they will force their religion and culture on us.” Here is the breakdown according to party affiliation: Jobbik (71%), Fidesz (64%), MSZP 40%, other opposition parties (28%), and those without party preference (51%).

The fence is extremely popular. In September 68% of the population approved it, but by now 87% of the population stand behind Viktor Orbán’s solution to the migrant problem. The new supporters of the fence come from the left. In September Jobbik and Fidesz almost to the man stood behind the idea of building a fence and keeping out the migrants. The real change has taken place on the left where the number of supporters has grown by 30 percentage points.

Finally, what is the Hungarian public’s attitude toward the cause of the exodus The poll takers offered three different theories: (1) “The terror of the Islamic State and the civil war,” (2) “Growing poverty and hunger,” and (3) “Certain unnamed outside moving forces are behind the mass migration.” The absolute majority (54%) of those surveyed opted for choices #1 (37%) and #3 (37%), and only 18% agreed with the proposition that it is poverty and hunger war that are the cause of the wave of migrants. Besides the 37% who opted for the 3rd choice, for a follow-up question another 26% (thus, overall 63%) suspected that certain interest groups are behind the migration crisis.

When it comes to which “hidden power” is behind this conspiracy, most people suspect the United States, although a fair number pointed the finger at Israel, the Jews, or George Soros. Some of the combinations are really bizarre. For example, some people coupled Israel with the Islamic State as being behind the flow of migrants. It is not surprising that Jobbik voters are the ones who most readily believe these theories, especially when it comes to a Jewish conspiracy. Medián’s summary of their research doesn’t specifically talk about the attitude of Fidesz voters toward conspiracy theories, but given Viktor Orbán’s frequent references to George Soros as a serious contender to be one of the hidden forces behind the flow of refugees I would suspect that Fidesz voters are just as ready to espouse Jewish conspiracy theories in connection with the migration crisis as are Jobbik voters. Anti-American feelings are also fueled by the new government mouthpiece, Magyar Idők, whose editorials are full of vicious anti-American rhetoric.

The Hungarian government is largely responsible for the growth of xenophobia, fear of the refugees, and the spread of conspiracy theories. The result is an immense growth in the Fidesz camp, but at what price?

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Istvan
Guest
Unfortunately some of the shift against immigration and Islam is part of a wider shift among white Christians, or would be Christians if they went to church, in a number of countries. The data that is most disturbing in relation to Hungary is the shift in perspectives of those more to the left as Eva’s essay discussed. I am deeply concerned that the more extreme someone like Trump acts the better his poll numbers get. If his numbers hold steady or improve after his laudatory comments about Putin today I will get really unnerved. PM Orban is experiencing the same thing in Hungary and unfortunately Orban’s projections of multiple millions of non-white immigrants on their way to Europe made months ago was supported today by the UNHCR. Antonio Guterres head of the UN refugee agency said this: “We are encouraged by the fact that a number of European countries have been saying, and I believe this is on the table to the European Council, that a massive resettlement program needs to be put in place for Syrians, but I would expect also for refugees in general. And when I mean massive, I mean hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people,… Read more »
Guest
István – re the Hungarian left – I think that the real issue is that today only a very tiny segment of the Hungarian left could be considered comparable to the social democrats and socialists thought to be integral constituents of the liberal democratic political framework in the West. In other words, “oils ain’t oils,” as a brilliant Caltex GTX ad used to proclaim, at least here in Australia, in the early eighties . . . . . This situation on the Hungarian left is of course fully mirrored on the Hungarian right, which consists entirely of “Christian” Nationalists and National Socialists, bearing no relation whatsoever to the Christian Democrats and other liberal democratic conservative formations considered integral constituents of the liberal democratic political framework in the West. Whatever genuine social democratic traditions might have existed on the Hungarian left were ruthlessly destroyed by the communist occupation in the late forties. And of course whatever embryonic forms of genuine liberal conservatism might have existed in the late period of the dual monarchy, they were terminally wrecked by Horthy and his buddies after WW1. In terms of its intellectual and political development, or lack of development, Hungary is very much on… Read more »
Guest

All of the above is also of course true of the Czechs, perhaps the most Western oriented of all East/East Central Europeans after the Estonians.

Although the Czech Social Democratic Party is now in power, with all the positives that this is supposed to imply in terms of liberal democratic values, their policies towards the flood of brown and black refugees and economic migrants are not that different from the policies of Hungary.

Of course, genuine liberal democracy was crushed in Czechoslovakia by the German and Hungarian invasions at the start of WW2, and the Czechs never actually quite recovered from that shock to this day, thus tolerance of the “other” tends to remain in short supply there too.

Member

I would be very careful to use the word “left” in a political sense, as the “left” and “right” in Hungary has a very different connotation as universal understating. In Orban’s Hungary semantics are very important.

Guest

@Some1

Yes, exactly.

