New polls challenge Fidesz’s political and ideological hegemony

Today I would like to cover three opinion polls which, when combined, may give us a better picture of the political situation and the Hungarian population’s frame of mind at the moment. The first one, by Medián, I already touched on. Here I mention it simply by way of a reminder that, according to the company’s February poll on party preferences, for the first time since August-September 2015 Fidesz lost a considerable amount of support. Between January and February 2016 the party’s support dropped from 53% to 46%.

The second poll, by the Republikon Intézet, took a different approach. In addition to the normal questions on party preferences, Republikon asked participants in the survey “what kind of government they would like to see after the next election.” And here comes the surprise. While Republikon found that support for Fidesz was still strong (49%) when people were asked to indicate their party preference if an election were held right now, the result of the question about the political coloring of the next government was radically different. Only 25% of those who had an opinion on the matter indicated that they would like to have a Fidesz government. Mind you, 19% of those who took part in the survey refused to answer the question and 22% had no opinion. Of the remainder, 18% opted for left-liberal governance and 16% wouldn’t mind having Jobbik at the helm.

There were no surprises in the geographic distribution of the responses. In Budapest support for Fidesz was only 18%, while 25% wanted to see a socialist-liberal government. In county seats, the difference between Fidesz and a socialist-liberal party was smaller (19% to 21%), but Fidesz was still in the minority. When it came to less significant towns, Fidesz took the lead (22% versus 17%). Its support was staggering in villages: 37% to 15%. The number of those who haven’t made up their minds is high (41-45%) in cities and towns and lower (33%) in the villages.

Republikon also parsed the respondents’ preferences for a new government based on their level of educational attainment. Among those who finished only eight grades Fidesz support was the highest (31%). This support tapered off the more years people were in school and dropped to 14% among university and college graduates. Interestingly enough, it was in this last group that the number of those who still haven’t made up their minds was the highest (60%).

Finally, Republikon asked people about the refugee question. Its findings were somewhat different from other pollsters who asked a single question: “do you or don’t you agree” with the government’s migration policies. In Republikon’s survey people could respond to the statement “Altogether, the government handled the refugee situation well” in three ways: “No, I don’t agree,” “Partly yes, partly no,” and “I agree.” It turned out that only 57% of the population, as opposed to 84% in some other surveys, were totally satisfied with the government’s handling of the situation while 19% were critical and 21% partially so.

The findings of the third poll, the Standard Eurobarometer 84, reflect Hungarians’ view of the EU. The Standard Eurobarometer was established in 1973 and has since appeared twice a year. The latest edition is based on information gathered between November 7 and 17. The Standard Eurobarometer measures responses in six different areas: (1) the role of the European Union; (2) European identity; (3) migration; (4) common energy policy; (5) media, and (6) expectations. Unfortunately, the section on Hungary is available only in Hungarian, but those who can handle the language should take a look at it. Here I will focus on questions about the EU’s presence in people’s lives.

Although we often hear the complaint that the European Union is too far removed from the ordinary citizens of the member states, that they know little about it and have no informed opinion on it, the findings of this survey suggest otherwise. It doesn’t seem to matter how much Viktor Orbán tries to incite Hungarians against the bureaucrats of Brussels and their evil plans for closer integration, a substantial majority of Hungarians (65%) would like to see a common security and defense policy introduced. In fact, the number of those who would like to see a common EU army is much higher in Hungary than the EU average (61% vs. 53%). Orbán’s talk about sovereignty is meaningless when 62% of Hungarians support a common foreign policy for the Union. Having common defense and foreign policies for all member states would take away a great deal of the country’s sovereignty, which Viktor Orbán finds so important. In fact, in his last speech he divided the people of Europe into two groups: “unionists and sovereigntists.” The unionists want a European United States while the sovereigntists want “a Europe of free nations.” Naturally, Viktor Orbán and his followers are the flagbearers of the latter group. Yet it seems that a large majority of Hungarians would be quite willing to give up a large part of that sovereignty. Hungarians’ opinion negatively differs from the EU average on only a couple of issues: the introduction of the euro as a common currency (49% vs. 56%) and common migration policy (55% vs. 68%). But note that even on the contentious issue of migration more than half of the population would be willing to accept a common EU policy.

european union flags2

Moving on to the question of European identity, I think readers of Hungarian Spectrum will be surprised to hear that while in the European Union as a whole 41% of the people consider themselves to be members only of their own nation, that number is considerably lower in Hungary: 33%. And that’s not all. While in the EU 51% consider themselves to have dual identity (for example, German and European), in Hungary that number is higher: 56%. Even the percentage of those who consider themselves to be exclusively European without national identification is much higher in Hungary than in the EU as a whole (5% versus 1%).

