Poll finds Hungarians support EU membership review, sovereign default

By bne IntelliNews February 8, 2013

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Two-thirds of Hungarians would like to see the country review its EU membership or some of its commitments resulting from membership, according to a poll conducted by the Iranytu Institute. A similar percentage of respondents would support a sovereign default.

The profile of the EU is hardly high anywhere given the current crisis ravaging the Eurozone. On top of that, given the tempestuous relations between Budapest and Brussels over the last year, and in particular the rudimentary propaganda campaign carried out by the Fidesz government (the full page ad in the tabloid press thundering that Hungary will not bow to EU dictatorship was perhaps the apex - or nadir?) the antipathy toward the bloc is not surprising.

According to the survey, only 23.8% of those polled oppose the idea of reviewing Hungary's relations with the EU, while 9.7% did not take a stand.

Huge celebration marked the accession of the Visegrad countries in 2004, with the event marking their "return" to Europe, and with many assuming a rapid economic convergence with countries to the west. However, close to nine years later, just 17% of Hungarians think their country has benefited from EU membership. By way of contrast, 44% said Hungary has lost out. Another 28% said Hungary has both won and lost, and 11% did not know.

The impact of the long-running fight with the EU and IMF over Budapest's economic policy also appears to impact opinion in the country on another issue. According to Hungary Around the Clock, around 40% of respondents would support a renegotiation of Hungary's state debt, if it did not harm Hungary's image - quite how that could work is not discussed - while 26% would support it regardless. Such a move would do more harm than good in the view of 22%, and 12% were undecided.

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