Hungarians in fear of a new refugee influx finds poll

By bne IntelliNews September 26, 2016

Just over 80% of Hungarians fear that a new wave of refugees will arrive to the country next year, while 89% think that a terror attack will be committed again in Europe in the near future, according to a poll published on September 26.

The results of the poll appear to reflect the anti-immigrant campaign being run by the government in the weeks leading up to its national referendum on the EU’s migrant quota system to be held on October 2. The right-wing ruling Fidesz party is desperate for the turnout to pass the 50% threshold needed to make it valid in order to boost its standing as a leading light of the populist sentiment engulfing Europe. It appears the virulent campaign is working, pushing public opinion regardless of voters' political affiliation.

Overall, 82% of left-leaning voters are now afraid of a new influx of refugees. Amongst undecided voters questioned for the poll ordered by pro-government newspaper Magyar Idok, and carried out by pollster Nezopont Intezet, 77% share that fear.

The results illustrate that “public opinion about migration and terrorism is above party politics,” Magyar Idok writes, quoting Nezopont Intezet. That echoes recent claims made by Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The PM has refused to publicly debate opposition leaders ahead of the referendum, arguing that it is an “issue of national significance that transcends party politics”.

Pew Research Center, a Washington-based think-thank, found in July that among ten EU countries surveyed, anti-Muslim feeling is highest in Hungary (with 72% of respondents holding unfavourable views of Muslims). The government’s anti-immigrant campaign, which directly links refugees to terrorism, is likely to have strengthened those views during the summer.

A recent bombing in Budapest – which, according to the latest reports, is unlikely to have jihadist links but is clearly inciting fear of terror - also stands to aid the efforts of the ruling Fidesz party to push people into voting at the referendum.

Orban has repeatedly made it clear that he will seek to use a successful referendum result to push a campaign to raise his profile as a European heavyweight leading efforts to "reform" the EU.

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