skip to main content
Snapshot: EU on Stronger Footing Than Orban in Hungary

Snapshot: EU on Stronger Footing Than Orban in Hungary

Story Highlights

  • 47% of Hungarians approve of EU leadership; 40% approve of Orban
  • Hungary's scores lowest in EU on Migrant Acceptance Index
  • In 2016, 62% of Hungarians saw EU membership as benefit

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Hungarian protesters took to the streets Sunday after the European Parliament's vote to initiate sanctions against Hungary for what it called a "clear risk of a serious breach" of European values. Although Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban easily won a third term in April, the protests were pro-European Union and anti-Orban. Such a tilt is perhaps not that surprising, given that the EU's leadership has consistently earned higher approval ratings in Hungary than Orban has.

Line graph: Hungarians' approval of EU leadership, Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, 2012-2017. Approval of EU higher than Orban.

While Orban's approval ratings have been gaining ground in recent years, Hungarians historically have given the EU's leadership higher marks. This aligns with the overall value that most Hungarians have placed on membership in the bloc: As recently as 2016, 62% of Hungarians said membership in the EU benefits their country.

Still, in the most recent survey in 2017, the EU has fewer fans among Orban's base. Hungarians who approved of the country's leadership were slightly less likely to approve of the EU's leadership (45%) than were those who disapproved of the country's leadership (52%).

Orban's government has drawn the European Parliament's ire for its recent attacks on independent media, academics, the rule of law and the rights of migrants, refugees and minorities. The parliament's unprecedented vote Wednesday was the first step in a process that could strip Hungary of its EU voting rights -- if the EU's member states unanimously vote to approve it. Poland -- which itself faces potential sanctions for similar reasons -- is expected to block it.

Hungary's situation is not likely to take center stage when EU leaders -- including Orban -- meet informally this week in Austria, but one subject related to Hungary's recent censure will: migration. No other region of the world is more divided on Gallup's Migrant Acceptance Index than the EU, where scores range from a high of 7.92 in Sweden to a low of 1.69 in Hungary. Poland's score is 3.31.

Migrant Acceptance Index Scores Vary Across European Union
Sweden 7.92 Cyprus 5.41
Ireland 7.74 Malta 4.95
Luxembourg 7.54 Slovenia 4.42
Netherlands 7.46 Greece 3.34
Spain 7.44 Poland 3.31
Denmark 7.09 Romania 2.93
Germany 7.09 Lithuania 2.72
Portugal 6.65 Bulgaria 2.42
United Kingdom 6.61 Croatia 2.39
Finland 6.58 Estonia 2.37
Italy 6.49 Czech Republic 2.26
France 6.46 Latvia 2.04
Belgium 6.16 Slovakia 1.83
Austria 6.06 Hungary 1.69
Maximum possible score on the index is 9.
Gallup World Poll, 2016

While Hungary's score is the lowest in the EU -- and among the lowest in the world after Macedonia and Montenegro -- acceptance of migrants within the country follows the political tide. Migrant Acceptance Index scores are lower among Orban's supporters (1.38) than among those who disapprove of his leadership (1.91).

Takeaway: Orban's staunch defiance against what he sees as "an abuse of power" by the EU for Hungary's decision that it is not going to be "a country of migrants" will likely play well with his base of supporters -- who are slightly less likely to approve of the EU's leadership and less likely to accept migrants.

How the situation plays in the rest of Hungary and in Europe -- where tensions run high between nationalist and federalist camps -- will unfold ahead of the next European Parliament elections in 2019.

For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

Learn more about how the Gallup World Poll works.

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030