media structure

“Budapest is different”: The Republikon Institute’s latest poll

First, a correction to yesterday’s post. My information on Lapkiadó was inaccurate. In addition to Lapkiadó, where Mónika Karas worked, there was another company called Hírlapkiadó. Both were involved in the publication of newspapers but it was the latter that was more closely linked to the upper echelons of the party. Those who are interested in the Kádár regime’s media structure should read a detailed description of what the author himself calls a very complicated edifice. The 2009 article by Róbert Takács appeared in Médiakutató.

Now let’s move on to a poll conducted by the Republikon Institute that describes itself as a liberal think tank.  Republikon decided to conduct a study of Budapest’s social and political makeup, the title of which is “Budapest is different.” It is, of course, well known that Budapest is politically different from the rest of the country. It is enough to recall the 2006 election when Fidesz was leading until the Budapest vote started coming in. Therefore it was somewhat surprising when Budapest voted overwhelmingly for Fidesz candidates in 2010, although by the time the municipal elections rolled around a few months later the MSZP candidate for mayor managed to have a respectable showing.

Although Budapest is not a microcosm of Hungary, it is still worth taking a closer look at the city and its people. The Republikon Institute’s poll was taken between February 16 and March 4. The researchers of the Institute conducted 3,000 personal interviews, on the basis of which they came up with their findings. In early July they conducted a follow-up poll (1,200 personal interviews) on the latest party preferences of the population of Budapest.

Here are a few figures, some of which I found surprising. For example, I didn’t realize that in Budapest 25% of the population have a university degree as opposed to 12% nationwide. I knew that average salaries are much higher in the capital than elsewhere, but I wouldn’t have guessed that 32% of Budapest families take home more than 250,000 forints monthly as opposed to the national average of 14%. And, although I suspected that the people of Budapest are even less religious than the average Hungarian, I was struck by the fact that 50% of them actually admitted that they don’t believe.

The poll takers inquired from people where they would place themselves socially and economically. In Budapest most people described themselves as belonging to the middle class (53%) while nationwide the figure is only 44%. The number of white collar workers (értelmiségiek) is also much higher than the national average: 35% versus 22%. The same disparity is true in the reverse about blue collar workers ( 21% versus 35%) and people who identify themselves as Roma (5% versus 9%).

When it comes to political views, 35% of  the people sympathize with the left as against 25% nationwide. Only 21% describe themselves as conservative as opposed 37% nationwide.

When the respondents were asked about their feelings on liberalism versus conservatism, liberals beat the conservatives 49% to 30%. However, political liberalism doesn’t automatically translate into liberalism in social matters. When it comes to bringing up children, the Budapest respondents stress obedience and a strict upbringing.  A good portion of these same “liberal” people also think that wives should stay at home, looking after the house and the children (34%).

On some other issues, however, they hold more liberal views. They disapprove of the nationalization of schools (48%) and have strong views about the role of the churches. “Churches should stick to their original mission” is the general verdict. Therefore 49% of them don’t like like the idea of parochial schools financed by their tax forints.

After this general probing into societal attitudes, Republikon’s analysts moved on to the population’s political views. They posed two questions. The first was “What kind of government would you welcome after 2014?” In Budapest 47% of the electorate would welcome a left-opposition government (baloldali-ellenzéki kormány) as opposed to the national average of 36%. In Budapest there is a hard core who would like to see the  Fidesz government continue (27% as opposed to 33% nationwide) while 9% would welcome Jobbik. Only 11% didn’t answer the question or didn’t know. Fewer than nationwide (15%). In July when Republikon repeated the question, the answers were very similar.

Which parties' candidates would you vote for? Republikon Institute

Which parties’ candidates would you vote for?
Republikon Institute

Finally, when the respondents were asked how they would actually vote, the party alliance of MSZP, Együtt 2014-PM, and DK came out the big winner: 50% of Budapesters would vote for such an alliance. Fidesz would receive 34%, Jobbik 12% and LMP 4%.

Yes, Budapest is different but will Budapest lead the way once the left-opposition alliance is finally cemented? According to Zoltán Szabó (DK), in the past this was the case. I didn’t try to check Szabó’s contention, but I do share his (and others’) belief that people will be more enthusiastic about voting for the opposition once the parties announce the formation of an electoral alliance. Finishing the current negotiations is of paramount importance.