Hungarians trust civil society more than politicians according to Publicus survey

April 18, 2016

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At the behest of Vasárnapi Hírek (Sunday News) the Publicus Institute conducted a representative public opinion survey between April 8th and 12th on attitudes about the relationship betwen civil initiatives and politics involving 1000 respondents.  For every ten persons asked, eight or nine said that they have been following the civil and professional protests of late in education and public health-care.  On the relation between civil initiatives and politics, two images are formed.  On the one hand, trust in civil initiatives is high as three-quarters of those asked said they supported steps taken by the civil sector if determined steps are not taken by politicians.  On the other hand, respondents expect politicians to act as three-quarters do not believe civils to be capable of achieving substantive change, and two-thirds believe politicians should solve problems that arise.  For this reason it is not surprising either that two-thirds of those asked believe civils should ally themselves with the political opposition.  A similar image emerges when examining actors in education and health-care.  Respondents believe civil actors participating in the education system on the whole to be more credible than politicians.  All the civil actors scored more than 50 with regard to credibility, while among politicians the most credible government party politician was Zoltán Pokorni and the most credible opposition figure was Ágnes Kunhalmi.

For every ten persons asked about the civil and professional protests characteristic of education and health-care in the recent past, eight or nine (85 percent) said they were following them.  This was generally the case across the political spectrum.  Only those under 45 years of age demonstrated less interest.

civil attention

Two images emerge concerning the relation between civil initiatives and politics.  On the one hand, trust in civil initiatives is high.  On the other hand they expect solutions from politicians.   Three-quarters (72 percent) of respondents support steps taken by civil society if politicians fail to take determined steps.

Six out of ten believe professional representatives have the opportunity to state their opinion to legislators.  In this quesiton every examined social group thought similarly.  Only the opinion of Fidesz supporters varied somewhat from the majority

The limits to the ability to act on the part of civil society indicate that reponsdents were very divided on the question of how effectively matters are represented on the political level.  Less than one half (47 percent) of respondents believe that involvement in politics by civils is more likely to fail, and less than 39 percent responded to the contrary.  In this question Fidesz voters and independents believe similarly that civil initiatives are likely to fail.  Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) and far-right Jobbik supporters see things similarly in the opposite manner.

Civil and politicians

Meanwhile respondents clearly expect politicians to act.  Three-quarters (75 percent) said it was natural that civilians promote their own interests, but not likely to achieve substantive changes.  Two-thirds of respondents (67 percent) think that it is not civil actors but politicians who must solve expert political problems that arise.  In this regard there is no difference in the opinion of various social groups.

Two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents agree that it is not enough for civils to demonstrate in the streets, but that they need to collaborate with opposition parties.  In this question Fidesz supporters see things differently, and the majority (50 percent) of them do not agree with this statement, while the percentage of MSZP and Jobbik supporters agreeing with this statement is expressly high (89 and 83 percent).

Civils and politicians 2

The duality of the relationship between civil actors and politicians can also be seen in the case of those involved in education.   On the whole respondents find those civil actors involved in the current education protests to be more credible than politicians.

The credibility of Katalin Törley, Mrs. István Galló, László Mendrey, and István Pukli and other civil and trade union actors in education is above 50 (between 52 and 57 points), while among politicians the most credible government party politician is Zoltán Pokorni (52 points), and the most credible opposition politician is Ágnes Kunhalmi (50 points).

Other politicians involved in education examined, such as Dóra Dúró, István Hiller, László Palkovics and Zoltán Balog, had negative credibility ratings, that is under 50 points (44-49 points).  Among them are two government members overseeing education.

Of course, voters consider the politicians of the party they support to be the most credible.  MSZP voters found civil and trade union leaders to be the most credible.  They were followed by uncertain voters and Jobbik supporters.  In the case of Fidesz voters, the former had negative credibility ratings.

In the case of Mária Sándor, however, we measured an expressly high level of credibility in all social groups.  She is considered credible mostly by MSZP supporters (89 percent), Jobbik voters and uncertain voters (78 and 77 percent).  However, even two-thirds of Fidesz supporters (64 percent) believe she credibly represents the health-care problems.

civils and politicians

Nearly two-thrids (62 percent) of respondents agreed with the demands of the teachers, while merely a quarter (27 percent) indicated that they tended not to agree with their demands.  In comparison to a survey conducted in February, here some variation can be observed.  At that time the ratio was 76 – 14 percent.

The motor of change is primarily Fidesz voters — among them the ratio of those disagreeing changed by 20 percentage points — and to a lesser extent Jobbik voters and uncertain where less than a 10 percentage point change was observed. MSZP supporters tend to agree more with their demands now than in February.

Teachers agree


The questionnaire-based survey was conducted between April 8th and 12th, 2016 by Publicus Institute using a representative group of 1000 individuals surveyed by telephone as part of the Publicus Omnibus.  Distortions arising from the sample group were adjusted using information from the 2011 Census.  The respondents were representative of the country based on sex, age, level of education, region, settlement type.  In addition to the sample group, the data obtained over the course of the survey is 95 percent accurate and varies at most + / – 3.1 percent from what would have been obtained asking all Hungarians over the age of 18.  However, the margin of error is larger if we pose the question to a smaller subgroup than to the entire group of respondents.