What do these new surveys tell us? First, that in February Fidesz’s support dropped considerably, and since then it has most likely weakened even further due to the teachers’ demonstrations, the MSZP-DK win in Salgótarján, the revelations about Viktor Orbán’s estate, the government’s use of skinheads to prevent a referendum, and the central bank’s attempt to “privatize” about 300 billion forints of public money. We have also learned about long-term support for Fidesz, which is not as rosy as one would think by looking only at the monthly party preferences. A larger segment of society would like a change of government than one would suspect on the basis of other surveys. And finally, that despite all the propaganda, Hungarians are great supporters of the European Union and less keen on sovereignty than Viktor Orbán and his followers. László Kövér may remove the flag of the European Union from Parliament and Viktor Orbán may banish it at his public appearances, but it seems that Hungarians are proud citizens of the European Union. All in all, the Hungarian situation is not as dark as some people paint it.

March 12, 2016
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Guest

At last, a glimmer of good news!
Many thanks Éva.

But could you please delete Dombos comments, as they have nothing to do with the article, and is most likely a Fidesz goon, or Jobbik chappy, with evil intentions only, parading as a “commentator”

We should not give him/her a platform for what are clearly intended as antisemitic views, camouflaged as a concern for Palestinians. I expect he is the chap who was at a demo in district XIV, at the unveling by Jobbik of a nasty new Turul statue. There, our Dombo was violent with an elderly woman demonstrator and shouted at her about Palestinian children.

Jobbik, as usual, zooms in on anything, such as this great article, as a vehicle for their antisemitism, while exposing nothing much more than their ignorance of the difficult situation in Israel.

Member

Troll-Control and Self-Control

Poor Éva had to spend an hour of precious time cleaning out the troll trash. We are all already enormously in Éva’s debt for the preternatural amount of daily work she does to keep us all informed about dasy-to-day developments in Hungary. Trolls are obviously there to make it harder for her. But it is really regrettable that some of our regulars seem to be unwilling to restrain themselves from interacting with the trolls instead of just waiting for Éva to delete their droppings. Please stop doing it. You are devaluing both your own credibility and that of Hungarian Spectrum. That is precisely the objective of the trolls, and you are their accomplices if you cannot exercise some judgment and self-control.

(Please! No self-justification. Just let it drop. And next time, abstain.)

comment image

Member

Or, if you see a troll posting, just reply: “Trollery. Ignored.” and wait patiently for Éva to delete both the troll posting and your comment. Your duty’s done, and you will not have done what the troll hoped for, and what keeps it coming back for more.

Guest

Stevan, you’re right!
Since there is no button here to mark/flag a comment as troll/inappropriate like on many forums (or is there?) a message like you propose would/should do to make everybody else ignore that comment and all others following from the same source.
That would be easier for all of us – and of course for our gracious host!
Thanks again, Eva!

Guest

@Stevan Harnad
Today 10:28 am

Excellent suggestion.

Guest

Re: the ‘Dumbos’

Have to say it’s interesting to see how the trolls operate. Kind of makes me think of one of my favorite films ‘Casablanca’ where everybody wants to get passage to leave Marseilles. A shot pans the cafe where they are all deep in talk trying to find a way out and then the voiceover… ‘And they wait and they wait’. That’s what these guys do. And like kangaroos they love to ‘pounce’. And we don’t really need to get into the ‘thought’ behind it all.

Guest

Totally OT re that wonderful film:
Did you know that many of those extras in the film were refugees from Europe who got their first chance to make some money in Hollywood? An interesting read:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casablanca_%28film%29

Guest

Great information there and one of the greatest films ever made. I remember my initial reaction to the performance of Conrad Veidt as a very strict and tightly wound Nazi commandant. He played the part to the hilt.

