Research questions ‘success’ of national consultation

History

While the Hungarian government describes its latest “national consultation” - whose tagline “Let’s stop Brussels!” has drawn international criticism - as the “most successful to date,” independent researcher Závecz Research says the survey cannot be seen as representative as most participants have been Fidesz voters, according to reports.

“The people of Hungary have understood the weight and importance of the questions on which we are awaiting their replies and opinions,” government spokesman Zoltán Kovács said at a public forum in Szigetvár on Friday, according to kormany.hu.

“This is also necessary to reinforce the standpoints represented by the Hungarian Government in disputes with the European Union,” Kovács added, according to the official government website.

The Hungarian government can expect to collide on several of these “standpoints,” as the “Let’s stop Brussels!” campaign has been received badly by European Union officials, as has the current Fidesz government’s strong anti-EU rhetoric, according to reports.

In a press release issued in late April on the European Commission website, the EC published a strongly worded response to what it described as “false claims” in the Hungarian governmentʼs “Let’s stop Brussels!” national consultation, addressing each claim in detail point by point.

Nevertheless, Kovács insisted that “consultations and forums help people better understand and provide people with a closer insight into the solutions, to truly enable us to serve the interests of the people.” He noted that the number of returned questionnaires crossed the 1.3 million mark on Friday.

The deadline for returning the governmentʼs questionnaire is May 20.

Závecz: Non-Fidesz voters ignore campaign

However, a Hungary-based independent researcher has shed a somewhat different light on the consultation itself. Commissioned by online news portal index.hu, Závecz Research conducted a representative opinion poll, finding that excluding Fidesz voters, Hungarians appear to have ignored the national consultation.

Additionally, the researcher found that only a few, mostly less educated respondents believe that the Hungarian government cares about the opinions of the people. The majority of those participating in the research said they were bothered by the governmentʼs campaign, describing it as manipulative, according to index.hu.

Although the government has already tagged the national consultation a success (similarly to an earlier survey when the majority of almost one million who sent the form back agreed with the government), the researcher argues that - whatever the answers - the questionnaire cannot be considered representative because the demography of participants is unclear. Index.hu notes that the data the national consultation collects do not attempt to measure the demographics of participants, and thus it cannot be known how distorted the sample of respondents might be.

Although the Stop Brussels campaign seemed to intensify after the most recent European Parliament meeting, according to latest reports billboards of the campaign have been disappearing rapidly.

Despite recent heavy anti-EU rhetoric from the side of the Hungarian government, which some political analysts claim should be interpreted in reality as domestic political communication prior to the general elections next year, the government says it is “committed” to the EU and aims to “change it from within.”

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