Lázár: Government xenophobic propaganda does not influence public opinion

February 2, 2018

Photo: MTI/Szilárd Koszticsák

The Hungarian government’s stance on immigration did not influence the Hungarian public, Minister Overseeing the Prime Minister’s Office János Lázár (pictured) told index.hu reporters.

Index.hu confronted Lázár with the government’s sudden u-turn regarding the distinction between political and economic refugees. Even though the government blames independent news outlets for distorting the government’s stance on immigration, the xenophobic anti-immigration propaganda of previous years might have contributed to the Hungarian society’s growing xenophobia, observed an index reporter.

Index.hu pointed out that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s comments of approval after the Őcsény violence, where villagers sent death threats and slashed the tires of the car of a local guesthouse owner who wanted to accommodate children granted asylum by the Hungarian state, might also have contributed to Hungarian citizens’ confusion regarding the government’s opinion about political refugees.

Claiming that he had recently rewatched all of the Prime Minister’s speeches about immigration, Lázár insisted that Orbán also distinguished between refugees and economic migrants, and rejected the allegation that Orbán’s vehement anti-immigration rhetoric contributed to the fact that now a huge portion of the society cannot distinguish between political and economic refugees.

“I do not agree with those who think that the opinion of Hungarian people is determined by the government’s opinion or guided by its activity,” Lázár said. Then, the Minister cited polls conducted in the 1990s and the 2000s that found that Hungarian society does not favor foreigners in their neighborhood.

“I think the government’s statements, that in your opinion influenced the public, were rather factual. I do not think that these [statements] substantially pushed the society towards being xenophobic, anti-admission, anti-immigrant. Just check the earlier condition of the Hungarian society from this point of view,” Lázár concluded.

This is not the first occasion when Lázár denied the effect of the government’s hate-mongering anti-immigration propaganda. In October 2017, after the Őcsény incident, he stated that government propaganda had nothing to do with the events, as in his opinion “the Hungarian society is inherently like this.”