Henry Kirby in London -
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s popularity at home has risen steadily throughout 2015, even as the negative attention that his populist government is receiving during the EU migrant crisis grows.
At 48%, Orban’s approval rating sits nearly 20 percentage points (pp) higher than his nearest rival, the liberal LMP party’s Andras Schiffer, who achieved a 29% rating.
The controversial leader’s inflammatory rhetoric throughout the refugee crisis, which has seen him describe the current influx of Iraqi and Syrian refugees as “scrounging migrants”, appears to have bolstered his support rather than damaged it.
Recently, Hungary has become the entry point to the EU’s passport-free Schengen Area for tens of thousands of migrants arriving via its border with Serbia – an influx that the Hungarian authorities have taken draconian measures in dealing with.
Despite this, Orban’s popularity has grown since the advent of the crisis, with the conservative Fidesz party leader enjoying an 8pp boost in his approval since the beginning of the year.
According to the Szazadveg Economic Research Institute, which conducted the poll, Orban made most of his gains among undecided and right-leaning voters who support either Fidesz or the far-right Jobbik party, as well as voters who said they had become disenchanted with Fidesz after the 2014 election.
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