Exit stage right and I learned he was a fervent anti-Nazi with a Jewish wife. Mr. Veidt of course knew intimately what they of that ilk were like.

In ‘Casablanca’ his fine portrayal came from a deep understanding of the movement’s psychology and despicable culture. The scenes he had with Bogart are fabulous in symbolically showing the face off between individuals and groups inhabiting two diametrically opposed systems of political and philosophical thought. Maybe time to watch it next up! Everybody should go to Rick’s….;-)…

Guest

Having wasted fifteen minutes on the OT posts by Dumbo, the Jobbik troll, may I now turn to the matter at hand.

My take home from Éva’s piece is three-fold.

One is that I might well have been quite wrong with my unrelenting pessimism about the prospects in Hungary for political change for the better.

The second is that it is way too early to tell whether these survey results are indications of a sustainable sea-change in Hungarian political attitudes or just a statistical blip that Orbán might cunningly neutralize by more xenophobic incitement and especially by throwing some well-timed scraps to the electorate.

And the third is that obviously the best hope for positive political change in Hungary is for Orbán to keep piling up blunders, bungles, and lies and thievery that get exposed, until a critical mass is reached, and even his own support base gets a gutful of him and his cronies.

Provided that this support base does not, at that time, switch across en masse to Jobbik, the prevention of which should be one of the principal strategic objectives of the democratic opposition.

webber
Guest

Some poll data suggests that the majority of people, regardless of political leanings, will vote en bloc for ANY candidate they think can beat Fidesz. So, in Salgótarján, Jobbik supporters voted for the MSZP candidate because they thought he would beat Fidesz.
It’s just further proof the opposition will have to unite behind individual candidates in individual districts in upcoming elections to win – but the good news is that the opposition certainly can win.
As to Fidesz making “mistakes.” Embezzling is not a mistake. They will keep doing it, and will keep being caught doing it.
Trying to intimidate people who oppose Fidesz – even including physical intimidation and attacks – is also not a mistake. It’s part of Fidesz’s psyche. And this is what has fouled up poll data.
Things are actually much more severe than is shown in polls. Many people actively hate Fidesz now. It’s not simple dislike – it’s deep hatred. You know the sort – the hatred seething under the surface when Hungarians get strangely quiet.

Guest

@webber
Today 4:33 am

Well, if you are right – and I sincerely hope that you are – then there is indeed hope and perhaps some light at the end of the tunnel.

Istvan
Guest

Webber you point to an important development. The left right block in Salgótarján apparently from the press reports I read was a topic of discussion inside Fidesz, or at least as much of a discussion that Orban wants to allow. As Eva has pointed out Jobbik has attempted to make a turn towards legitimacy and part of that has been a focus on Fidesz corruption.

Eva has also argued that Jobbik and Fidesz are in many ways twins, so if necessary a coalition government between Jobbik, Fidesz, and KDNP would continue to implement the Mafia state as it is called by Batint Magyar. The real question in that situation would be how much of a cut of the systematic corruption would be given to Jobbik and if Gabor Vona orders his troops to be more honest than Fidesz that they really take a lower cut of the corruption in order to try to ascend to power in order to fully implment Fascism in Hungary.

webber
Guest

Many supposed Jobbik supporters may just be protest voters with no ideological affiliation. For protest voters, whoever could beat Fidesz will be worth supporting.

Guest
@Dombo Today 3:54 am OT Dumbo, Dumbo. You don’t seem to get it that Israel is here to stay for good. The Arabs have lands stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf, Israel is a tiny sliver of land along the East Mediterranean littoral, a handful of kilometers across and half the size of Transdanubia in Hungary. Too bad that the Arabs living in the tiny territory controlled by Jews are unable to accept the existence of a Jewish State of Israel. Settlements and suburbs will continue to be built on public land in Arab areas as long as the Arabs are unwilling to accept the existence and legitimacy of a Jewish State of Israel. As to American military aid, all of it is required to be spent in the States on products by American companies. And tax free donations to Israel are no more exceptional than tax free donations for anything else by American citizens. I would also refer you again to a decent English-English dictionary to look up the meaning of genocide, because the way you use the term, you are obviously ignorant of its meaning. The real elephant in the room is Arab, and especially… Read more »
Guest

@Dombo
Today 4:17 am

Dumbo, if indeed you are an Arab, or even a local Arab from territories controlled by the State of Israel, you know full well that your people and my people are at war.

