According to Political Capital director Péter Krekó, xenophobia has reached a record level in Hungary. He attributes this to fear of the unknown and political incitement as well. Krekó sees that immigration policy in Hungary could not be stricter, and believes that UK Prime Minister David Cameron will not be a partner in Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s “vulgar xenophobia” . The analyst says not even far-right party leaders in Western Europe would dare make similar statements and definitely not Central European government leaders.
A recent poll conducted in April by pollster TÁRKI found that xenophobia in Hungary has reached a 14-year high, with 46 percent of adults saying that no asylum seekers should be allowed to enter Hungary, and only 9 percent of respondents saying all asylum seekers should be received.
Hungary’s results were the worst of the Visegrád Four. In Slovakia, Czech Republic and Poland, 39%, 32% and 18% of respondents, respectively, held xenophobic views in a survey concluded by Political Capital in 2013. On that survey Political Capital measured 45% in Hungary.
Xenophobic views and anti-immigrant feeling run high in Hungarian society even though immigrants are not a serious problem in the country, writes Political Capital in a survey conducted for the Friedrich Ebert Fund (FES). (FES is the oldest German political foundation close to Social Democrats (SPD) – ed.) This survey basically examines the social and political effects of the xenophobic campaign in the form of national consultation of the government, says Kreko, who was its co-author.
According to him, xenophobia is theoretical in Hungary because there are virtually no foreigners here. In European and in regional comparison the ratio of people coming from other cultures and speaking a different language wishing to settle down in Hungary is extremely low. Krekó said Hungary is a land of promise for only a very few because it is not attractive in terms of jobs or social welfare. In many European countries the ratio of immigrants is 6-10% while in Hungary it is just 2% or lower.
The rejection may have originated from the fear of the unknown, says the political analyst, who notes that this fear is totally baseless. According to a survey prepared by Eurobarometer six months ago, only 3% of Hungarians consider the issue of immigration important. This rate in Great-Britain is 38%, in Germany 37% and in Austria 20%. The scheme is very simple: there are many immigrants in Western Europe and only a few in Hungary, according to the survey.
The expert said research indicates the level of xenophobia and exclusion are increasing in Hungary. This is fueled by politics, not only on the part of ruling party Fidesz but also the opposition Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), which campaigned against “23 million Romanian jobseekers”, as well as on the part of far-right Jobbik, which campaigned against the Chinese and the Jews.
According to Krekó xenophobia is partly caused by the effect of politics on people’s opinions. For example, in Romania xenophobia is also very high, but there the prime minister says immigrants should be regarded as a human resource and we have to help their integration as this is our obligation as human beings. Orbán meanwhile says there is no need for solidarity and that illegal border crossing is not a sin that should be forgiven, he notes.
Krekó says neither the leaders of far-right political parties in Western Europe nor the leaders of Central European governments would dare make xenophobic statements similar to those of Orbán of late.
During his regular radio interview on Friday Orbán expressed his happiness over the victory of Cameron, who campaigned by initiating a referendum on EU membership. Regarding the question if Cameron could be Orbán’s ally in his campaign Krekó answered: “Definitely not in this vulgar xenophobia”.
According to Krekó the immigration policy is mostly the responsibility of the member states and the regulations in Hungary are very strict. The treatment of immigrants was frequently inhuman. “I do not think it could be even stricter,” he added.
“Viktor Orbán blames the EU for so many immigrants crossing the country but as the border with Serbia is the Schengen border zone as well, this is the responsibility of Hungary.” In his opinion this is the reason the national consultation questionnaire blaming the EU in all questions has minimal merit.