IRI Poll: 51 percent of Hungarians think border fence is a bad idea


The majority of Hungarians think that there is no need for a fence on the Southern border of the country – this surprising result was revealed by a public opinion poll conducted in March in the Visegrad countries. Hungarians also said that they think poverty poses a bigger threat to their private lives than migration. This disproves the Hungarian government’s claims that there is overwhelming support for its border fence and its migration policy.


The poll was conducted by Ipsos and commissioned by the Washington-based think tank International Republican Institute (IRI). The poll asked Hungarians, Czechs, Poles and Slovaks about their fears, what bothers them, what kind of media they consume and their opinion about the EU, NATO and Russia. The results of the poll were published in Brussels in May, during the NATO summit.

Fifty percent of Hungarians said that generally speaking, the country was going in the wrong direction, and 38 percent said that it was going into the right direction.



Source: International Republican Institute


When they were asked what they considered to be the single biggest problem facing Hungary today, most people (28 percent) said that it was poverty and social inequality. Corruption, unemployment and health care followed. Only 4 percent said immigration control was the biggest concern.

However, when Hungarians were asked about the single biggest problem facing Europe, they most often mentioned terrorism (26 percent) and immigration control (26 percent).

When asked about foreign relations of the country, most Hungarians said that their country’s interests are served best by maintaining good relations with the EU, Germany, the UK and the USA – not China or Russia.

Fifty percent of Hungarians said that financial aid and access to the common market are the greatest benefits of membership in the European Union, but 35 percent think this came at the cost of rising prices and increased competition from other member states. Among drawbacks of EU membership, 22 percent mentioned the loss of independence and sovereignty and 11 percent said EU membership undermined traditional values and ways of life.

Also, 33 percent of Hungarians said that the European project has been a success but 52 percent said that it played a major role in creating modern Europe but now it needs to be rethought. As to NATO, 44 percent think it guaranteed peace in Europe for the last 70 years and it remains vital in maintaining peace and security on the Continent. However, 41 percent said that since the end of the Cold War NATO has become less important and ‘our approach to security should be rethought.’

On the question of border security, Hungarians are divided: 49 percent said that the only way to address the problems of migrants and terrorism is to close the borders, regardless of the effect such a move would have on freedom of movement in the European Union. 51 percent said the opposite, that closing national borders is a bad idea because no country has the ability to address the problem on its own and collective organisations like NATO and the EU must be engaged to intercept migrants and coordinate anti-terror efforts.

You can read the full results, including what Hungarians think about Russia and whether it poses a threat to Europe, here.

Methodology: Hungarians were asked on March 2-8, 2017. Twenty-minute in-person interviews were conducted with one thousand adults representative of the regions of the country. The story in Hungarian, with lots of graphs, can be found here.


Text: Botond Bőtös and Anita Kőműves

[sharedcontent slug=”hirdetes-english”]