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Xenophobia declines despite media focus

History

Jessica Fejos

In a poll conducted in July by Hungarian pollster Tárki, two fifths of Hungarians expressed xenophobic sentiments, signifying a drop from peak levels seen in April.

According to the July survey, 39% of respondents said no asylum seekers should be allowed to enter Hungary at all, which is a drop from the peak level recorded in April that showed 45% of those polled expressed the same sentiment.

This decline comes in spite of the mediaʼs constant focus on Europeʼs migration crisis and the government-sponsored national consultation questionnaires on the issue, accompanied by a billboard campaign, which opponents claimed was anti-immigrant.

Some 56% of respondents of the July survey said they would be willing to hear arguments on granting asylum to applicants, with 5% saying all asylum seekers should be taken in.

According to the pollster, xenophobic sentiments were more likely to be expressed by those living in areas affected by the presence of migrants, as well as low-wage earners and far-right radical Jobbik voters. Those least likely to meet migrants were less likely to express xenophobia.

The Hungarian government has been espousing anti-immigrant rhetoric in the past few months and is currently building a “temporary” wire fence on the Serbian border, where the majority of refugees arrive to Hungary, to “protect” the country from “illegal immigrants”. While the huge influx of migrants poses difficulties for the European Union as a whole, those who oppose the Hungarian government’s measures claim that the fence is not a solution, and it is Europe’s joint humanitarian responsibility to help those in need.

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