Taking a cue from the way Palestinians treat each other, like torturing, then throwing off dozens of Fattah activists from rooftops in Gaza, we Jews are provided by your side with very great incentives to win this war, even if it takes centuries.

So, I wouldn’t hold my breath for too long about prospects that in twenty years time Jews would be at the tender mercies of your kind hearted people.

webber
Guest

“disgusting liberal Jewish drooling”
And “You should know that you will never rule Hungary…”
WHOOPS!
Hello anti-Semite! What a lot of strange assumptions you make about people you cannot even see.

To borrow a phrase from a letter JRR Tolkein wrote to a German publisher in 1938:
“…if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people.”

Sadly, the same goes for me. My ancestry is very boring, Anglo-Irish.

You can see the letter here, if you are at all curious about what else JRR Tolkein wrote and why: http://www.openculture.com/2014/04/j-r-r-tolkien-snubs-a-german-publisher.html

The only disgusting thing on this blog is the hatred of a religious or racial group (any group – Jew, Arab, Muslim, Christian, Hungarian, or Romanian), and the assumption that they are “all alike,” and are in some sort of conspiracy (liberal or otherwise).

You apparently have such hatred backed by strange delusions you have about Jews. You can get over these delusions with work. Please visit a psychiatrist. You need help.

Guest

@webber
Today 5:27 am

Well said, Webber!

I would have been a lot harsher to this Fiddik provocateur, and perhaps unfair to boot, to Hungarians more generally too.

So it is much better that you have said it, and said it well.

Guest

@Dombo
Today 3:50 am

Why, Dumbo, you surprise me!

And here am I, I thought in my ignorance that Auschwitz was just a lie invented by the International Jewish Conspiracy with the precise and specific intention of justifying the torture and dispossession of innocent Arabs.

Just shows how wrong can one be.

webber
Guest

Please don’t feed the troll.

I hope Eva will cut all this irrelevant stuff after she wakes up and has had her coffee. It just has nothing whatsoever to do with Hungary.

Guest

OK. :-))

webber
Guest

Even if Fidesz cheats (if? When!) in 2018, by stuffing the ballot boxes, chain-voting, and moving Fidesz voters certain districts, it may not be enough to save them.
The opposition just has to unite behind individual candidates in each and every district. That is all.
I don’t think the opposition even needs to work on a unified programme (impossible with so many parties, anyway) – all they need to do is to say “Enough is enough” (elég volt), and Never again Fidesz (Soha többé Fidesz).
And a poster campaign with pictures of the state the country really is in with Fidesz’s slogan Hungary is doing better (Magyarország jobban teljesít) ought to be very effective.
Every single day everyone in the country sees with their own eyes that the government is lying.
Here’s a road in Somogy County – pic. taken on Mar. 1, 2016:
comment image?resize=666%2C360

Magyarország jobban teljesít.

Guest
@webber Today 6:02 am I agree that a poster campaign like this would be extremely effective in skillful political hands. But do such skillful political hands actually exist in the ranks of the democratic opposition, rather than just among the people of Jobbik? As to the tactic of uniting behind electoral district candidates regardless of any coherent and implementable political program, I think that would be strategically self-defeating. One always has to think about the morning after when proposing tactics and maneuvers, whether in politics, business or war. And how would such a motley rabble ever form a coherent and workable government coalition, and if they did, how many hours or weeks would they last? Because if it did not last, Orbán would be back in saddle quicker than you could say Jack Robinson. My take on all this is that Orbán has little to worry about in 2018 unless a strong, capable and credible leader emerges from the current rugby scrum among the democratic opposition, one who would be capable of forming a viable coalition of DK, MSZP, Együtt, PM and even LMP under a political umbrella organization. Then, and only then, in my view, would emerge some real… Read more »
Member

My opi remains unchanged: you need some kind of discontinuity otherwise you would be lost in legal loopholes left behind by the present majority. That would be one single reason why the opposition should unite.
Sure, something is brewing in Hungary.

