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Hungarians and conspiracy theories

August 21st, 2013

According to a recent poll, 42 per cent of Hungarians believe in secret plots aimed at ruling their country from behind the scenes. Although Fidesz voters are less likely to buy these conspiracy theories than Socialist sympathizers, a left-wing commentator blames the government for the popularity of such views.

A recent survey published by the liberal think tank Political Capital reports that 42 per cent of Hungarians believe that Hungary is ruled by secret powers in one way or another. According to the poll, such views are shared by 68 per cent of Jobbik supporters, 52 per cent of LMP voters and 49 per cent of Socialist sympathizers, while 43 per cent of Fidesz and 32 per cent of Together voters also subscribe to these conspiracy theories. A high number of Jobbik sympathizers also believe that the Fidesz government is itself part of the secret scheme. 37 per cent of those interviewed agree that international investors are behind the plots, while 23 per cent suspect that foreign governments are trying to exert power over Hungary. A similar survey in France showed that 77 per cent of the population believed that foreign investors want to rule their country from the background. In Slovakia, 63 per cent (50 per cent more than in Hungary) believed in the existence of a hidden background power.

In Népszabadság, Róbert Friss finds it sad that the left-wing parties have not succeeded in deconstructing conspiracy theories. Despite the fact that the narrative is as popular on the left as on the right, Friss suggests that the prevalence of conspiracy theories about  secret powers ruling the country from the shadows is the result of the Fidesz government’s combative rhetoric, which blames all its own failures on the alleged attempts of foreign investors and international organizations to colonize the country. The left-wing commentator likens the government’s rhetoric to the past Communist leadership which bowed to Soviet pressure while at the same time tried to make the Hungarian public believe that they had managed to trick Moscow. This strategy, Friss speculates, prepares the grounds for full-fledged authoritarian rule by convincing Hungarians that only a strong leader can effectively further the interests of the country.

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