This is precisely what I was on about in some detail in my post above (@ambalint/1.39am), where this is what I wrote to end off:

“It is therefore a fundamental error to regard the political left and right in Hungary as in any way similar to the political left and right in West and North European countries.”

Member

Yes. somehow I missed your post. Do not ask me how…

tappanch
Guest
Orban & his ignoble class continuously need cover stories to hide their scandals. Current scandals: 1. The giveaway of almost 10% of the agricultural land to friends and family in November and December of this year. 2. The corruption that the US government revealed, which reaches the inner circle of the regime. Cover stories: 1. Immigration is a danger to Hungary. 2. Multinational companies are a danger to Hungary 3. The newest one: The government will buy a new apartment* if a family already has 3 children, or promises to have a third child within 4 years, or promises to have a second and third one within 8 years. *The terms change every hour, but at least people will not pay attention to the huge scandals. The latest thing I heard was that a family with 3 children or with a promise to have 3 children will be given 20 milllion forints (half in grants, half in cheap loans) to buy a new apartment or house, provided the apartment is bigger than 60 m^2, or the house is bigger than 90 m^2. The government will also lower the VAT on new apartments or houses from 27% to 5%, which lowers… Read more »
Guest

Entirely unsurprising. Orbán is clearly a master of dogwhistle politics. Though this is of course particularly easy in an environment like Hungary where the utter ignorance of most people – combined with a ridiculous and entirely unwarranted superiority complex along with the conviction that they know it all – extremely well-condition them to respond to dogwhistle politics, like salivating Pavlov’s dogs.

As to the popularity of ridiculous Jewish conspiracy theories – the evergreen and ever evolving Hungarian versions of dolchstoss, the stab in the back – that is fueled not just by ignorance, but above all by the malevolent ill will forever wafting from the all-pervasive antisemitism on the Hungarian street, a species of mental sickness that most Hungarians seem to chronically suffer from.

The CEU in Budapest is funded and inspired by Soros. It is without doubt a hugely annoying thorn in the side of the illiberals who form the overwhelming majority of both the governing class and of the unwashed general public of Hungary. One may well ask, therefore, how long it is going to take before the CEU get actually kicked out of Hungary.

Guest
I think that what Samuel Huntington didn’t quite get right was that he wrote of a coming “clash of civilizations,” whereas what we are really and obviously in the midst of is a “clash of value systems” (which are of course driven by belief systems). Post-Christian, secular, liberal democratic Western Europe wracked by (an entirely pointless and unnecessary) post-colonial guilt, and many, if not most opinion leading and forming American humanities academics, journalists and public intellectuals have one kind of a value system. In the Mediterranean zone, Eastern Europe and across the Fertile Crescent, Arabia, Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Islamic State, the various other warring Muslim sects, Hungary and the rest of Eastern Europe including Russia, as well as Jewish nationalist Israel have all got value systems that are at very sharp variance with that of the West Europeans and of most American left wingers (“liberals”). Political correctness compels West Europeans and the East Coast American intellectual elite to consider all value systems – and the belief systems that underlie them – to be equally valid, acceptable and legitimate up to and even beyond the point where adherents of some given incompatible value system begin to do all… Read more »
Guest
Things changed and are changing aren’t they? East and and West Germany unite, the Wall comes down, the USSR disintegrates and Eastern Europe tried their hand at democracy. But years on we seem to be back to square one where ‘western’ values are now suspect and men like Orban want to trek onto a new and different path. A path allegedly never walked before as I believe he termed it. It’s almost as if he is playing out a Frostian duality of the ‘roads taken and not taken’. It remains to be seen where this perilous journey will take his country and people. The xenophobia we see is really the last thing the country needs in its apparent view that there’s a hierarchy now in the world and that they need to pay attention to it to survive. If ‘birth’ is the measure of ‘Hungarianess’ it severely limits their interactions with the ‘other’ and inhibits understanding and comprehension on both an international and interpersonal. As the globe gets smaller Hungary fights to exclude herself and keep the world and its problems away. With this indeed they will lose ‘human’ skill in global engagement. Being ‘out of practice’ will have consequences… Read more »
Istvan
Guest
Amblint your reference to Professor Samuel Huntington is reflective for myself and possibly for Eva also. He was all the rage when I was a young military sciences/ political science student due to his book The Solider and the State which was in so many respects brilliant. But he went let us say off the rails when he over theorized what was called the strategic hamlet idea during the Vietnam War. He believed the Viet-Cong could be defeated by a combination of strategy of carpet-bombing and defoliating the rural lands and jungles of Vietnam, that pushed the population into urban areas. By the time I got to Vietnam in the winter of 1971 into the spring of 1972 I could see first hand the folly of that theory. The Viet-Cong had numerous cells in the cities, one of which supported a North Vietnamese attack on a base I was stationed at in March 1972. The urban areas were nightmares with shanty towns everywhere. So Huntington’s problems did not start with his article the Clash of Civilizations, it should be added he supported and advised the apartheid government in South Africa in its failed attempt to defeat the ANC. He never… Read more »
Guest

