The Hungarian government on Friday launched a “national consultation” billed as “protecting” the country against alleged European Union policies, including war-torn Ukraine’s potential membership of the bloc.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s nationalist government has, since 2015, frequently used such questionnaires, backed by extensive multimedia campaigns, to claim legitimacy for its positions and to attack EU policies.
The taxpayer-funded survey — entitled “National consultation on the defence of our sovereignty” — has no legal weight.
But on November 10 Orban said if the government obtained “confirmation” of its policies in the questionnaire, it could continue to “hold out” in its battle with Brussels over migration, which he previously said had a “clear link (with) terrorist acts”.
For each of the 11 questions in the survey, respondents have only two alternatives to choose from.
In all but one instance, the first option is to support the Hungarian government’s stance and object to the EU’s supposed policies.
The second is to accept them.
Hungary is a member of the 27-nation bloc but Orban regularly clashes with his country’s EU partners, not only on migration but also on issues such as the independence of the media and the courts, and LGBTQ rights.
The government unveiled the questions included in the survey on its Facebook page on Friday.
Almost all are related to actual or alleged EU policies, including migration.
Hungary opposes a planned reform of the EU’s asylum rules which seeks to share out responsibility for hosting asylum seekers among EU members, or to contribute to the costs of that.
One question on the survey claims “Brussels wants to establish migrant ghettos” in Hungary.
Another says “grants from Brussels to Palestinian organisations have also reached Hamas”.
Neither of these allegations are proven.
Militant group Hamas launched an attack into Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 7, killing 1,200 people — most of them civilians — and taking around 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials.
Israel has retaliated with relentless air bombardments and a ground operation that have killed 11,500 people in Gaza — including thousands of children, according to Hamas-run authorities in the besieged Palestinian territory.
Orban has a close relation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and has voiced full support for Israel’s military offensive on Gaza.
Four of the questions on the survey are related to neighbouring Ukraine.
They concern Ukraine’s potential EU membership, the bloc’s plan to send it more weapons and support it financially, and Hungary’s import ban on Ukrainian agricultural products.
Budapest has strained relations with Kyiv over the rights of the Hungary minority in the Transcarpathian region of Ukraine.
On the other hand, Orban has maintained close ties with the Kremlin since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
The last question on the survey alleges that “money from Brussels and overseas” is being used to influence Hungarian politics.
The governing Fidesz party announced earlier this year it was drafting legislation to “protect the country’s sovereignty” against foreign interference.
Citizens are asked to return the questionnaire by post by January 10.
It will also be possible, shortly, to fill it in online, government spokesperson Alexandra Szentkiralyi said on Facebook.
This is not the first such nationwide survey that Orban’s government has launched on supposed EU policies.
Last year Hungary held a national consultation on EU sanctions against Russia.
The cost of postage and printing alone amounted to 2.7 billion forint ($7.7 million).
By the end, 1.4 million of Hungary’s eight million voters, or 17.5 percent, had returned the survey.
Based on their answers, the government claimed 97 percent of Hungarians were against Russian sanctions.