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Hungarian Opinions on Vaccination and Handling of Pandemic Influenced by Politics

Tamás Vaski 2021.04.15.

Recent surveys confirm a correlation between the political views of Hungarians and their opinions on pandemic operations and vaccination. What is also interesting is the way in which different research institutes measure and present their findings, possibly in order to prove certain political statements.

Leftist daily Népszava stated based on a survey by the left-leaning Publicus Institute that opposition supporters are more in favor of vaccination than supporters of Fidesz, while pro-government Mandiner, based on the survey of the pro-Fidesz Nézőpont Institute, said the same for Fidesz supporters. Although the two news outlets make completely conflicting statements up front, their findings say a lot about opinions among Hungary’s population.

Surveys Used to Back Political Opinions?

When the Publicus Insitute asked its one thousand respondents whether they believe the opposition is against vaccination, 61 percent of respondents, most of them opposition supporters, said no. Two-thirds of pro-Fidesz respondents said that the opposition is against vaccination.

Foreign Minister Warns against Politicising Vaccines
Foreign Minister Warns against Politicising Vaccines

Because vaccines are the only alternative to the coronavirus pandemic, they must not be made into a political issue, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó told a press conference he held jointly with World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in Geneva on Thursday. The world is clearly seeing an exponential rise in Covid-19 cases and a […]Continue reading

Publicus strategic director András Pulai concluded, based on this statistic, that the government’s assertion that the opposition is anti-vaccination is “no more than political propaganda.”

While it does not make such a direct statement, the Mandiner article implies that based on Nézőpont’s survey, the influence of the opposition on its supporters makes them 12 percent less likely to support vaccination than the national average.

Fidesz Starts Campaign against 'Anti-Vaccine Opposition'
Fidesz Starts Campaign against 'Anti-Vaccine Opposition'

Hungary’s governing Fidesz party has initiated a campaign against opposition parties, which they accuse of attempting to discourage the public from being vaccinated. Their announcement prompted the joint opposition to put up a video in which its leaders call on everyone to be vaccinated, putting the blame for the coronavirus crisis on the government instead. […]Continue reading

Social-liberal Democratic Coalition leader Ferenc Gyurcsány, accused by Fidesz of being against vaccination, has previously referred to Publicus’ findings in stating that opposition supporters are more likely to be pro-vaccination. Mandiner brought this up, claiming that their article had found the exact opposite.

Fidesz Voters Open to Non-EMA Vaccines

Publicus’ survey found that 51 percent of Fidesz-KDNP supporters would be willing to be vaccinated if they could choose their vaccine of preference. This is more than supporters of DK, Jobbik, and Momentum, but less than the 84 percent willingness among socialist MSZP supporters.

Sinopharm in Center of Professional and Political Debate After Reports Question Effectiveness
Sinopharm in Center of Professional and Political Debate After Reports Question Effectiveness

The Chinese Sinopharm vaccine is yet again at the center of dispute in Hungary after several press reports surfaced around its alleged low effectiveness. Opposition politicians are demanding transparency from the Orbán government and to release all available information regarding the vaccine. Meanwhile, several experts call for antibody studies to clarify the issue. The Chinese […]Continue reading

Willingness for specific vaccines also varies based on party support. While 75 percent of Fidesz voters would theoretically support a Sinopharm vaccination, only 18 percent of Jobbik supporters would feel the same.

This is comparable to the 68 percent of Fidesz voters supporting Pfizer, less than the 86 percent of support from opposition supporters. It is worth noting that the Orbán government has been campaigning in support of Eastern vaccines, while the importance and effectiveness of Western vaccines has barely been mentioned by pro-government politicians or media outlets.

Gov't Commissioner Lázár: Lack of Western Vaccines Caused Deaths of 20,000 Hungarians
Gov't Commissioner Lázár: Lack of Western Vaccines Caused Deaths of 20,000 Hungarians

János Lázár, former head of the Prime Minister’s Office, and member of parliament from Fidesz, told Radio 7 that politicians who had entrusted themselves with purchasing vaccines only from Brussels had made a life-threatening decision. He argued that the purchase of Chinese and Russian vaccines on the other hand, saved over half a million people […]Continue reading

Hungarians More Willing to be Vaccinated

Unlike Népszava, Mandiner discussed the overall willingness to be vaccinated growing among Hungarians. since January, support for vaccination has grown by 45 percent, and currently stands at 72 percent of the whole population.

According to Mandiner, this increased willingness is due to the increasing variety of vaccines, the organization of vaccination centers, and people being tired of pandemic conditions.

Most Hungarians Unaware of Death Rate

A third survey by liberal-leaning Medián measured different but related statistics among Hungary’s population. It found that only half of Hungarians consider Hungary’s death rate to be bad or very bad, and most do not even know the general number of people who have fallen victim to the virus.

FM Szijjártó: Hungarian Gov't's 'Non-Textbook' Response to Covid Proved Effective
FM Szijjártó: Hungarian Gov't's 'Non-Textbook' Response to Covid Proved Effective

The Hungarian government’s measures taken to tackle the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have proved to be effective, the minister of foreign affairs and trade said on Monday. Péter Szijjártó said that the government had “not taken the textbook approach; it wanted more than the EU’s vaccine purchases and it did not […]Continue reading

Only 36 percent of respondents knew that there have been 20-25 thousand coronavirus related fatalities in Hungary, and 36 percent believe the death rate to be at a good or very good standing. Meanwhile, the grim reality is that Hungary has been the world leader in daily deaths per million based on its rolling 7-day average since March 21. The country’s overall pandemic statistics do not fair well either, since it has the second highest death rate per 1 million people in the world.

The majority of these respondents support the government too, since 70 percent of those who wish for a new government consider Hungary’s death statistics to be in poor shape.

Hungarians Relatively Satisfied with Government

Respondents were also asked to rate the governments handling of the pandemic on a scale of 0 to 100. Understandably, Fidesz sympathizers rated the government’s performance higher (79) while opposition rated it lower (40). Supporters of neither gave it a score of 55. These scores were all better than they were in March.

Hungarian Press Roundup: Coronavirus and Vaccination as Political Battlefields
Hungarian Press Roundup: Coronavirus and Vaccination as Political Battlefields

As the third wave of the pandemic sweeps through Hungary, commentators from across the political divide discuss the government’s strategy and speculate on the possible date of the end of the emergency. Hungarian press roundup by budapost.eu In Magyar Demokrata, Judit Szabó looks back at the year of coronavirus emergency and suggests that we have good reasons to be […]Continue reading

Everyone rated the government’s handling of the economic crisis lower. Fidesz supporters gave the government 72 points, opposition supporters 31 points, and non-aligned respondents gave it 50 points.

Featured photo illustration by Zoltán Balogh/MTI