Yes, Huntington was a flawed oracle, though in some respects he does appear to have had the right instincts in his “Clash of Civilizations” which first came out in 1993 as an article in Foreign Affairs, then expanded as a book, published in 1996. Unfortunately I am not familiar with any of his earlier work or his earlier predictive failures that you describe so well in your post above. Thank you for a most fascinating summary of your first hand, personal experiences of the impacts and effects of the earlier goofs and blunders of the old boy.

tappanch
Guest
Guest

By the way, I think that electing the Donald president of the U.S.A. would be like appointing an arsonist to be the Fire Chief.

Luckily, the checks and balances of the American political system would more than likely prevent the Donald to do too much damage before finally he got booted out.

Not like the Führer of Orbanistan who made sure to quickly smash up all checks and balances of the Third Republic (R.I.P.), and nowadays appears to be more than comfortably ensconced for a lifetime of “leadership” of his benighted country.

Guest

Mr. Trump sure looks sharp. It’s as if he’s sucking up the anger and xenophobic attitudes here as well and barking them back out to the electorate. For sure if he does get in as POTUS he too will be like Orban and that is also setting a new course and path for the United States of Ameruca. Must be something wafting in the global air.

And even Putin gives him a ‘like’ and Trump seemed to bask in it. Seeming approval from one ‘politician’ to another. But Vlad sure knows xenophobia isn’t such a good thing to have when you’re dealing with certain things. He has political manners.

petofi
Guest

I think that Orban may well become the poster boy for the NRA. If there was ever a reason for the citizenry to be armed, Orban’s deconstruction of the democratic system in Hungary is it.

Guest

Well in my opinion now Viktor , Vlad and the NRA are of the type that ‘shoot’ first and then ask questions later as they play out their very important agendas. Good to know I’d say if one is contemplating ‘duels’…. in whatever fashion.

And as for Prof Balogh’s reference to ‘half-educated oracles’ , I’d suggest the more things change the more things remain the same. In ancient Greece since politics and religion were combined in the country’s fabric politicians found that the oracles were the most effective , helpful and most simple means of getting out propaganda and helping to control the future. No different today it seems. Budapest that ‘New Delphi’ where those who wish to divine the future must ‘take the auspices’. Thing is no goats with their bloody entrails litter the chasms of divination but something else more profound and consequential. And that is the apparent surrender of incisive thinking and intelligence to seers who believe they have all answers.

Istvan
Guest

I will to look around if I can find an article in one of the NRA journals denouncing the private ownership of weapons laws in all of Central Europe and Russia post communism, I recall one was written Petofi. Here is one that touches on the subject https://www.nraila.org/articles/20010611/gun-laws-around-the-world-do-they-work In general Orban and Fidesz oppose broad public ownership of weapons and have supported the EU proposals for tighter gun laws throughout Europe.

In general the NRA thinks that all of Europe is full of shit, with the possible exceptions of Switzerland, Slovakia and Czech republic. They give a pass to these nations only because of their data on private gun ownership and laws. Here is a link to a typical NRA article on European gun laws https://www.nraila.org/articles/20150902/europes-restrictive-gun-laws-disarm-victims-not-terrorists

Just for the record I am a lifetime member of the NRA and our state affiliate. I don’t agree with everything the NRA states but they are an effective lobby for those of us who own guns in the USA. I would say a significant number of retired military in the USA are NRA members as are current and retired police officers.

Observer
Guest

@ “only 18% agreed with the proposition that it is terrorism and civil war that are the cause of the wave of migrants.”

This is really shocking! Even as
– I reside in Hungary and know the environment
– I know that a recent study showed that the Hungarians are the most susceptible to conspiracy theories among the Central and East Europeans
– I know of another study showing that Fidesz has the highest close to 90% (?) rate of religious people among their voters .

The fact that so many people believe such gross nonsense doesn’t bode well for this country. Clearly it is not God that strikes the Magyar.

Member

OT: I sent a support inquiry yesterday to figure out why the comment option keeps logging out people and sends us in a wishes circle. You can still comment as Guest, but you will not able to edit, until this is resolved. I hope I will hear back on Monday….

tappanch
Guest

It was the Hungarian National Bank (chairman: Matolcsy) that loaned 0.5 billion forints to a company owned by Matolcsy’s cousin to buy origo.hu from Deutsche Telekom.

http://mno.hu/belfold/ki-vette-meg-valojaban-az-origot-1319887

Guest

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Guest

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Guest

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[…] Medián-HVG poll what comes into their minds when they hear the word “fear,” more people (23%) named terrorism than illness, crime, or poverty. Their overall sense of security has fallen considerably. “The […]

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