A representative opinion poll focussing primarily on the assessment of Hungary’s foreign policy was commissioned by MEP István Ujhelyi and conducted before the armed Russian aggression started, but already in the context of the tense Russian-Ukrainian situation.
The results of the nationwide survey, conducted by Publicus Institute in the first weeks of February and involving around 2,000 people, showed that two-thirds (67%) of Hungarians tend to agree with the statement that Viktor Orbán and his government are damaging European unity by serving the interests of Russian President Putin, thus jeopardizing the security of Europe and Hungary. It has been confirmed that the pro-Russian propaganda deliberately built up by the government in recent years has had an impact primarily on Fidesz supporters: barely 11% of pro-government voters believe that Orbán’s policies serve Putin’s interests, against 88% on the opposition side.
Equally revealing is the fact that a substantial majority of respondents (53%) believe that the Hungarian government’s foreign policy serves Russia’s interests first and foremost and only minimally takes into account the interests of the European Community. According to the comprehensive survey, nearly one in two respondents consider peace and cooperation between Member States to be the most important of the European Union’s core values, but the issue of security of the rule of law was also of paramount importance to one in four respondents.
The Publicus survey also revealed that despite the government’s on-going efforts and propaganda to build alliances with the East, eight out of ten respondents believe that Hungary traditionally belongs to the West in terms of values and should therefore continue to strive towards the West. Interestingly, 40 per cent of respondents who say they support Fidesz think the opposite and would prefer Hungary to move eastwards, as opposed to just 17 per cent of those who are undecided.
Related to this is the finding that just 12 per cent of respondents in Hungary, in line with the government’s policy so far, think that Hungary should move closer to Russia rather than the European Union and the United States. In this respect, the Fidesz camp was again more permissive: 23 per cent of those who support the government think that Hungary should move away from the EU and move closer to Moscow instead.
It is worth noting that the smaller the settlements surveyed, the higher this figure was. The question on Hungary’s membership of NATO and the security provided by cooperation with NATO was much clearer, with 88% of respondents in favour: not a single respondent in the MSZP-Dialogue alliance was opposed to our membership of NATO, while in the Fidesz camp the figure was 11% at the time of the survey.
Commenting on the results of the survey, MEP István Ujhelyi said that the data recorded in the days before the Russian invasion had already started to make it clear that Fidesz had been successful in sensitizing its own camp and its supporters in favour of accepting Putin’s regime and against the European Union. “Despite all the sweaty flip-flop, the deliberate propaganda campaign of recent years has had a clear result: those who vote for Orbán vote for Putinism. Anyone who supports Fidesz is much more oriented to the East and despises the values of the European Union than anyone who is critical or oppositional to the current governing parties. These data only further clarified the stakes of the April elections: Orbanistan or Europe, Orbán and Putin or Europe and security. It is between these that we must choose,” István Ujhelyi concluded.
The full survey can be read HERE.
Budapest/Brussels – 05.03.2022.