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National Consultation Number 9

June 20th, 2020

A liberal sociologist slams the government’s latest national consultation questionnaire as a mere propaganda tool, while a pro-government analyst sees it as a smart exercise in democracy.

The government has mailed a questionnaire to all adult citizens asking their opinion on its policies in tackling the coronavirus pandemic and on its plans to reboot the economy. This is the ninth such public consultation by the government in as many years.

On Klub Rádió, pollster and sociologist Endre Sík thinks that if the government was really interested in the opinion of the population on certain issues, a representative poll would do the job perfectly well and would cost the tax-payer several hundred times less. He concludes therefore that the government wants to get into direct touch with as many people as possible and win them over to its policies. The questions put to the population, he explains, are in fact justifications for the approach already taken by the government. The National Consultation campaign is professional, he asserts, but, only as an exercise in propaganda.

In Magyar Nemzet, political scientist János Simon praises the government’s habit of regularly consulting the electorate on important policy issues. He suggests that technological progress and 85 per cent internet penetration would make it possible to involve the population in policy debates even more regularly. In the meantime, he considers successive national consultations as excellent occasions for Hungarians to prepare for more intensive participation in public affairs. The positive echoes provided by the public also serve as a source of strength for the government in domestic politics and in the international arena alike, he concludes.