Guest

And speaking of the opposition, I’d think it would be incumbent on them to study the poll results very carefully. The information there could prove a gold mine in understanding the psyche and ‘real’ positions of the population when it comes to the future of the country. They have 2 years to sift , ponder and execute. And if the results indeed continue in their favor they have to know Fidesz et al will raise the ante. And will they be prepared for the political onslaught?

Member

This picture must be from Romania or Bulgaria. Serbia? Just kiddin’

Guest
London Calling! I think Orban will cut his losses and call a snap election. Things are deteriorating – maybe fast. But if he can engineer one big refugee crisis – with the emergency AND the timing of having to take a ‘quota’ of refugees from ‘mendacious Merkal’ then I think he will do it. And with his rigged ‘referendum’. He will have an enormous tranche of €’s between 2017 and 2020 and won’t want any opposition getting their hands on the spondooliks. He will stall with the teachers and doctors for as long as possible just long enough to get the faithful outside Budapest to vote him in – even with a reduced majority – with more energy cuts. The demonstration in BP has to be contained as a damp squib. He’s a master of doing that with the instruments of his commocracy. He probably knows he won’t have the luxury of a so-called constitution-changing majority (I baulk at calling it ⅔’rds) – he became resigned to that at the last election. But he needs the power – the addiction – he hasn’t moved into his castle yet even though his plans get grander and grander for the Castle District… Read more »
Guest

If things become marginal – expect some unexpected dubious tactics – possibly even physically violent tactics to emerge. The Fradi-thugs at the referendum shenanigans will have been seen to be just a sideshow.

petofi
Guest

@ Cc

“…he needs the power – the addiction…”

Too true. And the ‘addiction’ is not just to Power, but the Struggle…the mein kampf…Viktor instigates and invites combat-

Member
Question: How credible these “EU” statistics are, in view of the fact that the EU Delegation in Budapest prepares them whose boss is a known fidi cadre? (Please read the very first page of the report). Anyone? I find two surprising figures in the “EU” stats Eva quoted, but in an opposite way. 1.) Monetary Union support of 49% (against the 56% EU-28 average). Disregard all the government propaganda, could that figure be so high? Amazing, if true. @Tappanch? 2.) Enlargement 50% support (against 38% within the EU). a. If people new, that EU experience with leaders like the great one, and the Polish, and the Slovak, the Croat, etc. is a major impediment for further enlargement I do not think that figure would be so high. b. Support is considerably lower in the West if you discard V4 and other countries I already mentioned. It should be below 30%, realistically. (PS: NL is just to hold a referendum on the association agreement with Ukraine. Here I am not surprised at all!) c. If Hungaricus understood a bit about the EU, they would oppose enlargement even more than “old” member states do now. Depends how you look at your interests.… Read more »
webber
Guest

These public opinion polls have another effect: The worse it looks for Fidesz, the faster the people Hungarians call “careerists” will abandon Fidesz. Some businessmen, too, invest in whomever they think has a chance of winning.
In part this may be why we get the “people love Orban,” and “Orban is a winner” nonsense here. It is vital for Fidesz to keep up this lie, and Fidesz people know it.

petofi
Guest

@webber

“…The worse it looks for Fidesz, the faster the people Hungarians call “careerists” will abandon Fidesz.”

I don’t think so. The insiders will know where the power resides. They’ll never leave Orban’s side while he’s in power. What’s more,
they know how tricky he is, and capable to turn opinion his way. The Orban setup–control of media, parliament, judicidary, bureaucracy, police–is so airtight presently, that it’s hard to see anyway he’ll lose power for a long time to come.

Member

Any thoughts on Tibor Szanyi’s bid to take over the leadership of MSzP?

http://index.hu/belfold/2016/03/13/szanyi_tibor_dontott_elindul_a_partelnoki_posztert/

webber
Guest

If I had my druthers, the one to lead MSZP would be the guy standing next to Szanyi in the picture in the article you posted- István Ujhelyi.

webber
Guest

That said, if Szanyi has Ujhelyi’s backing, that’s good enough for me.
Just a question – am I wrong, or (just judging from the names) are both of them of old Hungarian noble background?
Ujhelyi, with that spelling (u, not ú) almost certainly is. His mother’s name, Bánlaki, also appears to be an old family.
How about Szanyi?

