Commentary

What Is a “National Consultation” Anyway?

The so called “national consultation surveys” are direct marketing mail campaign letters sent to every Hungarian household on behalf of “the government of Hungary”.

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It lands in everyone’s post box. Even overseas.

PM Orbán has mastered the art of using his position to perpetually campaign for himself and his party, Fidesz, on the taxpayers’ dime. The direct marketing letter campaigns started after the Orbán-government came into power in 2010 and their supposed purpose is “to ask the opinion of the people” on certain issues.

But that’s just a political lie. If you accept it, you can continue sleeping well and ignore what these letters really are.

First of all, the issues they “ask your opinion” about are often non-existent, the threats they warn you of never materialize in your life, and some people only hear about them from the surveys. (They are the most scared, actually.) Many of the letters (the 7th came out recently) only served scaremongering against migrants and now against George Soros personally. Think what you want of Soros, but targeting an individual in “public service announcements”, on billboards and all over the media on the taxpayers’ money and on the government’s command is wrong – and it should alarm you. Once it starts as a precedent it has no reason to end.

And even to discuss these non-issues helps Orbán to stay in power. This is how people have learned that “terrorism” has something to do with their own lives and that it has everything to do with migration. And this is how they are distracted from the state of the health care system (that actually kills them by the thousands, unlike terrorists), the real economy and rampant, state-sponsored corruption and arrogant cronyism.

There was a mail campaign about restoring the death penalty, and another one before Orbán’s anti-EU, anti-immigrant referendum in 2016 with questions like:

“Some think Brussels’s mishandling of immigration contributed to the advancement of terrorism. Do you agree with that?”

“Do you think Hungary will be a target of a terror attack next year?”

How important do you think the advances of global terrorism (ISIS and recent attacks in France) in your life?” (Yes/No)

These marketing campaigns that supposedly reveal the sacred wish of the nation also shield Orbán against international criticism. As the director of a court think tank recently put it:

“The consultation sets the agenda, keeps the 〈Fidesz〉 voters together in one camp and it also works well as an argument in international politics… You can always just tell in half a sentence how many millions of people have expressed their wish.”

So there you go, dear foreign leader. You will be dismissed with half a sentence and shut up with the (alleged) results if you dare to question. Try it, ask anyone near power and he will give you the success story of “national consultations” and “people’s wish”. They have been briefed by communication pros to do so.

As of the actual wish of the people, the answers to these vile questions, they do not matter. Some people supposedly send these things back, but as you can see from the options above, these questions are not meant to be answered. They deliver the government’s message and only serve to let you know what you should be afraid of, whom you should blame and hate, what you should discuss instead of your actual problems.

You may want to know how many Hungarians answer this and what they answer. Are “Hungarians” (as such) that gullible? I would like to know that, too, although it hardly matters if you think about it for a second. The damage is done the moment someone reads these questions. And everyone takes government seriously. If government wrote about it, it must be important, right?

Anyway, the government is not obliged to divulge information about alleged responses. They don’t have to. In legal terms, “national consultation” is not a thing so they don’t owe the public any information about how many of the direct marketing letters have been sent back and what they said. How many answered yes or no and how many drew penises. As the above mentioned Fidesz-friendly analyst have put it:

“Let’s put it this way, this is not a quality- but a quantity-based campaign. It is really irrelevant how many percent of people answer yes or no, only how many supported this by participating.”

There is a reason another high-ranking Fidesz politician dismissed it as “rhetorical element of the upcoming election campaign” by Fidesz.

But of course, if you answer, unsubscribe or simply just draw a penis on it (as every sane person would reflexively do) you put yourself on a list. And your details are matched with state records, no less. Fidesz drew up lists of supporters and their opponents long before they came into power – I leave it to you to imagine what could be achieved if those records were matched with whatever the state collects about us.

As of the cost of these alarming marketing campaigns, some pesky journalists, the last ones standing, managed to get the expenses for the last one (the 6th such direct marketing mail carpet bombing) with questions like:

“It is established fact now that illegal immigrants targeting Hungary are encouraged to commit illegal activities not only by human traffickers, but also by certain international organisations. What do You think Hungary should do?”

A – Activities that aid illegal immigration – such as human trafficking and popularizing immigration – must be punished.

B – Let us accept that there are international organisations that can encourage to flout Hungarian laws without consequences.”

Our party and government spent approx. 4 million euros of public money on telling people that we need to “Stop Brussels!” because Brussels wants to take the control of utility bills out of Hungarian hands, that Brussels wants multinational companies to deliver poor quality products to Hungary, that Brussels wants international organisations to be unaccountable, and that Brussels wants to forbid the Hungarian government’s heartfelt efforts to lower taxes and create jobs. “Brussels”, not the “EU“.

To throw every Fidesz crony some business, there were adverts everywhere and the Fidesz media couldn’t stop promoting it, plus billboards covering the whole country. On public money because, you know, it is a public service announcement.

Last week they sent one out with the message that you should be afraid of the so called “Soros-plan”. Don’t worry, it doesn’t exist. But since the government keeps corresponding about it, it might as well. They don’t send you official letters abut something that doesn’t exist, do they?

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We open it in the next post.

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4 thoughts on “What Is a “National Consultation” Anyway?

  1. Pingback: Government Refuses to Answer MP’s Information Request Because Her Party Is Weak | Meanwhile in Budapest

  2. Pingback: State Campaign Against George Soros | Meanwhile in Budapest

  3. Pingback: State Campaign Against the “Soros plan” | Meanwhile in Budapest

  4. Pingback: National Consultation on the “Soros Plan”  | Meanwhile in Budapest

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