Majority of Hungarians see deepened social divisions


Citizens in 27 countries in the world were surveyed to discover how divided societies have become in the 21st century. The survey, commissioned by the BBC and conducted by pollster Ipsos MORI, shows that Hungarians and South Koreans have the lowest tolerance for people with different backgrounds, cultures or points of view.

The poll, carried out online among adults aged under 65 in January and February this year, investigated public attitudes towards divisions and social tensions around the world.  The study found that three in four people on average across the 27 countries (76%) think that society in their country is divided.

The poll showed that the country most concerned about such divisions is Serbia, where most people (93%) said their society is divided. Hungary ranked sixth among the most divided countries according to respondents (86%), followed by Great Britain (85%), and Poland (84%). The least likely to say their country is divided were citizens of Saudi Arabia (34%) and China (48%).

In addition, a majority of Hungarians (69%) said they think their country is more divided today than ten years ago, which places Hungary sixth of the 27 countries, after Spain and Sweden (77% and 73%), and ahead of the United States and Poland (67% and 64%). In Hungary, the greatest cause of tensions was felt to exist between people with different political views (50%), as in the case of Poland, Turkey and Serbia (all 63%).

Hungarians also polled among the lowest rates (48%) of those who believe that people across the world have more things in common than things that make them different, between Japan (35%) and South Korea (49%).

Views were split regarding whether people are tolerant of people with different backgrounds, cultures or points of view; globally, 46% said their country is very/fairly tolerant, while 50% said it is not very / not at all tolerant. People in Hungary and South Korea reported the lowest levels of tolerance (16% and 20%, respectively).

Other findings of the survey included:

- When asked if people in their country have become more or less tolerant over the last decade, on balance, more people said that people have become less tolerant (39%) than more tolerant (30%). People in Hungary (62%), Belgium (57%) and Italy (57%) were most likely to say their country has become less tolerant.

- Mixing with people from other backgrounds was seen with more suspicion in European countries. Globally, only 14% said mixing with people from other backgrounds, cultures or points of view causes conflict, but this ratio was higher in Hungary (34%), Sweden (33%), Germany (29%), and Belgium (27%).

- Groups that the poll found to be least trusted include those with different political views (18%), immigrants (16%), and people who are wealthier (13%).  People with different political views were least trusted in South Korea (35%), Turkey and Malaysia (both 28%), whereas people were least trusting of immigrants in Russia (34%), Malaysia (31%), and Hungary (28%).

Commenting on the results, Ipsos MORIʼs Glenn Gottfried told the BBC that Europeans appeared to believe divisions have grown more pronounced.

"This could be a reflection of the political climate and a swing towards the right that we have seen in parts of the continent, or at least the political climate could be a result of people feeling more tensions. The two are correlated," he noted.

More traditional perceptions of social division also persist, Gottfried continued.

"Tensions based on class and income still exist. In Britain, for example, about a third see tension between rich and poor, and in Hungary more people see tension between rich and poor than in relation to immigrants," he noted.

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