Internet platform for studying Xenophobia, Radicalism and Problems of Intercultural communication.

Treatment of Minorities

Treatment of Minorities

The majority of the Hungarian public have traditionally negative attitudes towards foreigners and certain ethnic groups. Prejudice is the strongest against the Roma, and its prevalence has been remarkably stable in the past two decades. According to the latest extensive poll conducted in 2011, 82 percent of the Hungarian population thought that “the problems of the Roma would be solved if they started to work at last”, 60 percent agreed with the statement that “the inclination to criminality is in the blood of Gypsies”, and 42 percent considered that “it is only right that there are still pubs, clubs and discos where Gypsies are not let in”.

According to a research conducted by Hungarian polling institute Tárki every year since 1992, openly-admitted xenophobia reached a record high in April 2015. At that time 46 percent of the adult population said that asylum seekers should not be allowed to enter Hungary. The rate of those who think that asylum seekers should be admitted or rejected depending on the merits of the case was 45 percent. Only 9 percent of the respondents said that all asylum seekers should be admitted unconditionally. The highest level so far was reported back in 2001 when 43 percent of the respondents were considered xenophobic. In 2012 the ratio of xenophobes started to rise and in 2013 and 2014 the ratio was higher than the average of the 2000s. The highest rejection rate was recorded against Arabs, at 94 percent, followed closely by the Roma minority, the Chinese, Africans and Romanians. The lowest rate of rejection measured was against Hungarians from the neighbouring countries, only 7 percent of the sample rejected them. The survey also measures the negative sentiments against Pirezians, a fictional ethnic group invented by Tárki. The high rejection rate of Pirezians (around 60 percent) shows the general negative attitude of Hungarians towards foreigners.

According to Political Capital Institute’s Demand for Right-Wing Extremism (DEREX) Index, the ratio of xenophobic voters in Hungary is remarkably high even in regional comparison.

However, looking at other member states, a 13 percent rate of mentions falls short of a 23 percent average measured in the EU. Moreover, in 12 member states at the national level immigration was deemed to be a greater problem than in Hungary. In other words, the Hungarian data was squarely in the middle of the field. However, Hungarians considered the issue of immigration to be a much larger problem at the European Union level than at the national level. 43 percent believed that migration is one of the two most urgent issues the EU is facing. Even though there is a general tendency among EU member states that immigration is considered to be a more serious problem at the EU level than at the national level, the 30 percentage point difference between opinions regarding the importance of immigration at the national and the EU level in Hungary is significantly high within the EU (it is the second largest gap after Slovakia where the discrepancy is 31 percent). In other words, in May 2015 Hungarians believed that immigration was truly urgent and had to be resolved within the EU, while in Hungary other burning issues should have been on the top of the agenda. According to the survey, 7 out of 10 people expressed negative feelings towards migrants coming from outside the EU. Essentially, this is the same number which had been measured six months earlier.

According to Eurobarometer’s surveys, the number of those believing that migration to Hungary is an important issue quadrupled between November 2014 and May 2015. While in November 2014 only 3 percent of the population listed immigration as one of the two most important domestic problems, in the Eurobarometer survey conducted in the second half of May 2015 their number already increased to 13 percent. Thus, the importance of immigration has come to equal that of pension benefits, public debt and crime. At the same time, there was no change in respect to the four issues of most concern (unemployment, state of the economy, health care and welfare security, and rising prices and inflation).

Research shows that the negative attitudes towards immigrants (and foreigners) is independent from the actual number of refugees entering Hungary or foreigners living in the country, Already in June 2014, well before the huge influx of refugees to Hungary started, 47 percent of the adult population thought that too many migrants arrive from countries outside the European Union, according to Political Capital’s research conducted by Ipsos. However, the significant ratio of non-respondents (24 percent) suggests that a large number of people have never had any personal experience with migrants. At that time (well before the government’s anti-immigration campaign), Jobbik sympathizers were the most likely to express intolerant attitudes, with 58 percent saying there were too many migrants. While the absolute majority did not agree with the statement that “the majority of migrants are criminals”, a significant minority, three out of ten respondents, agreed to it, at least to some extent.

Regarding anti-Semitic sentiments, Hungarian polling institute Medián conducted a public-opinion survey commissioned by the Action and Protection Foundation at the end of 2014. According to their findings, the size of groups completely immune to anti-Jewish sentiment and those extremely sensitive to the issue has increased since 2013. According to the study, roughly one-third of the population is characterized by anti-Semitism and one-fifth by strong anti-Jewish attitudes. At the same time, seven out of ten are not anti-Semitic. Between 2006 and 2011 anti-Semitism grew significantly in Hungary and since then it seems to have been decreasing again. Anti-Jewish attitudes are closely related to party preferences. Among Fidesz-KDNP sympathizers the ratio of anti-Semites is above average, while it is below average among those supporting leftist opposition parties (with the slight exception of Együtt-PM supporters). Typically, the incidence of anti-Semitism is exceptionally high among Jobbik supporters. 53 percent of them are strongly and 15 percent moderately anti-Semitic. At the same time, 32 percent of Jobbik supporter are not anti-Semitic, i.e., it cannot be claimed that all followers of the radical party subscribe to anti-Semitic theories. According to the researchers, anti-Semitism is the manifestation of a general xenophobia within the Hungarian society. Data shows that respondents with negative views of other ethnic groups are also more likely to have negative views of Jews.

