A recent conference at the Academy of Science discussed the attitude of Hungarians to the law.
Péter Róbert and Balázs Fekete researched (pdf) people’s trust in the courts by asking people how likely they think they were to win a case (in which they are right) against:
1) a neighbour,
2) a boss,
3) a bank,
4) the police,
5) the tax authority,
6) a rich entrepreneur (an oligarch?), or
7) a politician (definitely an oligarch)
Participants were asked to rate their chances on a scale of five, where ‘5’ stands for certainty to win the case and ‘1’ means no chance to win. The results were dramatic.
The results correlated with education, income, residence, religiousness, institutional trust, and also with general contentment. But it gets worse.
When looking at the number of people who thought would definitely win against a certain opponent they found that only 2% thought that they would win against a politician. And only 10% against a measly neighbour. That explains why people don’t fight for their rights – and hope for the mercy of the really powerful instead (politicians). Courts are really the solution of last resort when their decisions bear so little relation to rightness or wrongness in people’s minds.
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