Monday, 30 September 2019 10:59

HUNGARY – Propaganda media smears opposition parties’ candidates for their stance on migration

The pro-government newspaper Magyar Nemzet puts together old quotes on migration by opposition parties’ mayor candidates to instill fears in the Hungarian electorate if elected.. This is Hungary’s media monitoring highlight for September.

This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of September, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.

Screen Shot 2019 10 02 at 11.59.03Date of publication: 21 September 2019

Media outlet: Magyar Nemzet is a daily print and online news portal which is part of the Fidesz party’s media empire known as the Central European Press and Media Foundation (KESMA)


Headline: “Opposition candidate in Sopron opposed the [Southern Hungary’s] border lock-down”

Description of the anti-Muslim content: The article focuses on the pro-migration stance of several opposition parties’ candidates who are running for mayor in the upcoming local elections on 13 October. It puts together  old quotes on migration by candidates which date back to 2015 and 2016, the period known as the “refugee crisis”. The aim is to show how dangerous these candidates are for the Hungarian society if elected. Norbert Varga, candidate for mayor in Sopron, is criticised for having said that immigrants are not a threat to Christian societies and that there should not have been a border fence to stop refugees reaching Hungary. The article states that most migrants in Germany were not able to find jobs because they were illiterate and he belittles Varga for saying that Syrian refugees were highly educated on account of the excellent education system in Syria. “Sopron is not the only city where opposition politicians have made shocking statements about immigration,” the article continues quoting other candidates who are in favour of a European quota system for refugees. The article reports that the spokesperson of the ruling party, Fidesz, called all opposition parties “the immigration party” and warned of the disastrous consequences of their election: “Against the will of the Hungarian people, they would demolish the fence, dismantle the Hungarian border guard, accept the resettlement quota, and suggest that migrants be distributed to Hungarian cities as well.”

Myth Debunked: According to the independent online newspaper Index, 18 of the top 20 daily newspapers inHungary are owned by Lőrinc Mészáros, childhood friend of Viktor Orbán and former mayor of Felcsút (the Prime Minister's hometown). One by one, new managements close to Orbán have taken over the most prominent Hungarian news television channels and news websites. This concentration of media power into the hands of a pro-government oligarchs has cemented the dominance of Fidesz party’s political agenda in shaping the public discourse. The Hungarian government has constantly used migration to fuel fears around migration, depicting refugees as a fundamental threat to society in terms of security and Christian identity. According to a 2018 Pew survey, this has left a deep and lasting mark in the population: 72 percent of Hungarians want fewer or no migrants at all; 73 percent consider immigrants to be a burden “because they take jobs and social benefits”, and 66 percent believe that immigrants want to be distinct from society and increase the risk of terrorism. But Fidesz’s hardline anti-immigration campaigns, constantly echoed by propaganda media, do not match with the actual numbers of asylum requests. A general decrease of refugees arriving in Europe, as well as the construction of border fences and the enactment of legal amendments to reduce non-EU immigration in Hungary, has caused a dramatic reduction in the number of asylum requests in the country. The total applications dropped from 29,432 in 2016 to just 280 in the first quarter of 2018. But pro-government media keep their anti-immigration stance as strong as ever.  

More to read:

How Hungary shrunk the media

The end of Magyar Nemzet

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