According to a survey carried out at the end of 2017, 84 per cent of respondents would not give consent for a migrant to move into their neighbourhood. The rejection of Arabs (72 per cent) and blacks (63 per cent), who are associated with migrants, are also high and it increased considerably in the past few years. 72 per cent of the Hungarian population oppose a Roma, 56 per cent a homosexual, and 37 per cent a Jew moving into their neighbourhood. Respondents were also asked to evaluate various minorities using a nine-point scale, where one meant that the respondent has extremely negative feelings about the given minority and nine that he/she has an extremely positive attitude. In 2017, migrants scored 2.7, Arabs 3.4, Roma 3.5, blacks 3.9, and Jews 4.9.

At the end of 2017, the Hungarian polling institute Medián conducted a public opinion survey at the behest of the Action and Protection Foundation. According to its findings, 64 per cent of the population was not anti-Semitic, 10 per cent were moderately antisemitic, and 27 per cent were strongly anti-Semitic. Antisemitism grew significantly between 2006 and 2011. After that, it decreased a little bit and then stayed on that level. In 2013 and 2016, the proportion of moderate anti-Semites was between 18 and 13 per cent respectively, and that of extreme anti-Semites 20 per cent. For 2017, the data show a considerable increase in the proportion of extreme anti-Semites, again reaching the 2011 levels. However, the proportion of moderate anti-Semites is somewhat lower, ten compared to 14 per cent.

Looking at the content of anti-Semitic views, statements about the excessive influence of Jews, including the existence of a secret Jewish conspiracy, is higher than agreement with statements reflecting traditional Christian Judeophobia. Moreover, agreement with statements about Jewish influence has increased over the years. Statements connected to new antisemitism were also included in the survey. Forty-two percent of Hungarians agreed with the statement that “Jews living in Hungary are more loyal to Israel than to this country,” 41 percent believed that “Hungarian Jews would rather support Israel in a match between Hungary and Israel,” and 37 percent thought that “Israel is an aggressor and commits genocide against the Palestinians.”

Anti-Jewish attitudes are closely related to party preferences. Typically, anti-Semitism is exceptionally high among Jobbik supporters. 41 per cent of them are extremely and 15 per cent moderately anti-Semitic. These numbers rightly raise the question of whether there is any substantive change behind the rebranding strategy of Jobbik. Although in previous years, the ratio of ‘non-anti-Semites’ has been the same among the supporters of the governing Fidesz-KDNP and the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), data from 2017 show a considerable change. The ratio of anti-Semites is at five percentage points more among the latter. Moreover, the strength of anti-Semitism also changed. In 2016, among the supporters of Fidesz-KDNP, approximately one-third of anti-Semites had moderate and two-third strong anti-Semitic views, among the supporters of MSZP it was the other way around. In 2017, the structure stayed almost the same in the case of Fidesz-KDNP but turned upside down in the case of MSZP: “only” one-fifth of anti-Semites hold moderate, and four-fifth extreme anti-Semitic views.

The anti-immigration campaign of Fidesz, as described previously in detail, follows extensive Islamophobic rhetoric. Muslims are portrayed as an existential, cultural, and religious threat to the very existence of the Hungarian nation. Although respondents were not asked particularly about Muslims in the research mentioned earlier, it is reasonable to assume that the high rejection rate of Arabs and migrants have a high correlation with that of Muslims. The Pew Research Center, in its Global Attitude Survey in the spring of 2017, found that 66 and 64 per cent of Hungarians, respectively, think that a large number of refugees and ISIS are a major threat to the country.

According to a 2019 Pew Research report Pew Research, attitudes towards Muslims in Hungary was one of the worst in Europe. 58% of the country's population declared their negative attitude towards them. Things were worse only in the Czech Republic (64%), Poland (66%) and Slovakia (77%). Interestingly, all of these countries have minimal Muslim populations compared to Greece, Italy and, for example, France. At the same time, 51% of the voters of the ruling Fidesz party were anti-Islamic.

18% of Hungarian respondents have a negative attitude towards Jews, and 60% have a positive attitude. This is about the same as in Russia (18/75), the Czech Republic (17/65) and Bulgaria (18/69), but significantly less than in Greece (36/51), Poland (31/59) and Slovakia (30/58). However, the most negative attitude is experienced by the inhabitants of Hungary towards the Roma people. 61% of respondents have negative feelings towards them and 25% have positive ones. Approximately the same ratio (61/30) takes place in Lithuania, things are slightly worse in the Czech Republic (66/27) and Bulgaria ((68/28). However, this indicator is much better than the Greek (72/25), Slovak (76 /21) and Italian (83/14).

39% of Hungarian respondents have a negative attitude towards LGBT people, which is a fairly high level in Europe - only Greece, Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Russia are higher. Less than half of the country's population (49%) have a positive attitude towards them.

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