Old stereotypes die hard: Hungarians pessimistic about everything

Well almost. In a research article entitled “Hungary Dissatisfied with Democracy, but Not its Ideals”, Richard Wike of Pew Research highlights how Hungarians are the least satisfied with democracy in what is at the best of times a politically disillusioned region of Europe:

At the same time, praise appears to arrive in the fact that Hungarians are more likely to highlight the importance of democratic rights and institutions than other Eastern Europeans:

So, are Hungarians the pessimists they brand themselves as? Or are they just too idealistic?

However we paint it, the facts reveal the depth of the democratic deficit in Hungary:

With widespread corruption and dubious ethics abound, and a political system interested in point-scoring and bickering to cover its murky trails, it is no wonder that Cicero’s dictum “freedom is participation in power” sounds alien to a disenfranchised Hungarian public. If the people are unable or unwilling to participate in power, then the greedy step in to advance their own interests.

Perhaps a sense of heroic progress against great odds would motivate Hungarians to fight for what they believe in. However, history provides them with few such examples. The catalogue of disaster that fills Hungarian history books seems to fill people with apathy and spread the “what’s the point” syndrome. So where is the path forward? Unless Hungarians are willing to develop a sense of civic motivation in greater numbers and close the democratic gap, it will surely be a long, painful wait before they can finally stand tall and regain sovereignty over their political arena.