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Socialist MEP: One-fifth of pro-government voters would vote against EU membership

One-fifth of pro-government voters would reject Hungary's European Union membership, a Socialist MEP said on Tuesday, citing a survey.

Istvan Ujhelyi told an online press conference that the Publicus Institute survey commissioned by Social Democrats of the European Parliament found, however, that if a referendum were held now, 86 percent of Hungarians overall would vote to keep the country in the bloc.

At the same time, 48 percent agreed with the statement that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party wanted to lead Hungary out of the EU, Ujhelyi said.

Fully 75 percent of respondents were aware the country was missing out on some EU funds because of issues connected with the rule of law and corruption.

The Socialist politician said most respondents did not think this was connected with the issue of “LBTQ activists promoting gender reassignment surgery in kindergartens”, referring to the government’s stance that the funds had been withheld because of the amendments to Hungary’s child protection law, which the EU has called discriminatory against the LGBTQ community.

Andras Pulai, the strategic director of Publicus, said the survey conducted in early February was based on a representative sample of 1,000 respondents and another 1,000 opposition voters to gain more detailed data on that demographic.

He insisted that Fidesz had “ratcheted up anti-EU rhetoric in the past three or four years,” adding that EU-sceptic Fidesz voters had been the most susceptible to those arguments, while they had no effect on opposition voters.

Most respondents said the rule of law was the value that needed the most protection, a view that might have changed with the war in Ukraine, he said.

Despite “state propaganda”, 27 percent of pro-government voters saw the state of the rule of law in Hungary as problematic, he said. A significant majority would increase the EU’s jurisdiction in policy areas such as the fight against corruption, the rule of law, and the organisation of health care and education, he said.

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