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The government’s image at home and abroad

February 26th, 2013

The man in charge of the government’s international image suggests that Hungary’s international critics have become more cautious. The editor in chief of a leftist daily is sceptical about the figures of a poll according to which most Hungarians still have faith in the government.

In a long interview with Magyar Hírlap, Ferenc Kumin, the government’s spokesman on international relations, admits that negative news about Hungary abounds in the foreign press and suggests that there are ‘groups and persons who intentionally spread negative views.’ Kumin comments that it is only natural that a small country draws attention to itself mainly when there is some conflict or scandal. It is hard to compete, he says, with people ‘like Paul Lendvai who is described as an expert on Hungary.’ (Austrian public television aired a report on Hungary in September, co-produced by Lendvai, which suggested that anti-Semitism is on the rise and that the government is authoritarian if not outright dictatorial.) Kumin also contends that while some ‘foreign media outlets have a propensity to attack Hungary,’ business news agencies provide a neutral picture, and nowadays emphasise the results of the government’s policies, rather than the drawbacks. He also mentions that journalists, who actually set foot on Hungarian soil, tend to be moderate in their criticism.

Péter Németh in his editorial for Népszava questions the credibility of a poll published by the pro-government Századvég think tank, which suggests that of the 61 per cent of the respondents who either watched the speech of the Prime Minister or ‘heard about it,’ 51%  said that they were satisfied, implying that the two-thirds majority is still behind him. This may or may not be true, says Németh:  but pollsters and polls have lost all credibility. And if someone were to object that the author (i.e. Péter Németh) himself is less than reliable, that only proves the point, he concludes.

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