The government has successfully convinced the majority both about the scope of the coronavirus law and the crackdown on sources of fake news about the epidemic: 58 percent of Hungarians would authorise the cabinet to introduce special measures until the “end of the epidemic”, and 72 percent agree with the specific tightening of the penal code, reveals the first telephone interview based public opinion poll conducted by Nézőpont Intézet during the work-from-home period.
90 percent of all Hungarians, 94 percent of pro-government and 80 percent of anti-government voters agree that the “state of emergency that has introduced emergency law in Hungary”, should be prolonged. Parliamentary opposition has nonetheless made acceptance of the accelerated procedure for the coronvirus bill subject to conditions and has not changed its position on the issue since. Most Hungarians, however, are not convinced. When asked how long “regulations introduced during the state of emergency” should remain in force, 58 percent said “until the end of the pandemic,” coinciding with the government’s proposal, and 39 percent said “only until June 30” so that “Parliament can decide again whether it should continue”. Thus, so far the opposition’s tactics don’t seem to be working. Although they have managed to gather support for their position, they remain in minority and their supporters are highly divided (48 percent of anti-government voters would extend the state of emergency until the end of the pandemic, and 50 percent would extend it until the end of June).
The overwhelming majority also supports a crackdown on sources spreading fake news about the epidemic. To avoid misinterpretation, we formulated our question as accurately as possible, quoting from the actual text of the law. In this case 72 percent of Hungarians agree, and 20 percent disagree with the statement that anyone who “in a state of emergency states a false fact or misrepresents a true fact to the wider public so that it is capable of obstructing or thwarting the effectiveness of defense shall be punishable by imprisonment of one to five years”. 62 percent of anti-government voters and 64 percent of Budapest residents even agree with the statement, which may discourage the opposition.
At the time of an epidemic the opposition should also seek cooperation. It is a warning sign that support for government measures remains outstandingly high. 89 percent of respondents agree with the suspension of evictions, and 95 percent with the extension of family benefits. Halfway through our survey conducted between Thursday and Saturday last week, the Hungarian PM announced a curfew, so the 71 percent support for a “curfew of some form” may only be indicative of the actual high acceptance of the measure.
Satisfaction with the cabinet’s focus on defense and crisis management remains high: three out of four respondents (74 percent) are satisfied with the government’s performance reflecting the national unity behind the government. Although 40 percent of anti-government voters are satisfied with the government’s performance during the pandemic, this support is unlikely to turn into votes.
The public opinion poll was conducted by Nézőpont Intézet between 26-28 March 2020 involving telephone interviews with 1,000 respondents. The sample is representative of the 18+ population by gender, age, region, settlement type and education level. A sample of 1,000 people at 95 percent accuracy level has a 3.16 percent margin of error.