Member

Szányi’s a loose cannon, not safe for leadership. His heart is in the right place, but he can’t keep his mouth shut; nor does he have proportionate and pragmatic judgment. (Though morally in no way comparable to that loathsome creature, he does have a slight touch of trumpery in his M.O..)

webber
Guest

details? Just curious – perhaps only in a self-satisfying way, because I have a different preference.

webber
Guest

P.S. It’s def. Szanyi, not “Szányi” – so I wonder if you have the right fellow, Stefan? If so, please let’s have the dirt, because my curiousity is growing by the minute. The last two times I saw Szanyi on t.v., I found him less strident than Tóbiás, and he seemed to have a nice turn of phrase (but give me Ujhelyi!)

Member

I agree with Stevan completely. Here’s one example – a very unfortunate picture he posted on Facebook:
http://www.blikk.hu/aktualis/politika/pucer-foto-miatt-torolhettek-szanyi-tibort-a-facebookrol/hcn47c1

FB actually suspended his account for a while because of this.

webber
Guest

Thanks. Have you looked at the picture? I found it strange, perhaps in questionable taste, but not offensive.

webber
Guest

but you are right – DEFINITELY not a sign of leadership ability (unless of a Berlusconi sort).

Member

Not offensive to me either, but you see what I mean.

One thing I agree with Szanyi about: the party won’t win the next election unless it embraces change (like, duh)

Kalcsi
Guest

Hahahaha. Seriously Szanyi as an agent of change? LOL.

It’s one thing he is an alcoholic, he is one of those people who had a nice career already during communism. One of the old guard.

Szanyi spent quite a long time abroad in Western Europe during those years when there was a nice saying in Budapest “nem minden belügyes külügyes, de minden külügyes belügyes”, if you get my drift. His file will be leaked to Heti Valasz the next day he is elected as MSZP chairman.

Forget Szanyi, with him Fidesz would win any day. I go further. MSZP is hopeless, with anybody. It’s a zombie party. MSZP is in serious part on Fidesz’ payroll.

In other words, MSZP is the prefect adversary for Fidesz with Szanyi or without.

webber
Guest

“nem minden belügyes külügyes, de minden külügyes belügyes”
That’s what I like to say whenever (former President) Pál Schmitt’s (Fidesz) wonderful career in the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne is mentioned.

Member

“nem minden belügyes külügyes, de minden külügyes belügyes” – Sorry, it sounds good, but I am sure you don’t know what you are talking about.

webber
Guest

What I mean is that Schmitt was certainly giving reports on friends, colleagues, and others and had been doing so for some time. There is no other way he would have been made deputy director of the Astoria Hotel (1976-1980) head secretary of Hungary’s Olympic Committee (1983-), and Hungary’s delegate to the IOC (1983-). They did not delegate people to such posts who did not report on others.

I’m curious, what are you talking about?

webber
Guest

Or: Mire gondol?

Guest

A bit OT:
In today’s local election in Baden-Württemberg (the Country of the Schwabs …) the Greens became the strongest party so our Green Prime Minister Mr. Kretschmann will continue his well done job.

And Orbán won’t visit Bosch, Mercedes or Porsche because he’d have some difficult questions to answer first on an official visit.
And now we’re off to our favourite bar for an after election party with a local rock group playing …

spectator
Guest

To me the poll clearly indicating that the majority keeping up with the Viktorian nonsense in stead of any plausible option.
Only if the — still — fee-minded people would be able to unite, even temporarily, it would be possible to clean away these filth for good!

But, of course it would need the self restrain from the political actors to suspend and put away their party politics for a “greater good” for awhile, do their best to keep together and then and only then it could work.

Think of an election alliance, without parties to restore law and democracy, agree on a clean new constitution, — and after a few years time be ready to have a “real” election. Then everyone could show their true colors and show up their merits to the people to decide, whom they will trust to continuo to lead the country.

OK, I’m daydreaming…
After all, this is Hungary…

Guest

Totally OT again:

back from the election party – my home town is the greenest, I’m so proud …
45% of the votes for the Green party!

wpDiscuz